I grabbed Toni LoTempio‘s PNR novel, No Rest for the Wicca, from the Amazon free list. At the time of posting it was still free. I’ve included two covers because I intend to address them later in the review. The grey is from Goodreads, the red from Amazon.
Description from goodreads:
Communing with the dead is an everyday occurrence for PI Morgan Hawkes. A half-Wiccan witch who can commune with spirits of those caught between worlds, Morgan uses her talents to exorcise the trapped ghost or demon as part of the Paranormal Investigation Squad – until a string of murders with a voodoo slant prompts the Special Forces Agency to ask for her assistance. Someone’s killing pureblood witches- and the SFA’s convinced Morgan’s heritage (her father was a voodoo priest) could be instrumental in solving the mystery. Teamed with dashing SF agent Cole St. John – an Inheritor Vampire that sets her blood racing – the two of them fight their attraction for each other as they race to stop a madman from unleashing a demonic force upon the world.
I got a couple good chuckles out of No Rest for the Wicca. Morgan was a fun character who managed to pull off the tough snark without pushing it over into the suicidal diarrhea mouth so many such characters have. I enjoyed her, her desire do the right thing, her intelligence and her backbone, maybe not so much her tendency toward alcoholism and self-destructive behaviour. But a few quirks make a character more interesting.
I also enjoyed the mystery here too. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard to figure out but it wasn’t super obvious either. However, Morgan didn’t seem to have to do much investigating to solve it. She just needed to present herself and people handed her all the information she needed. As an example, she met one of the suspects once (never even had a conversation with him, she was picking up a dropped pencil) and he offered her an assistantship. Now, anyone who’s been to university and tried for an apprenticeship knows this isn’t at all realistic, but even in fiction it’s a little too easy of an in. What’s more there was one particular side-character who essentially laid every clue she could need at her feet with almost no prompting and without suspecting why Morgan would be asking such questions. Too easy!
As was the fact that the main villain, who managed to spend years carefully planning the whole thing, suddenly lost all composure and got sloppy as soon as Morgan came on the scene. How do heroines to this to bad guys so often? I’ve never figured this out, no matter how often I read it in novels.
A lot has already been made in previous reviews of the whole half-wiccan/half-voodoo thing. So I won’t go on about it, but I’ll admit it threw me for a loop too. At one point the half-vampire compares the two of them as the same, but I’m still lost how someone who is half biologically something (a species) can be the same as someone who is half socially something (a religion). In the end I just had to tell myself I’ve read tons of fantasy with elves, fairies, witches, sorcerers, vampires, werewolves, etc as races/species and it works. So, if LoTempio wants to call them Wiccans instead I can force that in the same vein.
There was a light romance as a sub-plot. However, IMHO it really needed to be played up more and made a more important part of the plot or dropped. Half-assed as it was, it’s just a distraction. Granted, Cole was sexy (except for the whole ‘My Dear’ thing that totally didn’t match his character and was exceptionally annoying) and I liked him a lot. But the romance didn’t seem to contribute anything to the story. I was left wondering what that was about. Plus, the whole 25-year-old virgin was ridiculous considering how easily she gave it up. It felt like a needless attempt to conform to outdated social dictates of acceptable behaviour (good girls remain chaste).
There were some serious editing issues. There were missing words, misspelled words and passages like this one: “He swung his long legs out in front of him. “What I’m proposing is this—“ he swung his long legs out in front of him. “You and I go…”” How many legs does this man have? It was distracting, but the book was still readable. I don’t think it was bad enough to pass the book up for.
Finally, a note on covers and I promise I’m not trying to be mean. I’ve seen two Kindle covers for this book and they’re both ATROCIOUS, but more to the point don’t match the book. The first being the grey one with a woman with straight blond streaked hair and scary long fingernails. But the character is described as having curly black hair and as she’s quite active I can’t see the nails working out. So, who’s on the cover? The second is even worse (though a more attractive cover, I’ll admit). It’s the red one with the scantily clad woman in lingerie waving a deck of tarot around. BUT, the main character is described as a virgin and as there is only one rather mild sex scene, how exactly does that erotica-like cover match the book? It doesn’t and it is doing a disservice to the author. I would suggest one of the cartooned covers like one sees on H.P. Mallory‘s, Rose Pressey‘s, or Robyn Peterman‘s books. I think it would match the genre better. Only my opinion though, of course and I mention this so that others who know the genre will more accurately know what to expect.
So, final though…it was a fun read. It had a few issues, but nothing that would prevent me from recommending it to PNR/UF readers.