An Undeniable Rogue

An Unmistakable Rogue

My Favorite Witch
by Annette Blair
(Berkley, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-425-20723-4
Jason Pickering Goddard is the toughest goalie in the NHL and the winner of Best Kisser In Americareality show. Heís sexy, charming and a notorious ladies man. Then a car accident leaves him with a seriously messed up knee and out of a job. Hockey is the only thing Jason knows and it is what he truly loves. Heís lost and bitter without it, and despite numerous doctors telling him otherwise, heís determined to play again. In the meantime, heís stuck dancing to his grandmotherís tune.

Gram is none other than Bessie Pickering Hazard, a woman with a spine of steel and more money than God. Bessie oversees the Pickering Foundation, which adopts several charities, chief among them St. Anthonyís Home For Boys. However, recent years have brought funding problems and the money is drying up. Jason is no longer playing hockey, and is a celebrity, so she feels he would be perfect to take over as Director of Special Events for the foundation and drum up some dollars. Jason reluctantly agrees. Then he meets his sexy new assistant.

Kira Fitzgerald is one heart-broken witch. After catching her minor league baseball player fiancť in bed with her sister, Kira calls off the wedding. Thank goodness she hadnít sent the wedding invitations out yet! Bessie hires her for the foundation because Kira has proven to be a wiz at raising money. Also the fact that sheís an honest-to-goodness white witch certainly canít hurt their cause any. Kira is more than happy with her new job, and her new apartment at Bessieís mansion. Then she meets Jason and immediately becomes unhappy. Jason is the ultimate jock. Heís also extremely sexy. She has sworn off sexy, jock men, and Jason is one big temptation. Still, sheís not foolish enough to make the same mistake twice.

However, between working together and sharing adjoining apartments it isnít long before all the sexual tension begins to bubble over.

Blairís second Witch book is a fun, frothy contemporary that features some of the best banter around. Itís not a mistake that this book is called My Favorite Witch, as the dialogue zipping between Jason and Kira has a decidedly My Girl Friday feel to it. These two people have sworn off the opposite sex for different reasons, but cannot seem to stay away from each other. Jason has been celibate since his car accident. Kira isnít anxious to put her heart back out on the line after the mess with her fiancť.

However, the foundation begins to crack once the reader begins looking below the surface. This book works well when itís keeping it fun and light, but there are many deeper issues that are never addressed that probably should have been - chief among them being Jasonís accident. All the reader knows is that some woman was driving, she walked away, and he didnít. In addition, while he uses a cane, the reader never sees him working at getting his NHL career back. Teaching some orphaned boys some hockey moves is apparently all it takes to rehab a knee.

Kira caught her fiancť boinking her sister. One would think this would lead to some sort of confrontation, but it never does. In fact, the faithless fiancť and dear old sis do show up in one of the later chapters but they barely receive any sort of comeuppance. While Jason gives them a good cut direct, Kira doesnít even open her mouth to tell them to shove off.

As far as the witchcraft angle goes, itís rather superfluous. Most of the time it is a non-factor and Kira only casts about three spells over the course of the entire novel. This is a nice touch for targeting readers who normally do not care for paranormals, but one wonders if theyíd even give this story a shot with ďWitchĒ displayed prominently in the title and cover art. Paranormal fans looking for a contemporary heavy on the witchcraft wonít find it here Ė as My Favorite Witch reads more like a humorous romantic comedy with a smidge of witchcraft thrown in. Itís about as heavy as the old TV sitcom Bewitched.

Overall, My Favorite Witch is a bit of a mixed bag. The banter, dialogue and lead characters make for a nice, frothy read, and while the orphaned boys border on the sugary side they donít cause any undue toothaches. However, the author brings up several issues with both her main characters and never delves into them deeply enough to fully explore their emotional baggage. If youíre looking for a light, fun read this certainly isnít a problem. Just donít go overanalyzing it.

--Wendy Crutcher

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