Author: Elliott James
Series: Pax Arcana, book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher
“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 the first book in the new Pax Arcana series by Elliott James.
John Charming is a descendant of the famous Charming line. A line of Knights Templar that for centuries have protected the Pax Arcana. The Pax Arcana is a spell that prevents humans from seeing the creatures that bump in the night.
John’s mom was attacked by a werewolf days before giving birth to him. His mom didn’t survive the change; luckily for him John didn’t show signs of werewolf infection at birth. The Knights trained John for years, but when John was in his early twenties he started to develop supernatural abilities. When that happened, in the eye of the Templars John stops being one of them and became one of the monsters they hunt and kill.
Years have passed and luckily John has been able to stay one step ahead of the Knights. That he is now one of the hunted doesn’t mean he has stopped haunting. As a Templar descendant he was born with a geas (spell) that makes him protect the Pax Arcana at all cost, subsequently killing any supernatural creature that puts it at risk. That’s how he meets Sig the Valkyrie and her ragtag band of supernatural hunters.
Sig is hunting a hive of vampires and needs John’s help and expertise. John accepts to help her, not only because it’s in his DNA, but also because he is very attracted to Sig.
What John wasn’t expecting to find in Sig and her group was a camaraderie and support he thought forever lost to him.
When I saw the cover and read the blurb I said this book is for me, but I have to be honest with you, after reading so not very favorable reviews I was somewhat reluctant to read it. I keep moving in down and moving it down on my TBR list. Fortunately, Julie from Yummy Men & Kick Ass Chicks started to read it and told me she was liking it, a lot. Julie and I have the same taste in books, so the probability of me liking Charming was high too. Still, being honest with you, I have to tell you that I started to read Charming with low expectations and ready to not like it, but to my great surprise after couple of pages I was completely lost in the story and the wonderful world Elliott James created.
Charming is told from John’s POV, this not only helped me connect with him but it also showed me what he was thinking at all times. I can understand why some people can feel that John gives an overload of information, he’s always telling us something, it could be about his past, history, religions or about many other topics. I actually liked all the information sharing, in my opinion it made the story richer and more entertaining. I can also see why some people compare John to Atticus from The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. They are both male characters, smartasses, resourceful and with somehow different but similar backgrounds. If you like Atticus you are going to like John Charming.
The way Mr. James writes John also reminded me of Michael Westen from the TV series Burn Notice and that was more than fine with me. I love that show.
If you are expecting a slow building romance you won’t find it here. Charming is not high in the romance department. There is an instant attraction between John and Sig. Some people may have a problem with it, but I accepted it as I usually accept insta-love between supernaturals. They are not humans and what govern their instincts is not the same as a regular human being, so I give more leeway to cases like theirs. Would I want to know more about what John finds so fascinating about Sig? Of course, but there are still more books to come and I’m sure Mr. James is going to explore their relationship even more in books to come.
When I say relationship don’t take it at literal value, there is nothing official between them, just intention and interest. We have to wait and see what Mr. James has in store for them in future books.
The secondary characters are all original and different in a way they complement each other wonderfully making of Charming a very enjoyable and unique read.
I can’t say much about the villain without giving spoilers away, let’s just say that when you think you have everything figured out Mr. James throws a curveball and leaves us openmouthed and wondering how we didn’t see that coming.
The plot is well paced and fluid, with enough action and mystery to keep us glued to the pages. The story is engaging and the characters are not only likeable but also multidimensional. The world building is original and rich in mythology, legends and lore. I have to mention the chapters’ titles; they were not only funny as hell but added an extra something to my enjoyment of Charming.
Give Charming a chance as I did so, you won’t regret it, especially if you are a fan of Kevin Hearne’s writing style or love Burn Notice TV series.
I’m looking forward to read more books by Elliott James and I’m sure going to pick up second book in the Pax Arcana series as soon as it becomes available.
My Verdict: 4 Paws
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