- Title: Charming
- Series: Pax Arcana #1
- Author: Elliot James
- Publisher: Orbit Books/Hachette Book Group
- Publication date: September 24th 2013
- ISBN: 9780316253383
- Format: ebook
- Page Count: 288 pages
- Age Rating: Upper Teens to Adult (minor sexual references)
- How I got my hot little hands on it: Received a free ARC to review
John Charming isn’t your average Prince…
He comes from a line of Charmings — an illustrious family of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers dating back to before the fall of Rome. Trained by a modern day version of the Knights Templar, monster hunters who have updated their methods from chainmail and crossbows to kevlar and shotguns, he was one of the best. That is — until he became the abomination the Knights were sworn to hunt.
That was a lifetime ago. Now, he tends bar under an assumed name in rural Virginia and leads a peaceful, quiet life. One that shouldn’t change just because a vampire and a blonde walked into his bar… Right?
Charming is a cleverly written Urban Fantasy following John Charming as he meets a not quite (or at all, really, since I’m pretty sure she could bench press him without breaking a sweat) damsel in distress and reluctantly joins her ragtag group of monster hunters to take out a hive of vampires.
The main character, John, is quite the badass when he wants to be. He has some serious fighting moves and supernatural strengths that make him a fierce warrior, but ultimately it’s his vulnerabilities and heart of gold that make him sexy. He’s been hunted his whole adult life by those he used to consider family and he struggles daily with the animal side of himself, but he still manages to be a good guy with a strong moral compass. Sig, the female leader of the hunters and the love interest of John, is a triple threat of beauty, brains, and brawn with her own dark past to overcome. The rest of the cast includes fascinating supernatural beings and humans with a bone to pick, my favorite by far being Molly, a female priest packing her own kind of punch, whom I found quirky and delightful (anyone who responds to fear by putting on a reindeer sweater and listening to Christmas carols in April gets my vote for best female supporting character).
Witty writing and cinematic action make this a page-turner that’s hard to put down. Working against this is the large amounts of info dumping and explanation asides that tended to disrupt the flow of the story, but were at least interesting (at the end we learn they serve a purpose, a fact to keep in mind if they start to become a distraction).
All in all, this was a highly enjoyable read full of action, intriguing characters, and a different spin on our own world that really pulls you in (and explains itself to you in detail along the way so there’s no fear of getting lost ;)). I highly recommend this book to Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance lovers alike (although it is more the former than the latter) and will definitely be on the lookout for the next book in this series.
Valkyrie Blend from Valhalla Coffee. Like the hard-hitting, sharp-witted Sig, this blend has a full, robust strength and a bit of acidity. And like Sig’s surprisingly deep layers, there is more to this coffee than meets the eye with some surprising underlying flavors (fruity and a hint of chocolate).