STARRED FEATURE: Playing with Fire: a Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) by RJ Blain

What do you get when you mix gorgons, an incubus, and the Calamity Queen? Trouble, and lots of it.

For Bailey, catering to the magical is a tough gig on a good day, but when her sexiest enemy's ex-wife angles for revenge, she's tossed into the deep end with him, like it or not.

Warning: This novel contains excessive humor, action, excitement, adventure, magic, romance, and bodies. Proceed with caution.

Playing with Fire reads a bit as though R. J. Blain took whatever mythical and magical ideas she had on hand, added in the kitchen sink, and tossed the whole lot at her word processor program.

I don't mean that in a bad way. Because what she ended up with is a fun, silly, ribald romp of a story that serves as an excellent palette cleanser in between courses of more serious reading.

And again, I don't mean that in a bad way either.

Sometimes the best thing to read is a book that takes nothing seriously, least of all itself.

There's a lot going on, some of it absurd, some of it sexy, some of it high drama (tempered with more absurdities and steaminess), none of it really graphic. There are action scenes. There are gorgons and angels, incubi and succubi, old Egyptian gods and glass coffins that serve as containment cells for viral contaminations. There's pixie dust that creates a high, and a purple unicorn that breathes fire. There's…

Well, you get the idea.

Of course this only works if the author has the skills to pull it all off. Happily, Blain is up to the task, making sense out of all the disparate elements and providing a highly entertaining journey that brings the puzzle of madcap contradictions together by the time we get to the end. If you're prudish and don't like to laugh, avoid Playing with Fire. Otherwise, you'll have a ball. – Charles de Lint, Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Sept/Oct 2017.

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