Barely Bewitched is the second novel in Kimberly Frost’s SOUTHERN WITCH series. I recently reviewed the first novel, Would-Be Witch, and wasn’t too impressed with Frost’s ditzy heroine and her aggressive alpha male lovers. If the book had had some redeeming qualities such as beautiful prose, appealing humor, or even an interesting plot, I could have happily gone along for the ride.
I only decided to pick up Barely Bewitched because Tantor Audio sent me a review copy of the audiobook. Penguin Audio produced the audiobook for the first novel over 5 years ago and never produced the rest of the series. Now Tantor Audio has picked up Barely Bewitched and hired a new narrator, Amy Rubinate, to read it. (I do not know if they will produce the remaining books.) I decided to give SOUTHERN WITCH a try, hoping that a second novel by Frost might be an improvement over her debut.
Unfortunately, that was wishful thinking. Barely Bewitched is, in my opinion, kind of a mess. In this installment, Tammy Jo receives a notice from WAM (the World Association of Magic) informing her that her use of magic has caught the attention of the magical authorities (whom Tammy knew nothing of) and they are requiring her to appear for a wizarding challenge. If she doesn’t pass the difficult test, she will be executed. WAM has forbidden her to consult sexy and powerful Bryn Lyons, but they were nice enough to send her a tutor. Unfortunately the tutor is a homicidal maniac named Incendio who has power over the element of water… haha, no, just kidding!! It’s fire. Incendio can set things ablaze with a thought, which he does a little too frequently.
So now Tammy Jo is not only dealing with her possessive ex-husband who she still sleeps with, and Bryn the sexy rich magical lawyer, but now there’s Incendio… oh, and there’s also Earl, a guy who keeps trying to rape her. In the process of trying to handle all these aggressive men, Tammy manages to set free some faeries and the town gets sprinkled with pixie dust which makes everyone go crazy. Once again, Tammy Jo is the only one who can save the town, but doing so will put her and the men in her life in mortal danger.
The plot of Barely Bewitched is chaotic and messy. The whole pixie dust episode is supposed to be entertaining and funny, but I thought it was boring and silly. I would be able to forgive the silliness if the humor was actually funny, but it’s not. Tammy does several things that are just dumb and there are a few too many places where I’d have to numb my brain to get the plot to make sense.
The romance is a significant part of the story, but it isn’t very sexy. Tammy’s reluctance toward one of the men, and her blind acceptance of the other’s attitudes and actions, is hard to believe and is obviously there just to create romantic tension. The triangle is getting tiresome.
My biggest problem with this series, though, is that I just don’t like Tammy Jo. She’s not smart, funny, or interesting, and I just can’t admire a heroine who had to look up the word “subcutaneous.”
Some audio readers will be disappointed with the change of narrator. I like the voice of the previous reader, Mandy Siegfried, better. I thought her voice for Tammy Jo was more suitable, but I thought this new narrator, Amy Rubinate does a better job with the pace and cadence. So, for me it’s a toss-up. The cover of the audiobook doesn’t at all look like how I picture Tammy Jo, by the way. I really think the artist got it wrong. Same with the new covers for the Kindle versions (shown at the top of this post). The older covers (Tammy in the green dress) are much better.
I’m not going to continue with the SOUTHERN WITCH series. It doesn’t match my tastes. However, the series is very popular, so if you tend to like paranormal romances with love triangles involving fickle shallow women and macho men, this might be just your thing.