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    Review of DAMSEL UNDER STRESS by Shanna Swendson (see her website)


    Ballantine Books, May 2007

    Katie Chandler has been through a lot to get her guy. Dealing with magic, negotiating with Merlin, that kind of thing is all in a day's work, but saving the world can get old. Finally, though, sexy wizard Owen Palmer has admitted he wants to date Katie. She even has a fairy godmother flitting around trying to make things right with just the right romantic atmosphere, wardrobe choices, and situations to hurry the romance along. With Christmas approaching, Owen even invites Katie home to meet his foster parents. Can it get more romantic than that?

    Well, yes. Take the fairy godmother. She certainly means well, but her attitudes haven't adjusted from Cinderella times. And setting Katie up to be rescued, especially when evil wizards are an ever-present threat turns out to be anything but romantic. Speaking of those evil wizards, they aren't going to take a holiday to let Katie and Owen enjoy their romance.

    Once again, Katie and Owen have got to take a break from the romance to go into world-saving mode. But now that Owen has romantic feelings for Katie, can he trust himself to do the right thing, or will he be so distracted making sure she's all right that he loses concentration on the real enemy?

    Author Shanna Swendson (see more reviews of novels by Swendson) continues her Katie Chandler series with another engaging combination of chick-lit sensibilities and paranormal adventure. Some authors would have troubles pulling off a sympathetic character who is as interested in making sure her shoes (and bra) make the right statement for a guy as she is in tracking down those who want to use magic for evil purposes, but Swendson makes Katie seem real, with the kind of complexity that makes it okay for her to want both a happy ending for the world and a happy ending for Katie Chandler as well. Owen, with his combination of extreme power (and wealth) and shyness makes for an endearing love interest. And Katie's female roommates provide a sounding board that let's Katie dwell on the romantic possibilities even as she prepares to go out and combat evil.

    I had a little trouble with the whole eliminating magical immunity thing. Katie's immunity has proved useful (and life-saving) so many times, Merlin's decision to let her suspend it simply so they could see what non-magical advertisements the evil wizards were running seemed driven by story need rather than by logic (why not just ask her roommates what commercial they were watching?). Still, Swendson manages to make it acceptable.

    DAMSEL UNDER STRESS is a charming story with emotional depth, as well as some charming characters, dragons, and the whole world-saving thing.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 4/03/08

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