I thought the first book in the series, Magical Midlife Madness, quite cute. The premise is that a woman is at odds after divorcing and her only son going off to college, so when she inherits a house out of the blue in a small California town, she thinks, ‘why not?’ The eccentric butler and gardener only add to the appeal. As she uncovers the mysteries of the house, she discovers she is spiritual heir to its magic and the plot revolves around discovering and accepting that magic and a new life.
However, the sequel is entirely content to backtrack and recycle, first by suddenly giving us a main character that goes from embracing independence and a new way of living (hello, magic metaphor!) to one that is focused on dating. I’m not sure how we got here, because that wasn’t really the mental focus of the last book, which left her and the reader preparing for a magical attack. She compounds this with stupid decision-making, by deciding it would be appropriate to date non-magical people (‘Dicks,’ of ‘Dick and Jane’ fame, ha. ha.) and take them to the magical-people bar (logic escapes me). Presumably unable to think of a new UF-style plot (despite prior groundwork), Breene decides to recycle ‘accept the magic’ premise of discovering and accepting her supposed ability to fly.
Ugh. While I know I was experiencing QB™ the first book, I didn’t think I had it that bad. Madness was sweet, it held attention (mostly) and I didn’t skim (mostly). This, however, was just… same ol’, same ol’ mass-market, dingy-girl-woman looks for date. Think Stephanie Plum, book 19, only with less elements of what made the first good.
Despite having been ’empowered’ enough in book one to keep her ‘midlife’ body, she did take the rejuvenation moment to tighten up some saggy bits and remove some cellulite, so we’re treated to lots of hot-mama oogling/dressing up scenes here (she’s also kind of a self-righteous twit because she didn’t make her vampire minion any younger). Oh, it’s so empowering to date like this! Her Carebear™ non-boyfriend does lots of flexing, growling and advice-giving when he sees her, so we get the whole alpha male scene, tempered with Breene’s point that Jessie’s magic is equally strong.
But Jessie remains just dumb here–really, the whole premise of dating when she’s head of a magical nexus that the magical universe is salivating over?–and if there’s one thing that annoys me, it’s setting up your plot based on your heroine not being security conscious. (Talk about privilege!) There’s multiple instances where she does ‘instinctual’ magical shout-outs for ‘help’–so stupid– and the trust placed in the respondees was questionable. Honestly, I was waiting for at least one to be a double-agent. Incidentally, all of the magical learning becomes hand-wavy ‘instinct,’ with an occasional reference to a confusing book the vampire is translating (don’t even try and figure that one out).
What I did like was the non-Bigfoot creature who was more than a little obsessed with flowers. That was pretty much the most redeeming character. Everything else, passable to lame. Oh, and for those that actually want dating and sex–there were no happy-sexy times here. Just ugh.
Hey, good news! I guess I recovered from Quarantine Brain™!