Casting Spells
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2008
Up-front disclaimer: I know the author of "Casting Spells," but no one asked me to write this review. I can tell you honestly that I would never recommend a book I did not enjoy.

This is a delightful book about a small town that has a magical secret. At the center of the story is our heroine, Chloe, who runs a wildly successful yarn shop.

(The previous reviewer has created a nice little plot synopsis so I won't repeat it here.)

This book was such an enjoyable read! I am a knitter and loved all the knitting and yarn content throughout the story, but you absolutely don't need to be a knitter to enjoy this book. I read quickly and eagerly, and then was sorry when I got to the end, as I am with all good stories.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2008
Chloe Hobbs, resident of Sugar Maple, Vermont, is the only one who cannot see the magic of the town. Chloe has yet to fall in love and come into her own powers as sorcerer and protector of the town. Chloe is the offspring of generations of sorcerers and each only come into their own powers through the gift of love. Chloe's mother found her love in the form of a human.

When Chloe was six years old her parents died in a car accident and left Chloe with resident Sorcha. As Chloe gets older the spell her mother cast on the town gets weaker and weaker. Chloe is now 30 years old and the town has had two incidents of human contact they would rather forget. Only this recent accident has brought police officer Luke Mackenzie into their midst. The town hasn't had a human resident in years nor wishes to do so.

Luke Mackenzie comes to Sugar Maple to investigate the accidental death of his friend Suzanne Marseden. Her body was discovered frozen to death in Snow Lake-and it looks like she had fallen through the ice while ice skating. Under normal circumstances Suzanne would have known how to test the frozen quality of a lake, yet under the influence of alcohol, she skated on it against better judgment.

Luke sets up his police station right next door to Chloe Hobb's Sticks and Strings knitting shop. As the two come in contact with each other, magic starts to happen and they fall in love. Great for Chloe, for she becomes into her powers-and not so great for Chloe, for nothing can last with a human. As Chloe deals with all the ins and outs of magic and trying to find her mother's Book of Spells, Luke deals with greater things like understanding why there are sparks every time he touches Chloe and the suspicion that something is trying to do him great harm.

Barbara Bretton knits a story using the magic of vampires, witches, and fairies. For a town like Sugar Maple that is made up of magical creatures, all things are possible under extra ordinary circumstances, including love between a human and a sorcerer. The question is whether the love of a human and the love of sorcerer can sustain the magick of the town.

Side note: Although I am not a knitter myself, the 10 things you need to know about knitting in general are quite funny as well as the 10 things you need to know about knitting lace and knitting socks in the back of the book are a keeper.

Armchair Interviews says: Excellent read--a mix of paranormal and romance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2009
Sugar Maple, Vermont is the picture perfect town. It has no crime, no police force, and no human residents. Well, almost none. Chloe Hobbs, owner of the popular knitting shop, Sticks & Strings, is the only human living in Sugar Maple. She's also the daughter of a sorceress and holds the town's very future in her hands. When the spell protecting the town from harm begins to weaken, the town residents are out in full matchmaking force for Chloe. Then Sugar Maple experiences its first murder when a tourist, Suzanne Marsden is found dead. And that's only the beginning of the trouble.

Luke MacKenzie has been sent to Sugar Maple to investigate the death of his childhood friend, Suzanne. What he finds is a town that is much more than it seems, a town filled with secrets an outsider like him isn't supposed to uncover. Luke also finds himself deeply drawn to the beautiful owner of Sticks & Strings. But love between Chloe and a man who's fully human is the last thing the residents of Sugar Maple want to occur.

Casting Spells is an enchantingly written yarn that captured my interest from the very first page and didn't let go. It's a fresh, fun, captivating read that still puts a smile on my face when I think of it.

I'll be honest; I generally do not like romances written in the first person, as I don't feel as connected to the protagonist who isn't narrating. Yet Barbara Bretton deftly works around this by writing the book from both Chloe and Luke's points of view (with clearly labeled viewpoint changes, which I appreciate). I loved being inside both their heads, getting to connect fully with both hero and heroine. Both Chloe and Luke are immensely likeable, and by writing the story in the first person, Ms. Bretton gifts readers with insight into all their individual eccentricities without it ever seeming forced or detracting from the story. Put simply, Chloe and Luke felt real and they were characters that, were they real, I would love to know.

As for the other residents of Sugar Maple, the faeries, vampires, werewolves, and the like, they were vast, varied and interesting. A town filled with magical beings makes for some quirky incidents, and I loved every one of them. After finishing Casting Spells I wanted nothing more than to visit Sugar Maple, and admittedly cursed when forced by reality to acknowledge that I couldn't. I absolutely loved Casting Spells. It was a fluid, fast-paced tale filled with original, memorable characters I grew to love. This may be the first book I've ever read by Ms. Bretton, but it will definitely not be the last. Pure magick!

Shayna
Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The quaint, picture perfect town of Sugar Maple in rural Vermont is far from ordinary, though you wouldn't guess by looking at it. You see, it's populated entirely by otherwordly beings - faeries, trolls, and the like. And the magical town has been protected from harm for hundreds of years by a special spell, and not a single crime has ever occurred. Now the spell is losing its strength, and the fate of Sugar Maple is in the hands of single, mostly human, yarn shop owner Chloe. In Sticks and Strings, "yarn never tangles" and "you always get gauge." But the natives are getting restless, and they want Chloe to produce an heir to the spell. When an outsider drowns one night in the icy skating pond, and the state sends in a detective to get to the bottom of it.

This is a fluffy, whimsical plot that demands total suspension of any sense of reality. Recommended for those who enjoy light romance novels with a hefty dose of faery dust.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
#1 HALL OF FAMEon November 4, 2008
In Sugar Maple, Vermont, being the daughter of a sorcerer, Chloe Hobbs knows the rules that to inherit her magical power she must fall in love. However, half-breed Chloe, owner of Sticks and Strings knit shop in the northern side of the New England state, has vowed to never repeat her mom's error of tragically falling in love with a mortal; only the paranormal hunks will do for her.

Boston Homicide Detective Luke MacKenzie is loaned to Vermont to investigate a murder in Sugar Maple when he and Chloe meet. They are attracted to one another, but he is a dreaded human. Still Chloe begins to fall in love, which means she needs to learn how to use her powers even as she must choose between Luke and her town.

Whimsical and satirical, CASTING SPELLS lives up to its title as Barbara Bretton casts a spell on readers with a charming urban fantasy romantic police procedural. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as Chloe's brains says no, her heart says yes; Luke is confused with what he sees being done by the weird (to him) townsfolk, but is more bewildered by his feelings for the knit store owner. The whodunit is cleverly designed so that the audience will relish visiting northern Vermont in November while wanting sequels starring residents of the small New England town whose ancestors fled Salem.

Harriet Klausner
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2008
Chloe is the owner of Sticks and Sring a knit shop in picturesque Sugar Maple Vermont where nothing and no one is what they appear to be except for the new Police Chief Luke Mackenzie who is 100% human & male. When the unthinkable happens in crimeless Sugar Maple the state sends Luke to investigate and he starts with Chloe and the sparks literally start flying and don't stop.
Casting Spells is Ms. Bretton's foray into paranormal romance and it's wonderful. Her characters are well developed and very interesting weather you love or hate them and believe me there will be some you really hate. The story is really enchanting and the town of Sugar Maple will be next on my list of where to go on vacation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 24, 2008
It all started with a death....

The town of Sugar Maple hasn't had a death in ages. A magickal spell cast has kept this town filled with supernatural denizens safe from the human world, but the spell is wearing thin. Only Chloe Hobbs, a human with no magickal powers and the owner of a knitting shop, can change things by falling in love. But is Luke Mackenzie the right man for her? He's in Sugar Maple to investigate a possible murder but will he lose his own heart in the process? Magickal mayhem is about to erupt in this formerly quiet town!

Barbara Bretton delves into the world of the paranormal romance with this charming, cozy-like tale. CASTING SPELLS is an interesting meld of romance, paranormal romance, and a cozy knitting mystery. One can't help but be thoroughly enchanted by the delightful ambiance of the story as Ms. Bretton sets a smooth pace for the story, gradually building up to the grand finale.

CASTING SPELLS alternates perspectives as the story is told from both Luke and Chloe's points of views. The varying perspectives keep the story solidly grounded as Luke is a cop and very much focused on the here and now while Chloe is more ethereal, used to a world in which magick is all around her. Each section flows nicely into the next as the two viewpoints mesh together quite well. The side story of Gunnar is a poignant one and only adds to the overall mystique as we see it unfold from the perspectives of Luke and Chloe.

Barbara Bretton writes a tale that will appeal across genres. While paranormal lovers such as myself will delight at the thought of a town populated by fairies, imps, trolls, and other supernatural creatures, contemporary fans of Ms. Bretton will also enjoy the very solid romance that she is well known for writing. The knitting tips at the end are an added bonus as CASTING SPELLS is sure to cast one on readers!

COURTESY OF CK2S KWIPS AND KRITIQUES
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2013
I was planning to really enjoy this book, but it left me rather flat. First I kept going back to fiction data base to make sure I hadn't started with the second book in the series as she referenced many things that had happened in the past. I don't like first person, but her voices were okay to read, what I didn't like was the switching back and forth so often. Yes, sections were clearly labeled as to who was supposed to be speaking now, but I found that kept taking me out of the story instead of flowing. I don't read every single word in a sentence and I would be reading down to the next "I" and get confused and realize it was now under the heading Luke and it was the guy speaking Then suddenly it would be labeled Clare or whatever her name was and you had a new "I". Perhaps that won't bother you. Very little really happened in the story for all the pages it took to write it. It was a nice idea with pleasant characters, but a little irritating and nothing that's going on my "to keep shelves"; in fact I have the next two in the series and they are going to my local library sale unread.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2009
I was very surprised by this; I was expecting a very light, fluffy read but this was much more intricate and interesting. The magical world she develops is very unique, and the characters are all very real and lovable. The relationship between Chloe and Luke was really sweet, and I absolutely loved Gunnar, who I just felt so sorry for. However, it was pretty easy to figure out who the 'bad' guys were, although I wasn't sure exactly how Bretton was going to resolve matters. It's biggest value I think is in the interesting world Bretton builds and her character development. Just a very interesting read; I'm looking forward to trying the sequel, "Laced with Magic."

P.S.- The stuff about knitting is very minimal and doesn't detract or distract from the story, even if *like me* you know nothing about knitting.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2009
This book was bad - really bad. I've read supernatural books before but I actually didn't anticipate this one would be so .. unbelievable. The characters were weird (fairies, elves, shapeshifters) and there was one human living amongst them in a modern-day Vermont town. The basic premise is that the human, Chloe Hobbs, has hidden magic that has yet to be discovered and, it seems, true love is the only way to make her magic develop and save the town from its own evilness. The title corresponds to Chloe's line of work - she owns the local knitting shop. I've read almost all of Bretton's romance novels and have generally enjoyed their mature romances and sugary appeal; this book was a complete departure and not one that I enjoyed. I suppose it was just to unrealistic for my tastes and the characters weren't very well-developed or interesting. The cop who visits Sugar Maple - Luke - eventually finds out about this magical town and doesn't even blink an eye... not too likely. This is not a romance in the traditional sense; the leads share one or two chaste kisses and their love scene is cut (not described). Totally a waste of time and trees.
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