A Little Light Magic
by Joy Nash
(Leisure, $7.99, PG-13)  ISBN 978-0-505-52693-9
**
It’s hard to create a believable romance with two leads as unsympathetic as those in A Little Light Magic.  In a nutshell, the heroine is a flake and the hero has a chip on his shoulder the size of Kansas.

Tori Morgan has inherited an old house in a small tourist town on the Jersey shore. She plans to renovate the front room into a shop, where she’ll sell crystals, runes, books, and do tarot card readings and divinations. She needs a contractor to fix up the shop as soon as possible so she can get it open for the tourist season.

Enter Nick Santangelo. He doesn’t want the job, but agrees to take a look at it as a favor to an old friend. One visit doesn’t change his mind, and he privately labels Tori a kook (a notion readers may sympathize with).  Nick tells her he’s too busy to take on the job, sorry. Even though he thinks Tori is hot and would be fun to fool around with.

Tori, devastated, lights a magic candle and casts a spell asking for help. Nick unexpectedly reappears at her door and tells her he’s changed his mind, and he’ll do the work. Nick can’t explain why he made the sudden about-face, but chalks it up to Tori’s attractiveness. But he’s not interested in anything but sex, no sir. Maybe he can talk her into that.

Nick, you see, got his high-school girlfriend pregnant, married her, and then raised their daughter, Leigh, when his ex took off.  Leigh is now 17 and dating a boy Nick doesn’t approve of, all the while insisting it’s True Love Forever.  His mother is going through menopause and is acting strangely. His grandmother is a kleptomaniac. Nick doesn’t need any more women in his life, unless it’s for some casual sex.  nd he certainly doesn’t need any relationships, because after all, it didn’t work before.

This creates a bit of a problem, because Tori is tired of being alone and wants to have a baby.  She’s just about decided to go the artificial insemination route. Then she meets Nick, and before she knows what’s happened, they’re having an affair. Nick doesn’t want any more kids, but he doesn’t want Tori to be artificially inseminated, either, because he’s sure she doesn’t understand the commitment she’s making. (He’s right.)

There’s a subplot about Leigh and her boyfriend, and whether they’ll have sex or not. The mother and grandmother pop in and out. Nick’s brother tries to make a go of it as a soap opera actor. Nick and Tori steam up the sheets. But none of this was particularly interesting, perhaps because Nick and Tori are difficult to like. Frankly, she’s pretty high up on the Flake Scale, and Nick’s dog-in-the-manger approach to Tori’s planned pregnancy got old, fast. He doesn’t want a relationship, though the sex is great and that’s fine by him. He sure as hell doesn’t want to be a father again. But he doesn’t want her to have a child with some unknown guy, either.

I just couldn’t work up any sympathy for either one of these characters, and therefore didn’t care much about their romance. Nick’s attitude was overbearing and arrogant. Tori didn’t seem to know what she wanted.  Leigh and her boyfriend are more interesting, and their relationship is well done, seen through Leigh’s eyes. But they can’t carry the book.

A Little Light Magic was a disappointment and one I can’t recommend. 

--Cathy Sova


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