Romance Book ReviewsPage Two of Two
She's Got Issues by Stephanie LessingAvon Trade, 368 pages
Trade Paperback, July, 2005
Subgenre: Chick Lit
Chloe Rose has always known what she wanted to be when she grew up: a shoe editor (whatever that may be). As a little girl, she played magazine editor, with all of her shoes taking different roles in the office. Chloe isn't stupid, exactly, she's just on her own trip: in Chloe's world, everyone is nice to her, the world is a great place, and shoes can provide fulfillment to all of life's desires.
One day, despite herself, Chloe lands her dream job at Issues magazine, her absolute favorite magazine in the world. She's now the assistant to the assistant in the Promotions department (not that she has any idea what that means). Chloe's boss is a scheming, bitter, manipulative witch who steals Chloe's great promotional ideas, but Chloe never sees it. She's too busy being awestruck by the legendary shoe closet, where employees can borrow fabulous shoes. But neither backstabbing fashion editors, vicious bosses nor mismatched shoes can dampen Chloe's spirits, as she looks for love and dreams of the day she will be the first woman to hold the position of "Shoe Editor."
She's Got Issues is not like any chick lit book you've ever read before. For one thing, Chloe Rose is simple, honest and sweet -- yet somehow she's not cloying. Perhaps it's because, just as you decide that no one could be that stupid, Chloe suddenly recites from memory lengthy paragraphs from her sister's boyfriend's dry as dust new economics book. Or perhaps it's because Chloe's liberal, intensely loyal, intellectual sister loves Chloe so much, that we do too. In fact, whenever someone is mean to the hapless Chloe, her sister immediately fires off pages-long missives full of wit and invective. In any event, Chloe is hilarious, and she has some great ideas for promotion and a sharp fashion sense. Stephanie Lessing's writing sounds a bit as if the two sisters -- so different, yet so alike in some ways -- wrote the book together. It's funny, charming and absolutely refreshing.
--Claire E. White
Stolen Magic by M.J. PutneyBallantine, June, 2005
Hardcover, 352 pages
Mary Jo Putney returns to her fantastic re-imagining of 18th century England in this second entry in the Guardian series, after A Kiss of Fate. Simon Malmain, the Earl of Falconer, is the chief enforcer of the Guardian Council. When one of the magic-wielding Guardians does something illegal or unethical with magic, it's up to Simon to put a stop to it -- even if it means stripping the Guardian of his powers. Simon has been sent to confront Lord Drayton, a mage who has been crossing the ethical line for quite some time. But Simon underestimates Drayton's power, and Drayton turns Simon into a unicorn. Simon barely escapes with his life. Furious, Drayton sends his captive servant, Meggie, to lure the unicorn back. Meggie and Simon manage to escape and Simon regains his natural form. Simon discovers that little Meggie is neither simple nor ugly, as she seemed at first. Instead, she is a powerful, untrained mage who has been enslaved by Drayton for years. Simon realizes that Meggie has a Guardian's powers, but she has no memory. And Drayton is doing his best to kill the pair that can stop him from carrying out his plans for total power.
Mary Jo Putney has really turned up the heat in this second entry in the captivating Guardian series. Ms. Putney sets the events against the backdrop of the beginning of England's Industrial Revolution, when all sorts of inventions were about to transform society. But the Luddite Drayton is going to use magic to get control of the inventors and ensure that he has ultimate power. Simon and Meggie are a delightful couple, and their story is full of romance, humor and magic. The irrepressible Lady Bethany is a scene-stealer, as always: she's one character that never wears out her welcome. The richly-imagined magical background, combined with appealing characters and a fully-researched historical background make this another winner from Mary Jo Putney.
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