Witchy Woman by Karen Leabo
(Loveswept #891, $3.50, PG) ISBN 0-553-44652-5
***
Freelance writer Nate Wagner thinks he's found his next story. He's received a tip that mild-mannered Tess DeWitt , a software company employee, is really child psychic Moonbeam Majick, who disappeared from the public view years before. Nate plans on doing a "Whatever Happened" exposé on Tess a.k.a. Moonbeam.

Nate, using a bogus story about antiques as a cover, begins to ingratiate himself into Tess's life. He loses control of the situation when he finds himself becoming embroiled in Tess's attempt to remove an ancient gypsy curse that has caused catastrophe for countless people, a curse possibly invoked by the "Dark Lord" himself. Nate realizes he'd better take Tess seriously, instead of writing her off as being a paranoid flake, when he has a flat tire, is almost clipped by a falling tree, is in a car wreck, is on the subway when it loses power and is being stalked by a malevolent character. These are only the highlights of his bad day.

Witchy Woman is an acceptable paranormal/horror tale. If it had been longer, then the paranormal and horror elements could have been enlarged and embellished upon. As it is, we're on a whirlwind tour of the Fright House and are out of it before we've really had time to get too scared. So much attention is given to Tess's psychic ability and how it has affected her – her horrific childhood, her mother's mental breakdown, the gypsy curse – that the romance between her and Nate is not given adequate time for credible growth.

Why she feels comfortable around Nate, why his psychic vibrations are the first masculine vibrations not to make her uncomfortable, why she is suddenly unruffled as she reads his thoughts – all of these are never fully explained.

My bottom line is that Witchy Woman never quite makes it on the paranormal/horror or the romance level. People who like a paranormal theme may find this story quite acceptable. Readers who want more romance and less hocus-pocus for their money are going to be a little disappointed.

--Linda Mowery


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