Saturday, March 3, 2012

"Spellbound Falls" book 1 of the Spellbound Falls series by Janet Chapman

First the disclaimers:
(1) Janet Chapman is one of my favorite authors.  I didn't particularly enjoy the first three of her books that I read (this was several years ago, and they were the first three books in her Highlander series).  Obviously, I didn't give up on her or I wouldn't be writing this review.
(2) I purchased this book.

Time and Setting: Maine, United States, present time.

Plot: The action takes place in Spellbound Falls, Maine, United States, shortly after the events that take place in "Mystical Warrior".   Mac Oceanus, the hero in "Spellbound Falls," played an important part in "Mystical Warrior".

Maximilian (Mac) Oceanus and his six-year-old son, Henry, temporarily move to Spellbound Falls to join a family camp ran by a young widow.  The camp was recommended by Trace Huntsman, the hero of "Mystical Warrior"  The camp specializes in assisting families communicate better with each other by sharing camp activities.  Since Mac is trying to learn how to be a father and to get to know his little son better, it seems like a good idea to give it a try.  He makes arrangements to arrive a few weeks before the camp actually opens, to give himself and Henry a headstart.  Since he has pretty much lost most of his power (read previous book to learn why and how), that definitely seems like a good plan.  Little did he know what was waiting for him in Inglewood.

Olivia Baldwin runs the Inglewood camp that Mac and his son go to.  Though the actual property belongs to her in-laws, she's the one that has made the camp what it is: a retreat for families that need help.  Olivia lives there with her 8 year-old daughter, Sophie.  Olivia accepted the early arrival of Mac and his son as he paid her a nice sum that will help her fix a few things around the camp that she couldn't take care of earlier, as she didn't have enough money to do so until then.  had no idea who Mac is and much less, how he's going to impact her life and change things around.

I utterly enjoyed Mac and Olivia's story.  Usually I find children in a romance a bit distracting, but the kids in this book played an integral part and it was cute to watch them interact with their respective parents and each other.  There was a substantial cast of secondary characters, including the heroines in books 2 and 3 of this series.  They all helped in moving the story along.

Even though I did read this book in pretty much one sitting, I did think that the way Olivia dealt with a series of issues was a bit too quick and convenient.  She seemed to take everything too much in stride, including the fact that the man she fell in love with was a supernatural being.  However, if you like this author's work, this is something that you will likely overlook.  As usual, she does provide a heartwarming story with very appealing characters that draw the reader in.

Characters: As it has been my experience in most of her previous books that I read, I fell in love with the main characters on the spot.  I thought Olivia's reactions to certain things were endearing, and her own insecurities made her very sympathetic to me.  Mac is domineering, but he doesn't come across as an obnoxious Alpha.  He comes across as a very protective very sure of himself  male.

The secondary cast of characters was attractive and helped move things along.  I would have loved to see a bit more conflict involving Olivia's mother-in-law or her suitor, the middle aged Simon, but I guess there is only so much that can be done when a story needs to be told within a certain number of pages/words.

As a side note, even though this book is part of a series, and it actually spins-off a previous trilogy (Midnight Bay), you don't really need to read the previous book to be able to follow the plot in this one.  I do think, however, that if you try this one first, you may end up wanting to read the previous one, and from the previous one, you are bound to end up wanting to read the whole thing.  Mac's background can be found in book 3 of  the Midnight Bay series.  So if you get confused, that's the one to start with.


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