Reading Simply Irresistible is akin to taking a big sip of milk when you were
expecting soda. It isn’t that you don’t like milk, but the shock takes a bit of
getting used to. The cover and back blurb promise a much different story than
what is inside. The cover is a cute, contemporary sketch of a ice cream sundae
with a heart shaped cherry on top. The back blurb is a fun letter to the reader
from the main character Vivian Kinneally. From these two things, a reader
expects to find a lighthearted, humorous fantasy romance inside. What they end
up with, is basically milk.
Vivian Kinneally is a psychic who has just moved to Portland, Oregon, to take
care of her beloved Aunt Eugenia’s estate. Eugenia has been murdered and a few
days before her death she sent Vivian several boxes of papers. Vivian is alone,
without her family for the first time in her life and she’s just a little
uneasy. That fact is not made any better by the arrival of three strange women
claiming to be The Fates. The women are on the run from an unknown danger and
have come to Vivian for help. Unfortunately, Vivian doesn’t know what they’re
Enter Dexter Grant, a pet-shop owner by day, spellcasting mage and superhero by
vocation. Dexter has always had trouble following the rules of The Powers that
Be when it comes to helping people in trouble. It turns out that his last attempt to help someone out turned out inspiring the original creators of Superman. Anyway, Dex cannot resist helping Vivian, who is in way over her head trying to protect the fates.
Thus the two are thrown together, along with a dizzying array of other mages to
solve not only the problems of the Fates but the mystery of how Vivian and Aunt
Eugenia were involved. The other mages are Alex Blackstone, Andrew Vari and
their wives Ariel and Nora. I had a difficult time keeping track who was
married to who because the author assumes the reader knows these characters and
they are never developed farther than their brief introductions.
Both Vivian and Dex had great potential as characters. Vivian is a departure
from a typical romance heroine. She is a dusky skinned, dark, curly haired
woman in a sea of blonde blue-eyed nymphs. Vivian is also a consummate comic
book fan along with many other pleasantly geeky pursuits. She’s easy to
identify with and one feels like they’d really like to be friends with her.
Dex is typically gorgeous, but he has such a warm, self-effacing manner that it
makes him irresistible. With his history of inspiring comic book creators, he
is the perfect match for Vivian. from the very first time they meet, the reader
wants these two together.
The trouble is, the reader never really gets their wish. Yes, Vivian and Dex
end up together but the reader never gets the satisfaction of watching their
romance blossom. Instead, they are bogged down by the mystery surrounding
Eugenia’s death and the Fates. There are too many people to keep track of, and
more time is spent inside the head of the villain Eris than with Dex or Vivian.
It’s not that Simply Irresistible is a bad book. It’s just not what most would
consider a contemporary romance. The intricate plot involving The Fates, Eris
and the other mages is not so much a subplot as the main plot. Add to this
the fact that the reader spends so little time with Vivian and Dex that they
essentially become secondary characters.
Grayson has a way with magic and mythology. She certainly can hold her own among fantasy writers. It's just too bad what I expected to read was a romance.