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Fantasy Friday – Shady Lady


Shady Lady by Ann Aguirre

Review by reacherfan1909

My Grade: B-  (3.8*)

Ann Aguirre hit it big with the Corrine Solomon series.  In this third outing, Corrine and her ward, Shannon are back at her second hand pawn shop in Mexico City.  But Corrine made a powerful enemy of Mexican drug lord Montoya and she’s still looking over her shoulder.  Good thing too.  A lovely set of silver salt and pepper shakers are left on her steps in a box.  Thinking them the last of some stock she acquired, she opens the box.  It’s Eros and Psyche.  Using her gift, which has become almost painfully strong, she reads the history of one of the set, even seeing the woman who will eventually buy it, but she hesitates over the other half and just can’t touch it.  When Kel Ferguson, the Hand of God arrives, she knows it can’t be good.  Big, bald, tattooed, he’s a guardian, a rather surly one, and is only there when she’s in serious trouble – the kind that can get her dead.  The salt and pepper are dangerous.

Corrine and Kel head to a local witch who tells them the salt and pepper are hexed, and a very powerful directed hex for Corrine.  She can show them who did it – a man working blood magic.  Then she sends them to a powerful witch to get the hex removed. On the way back to the shop and her upstairs apartment, a sniper shoots at them.  Montoya has found her and in nothing flat, she, Shannon and Kel are on the run along with Butch, the demon fighting chihuahua.

Things don’t go smoothly at Catemaco, but they do get the curse lifted, as well the personal bad luck hex Corrine wasn’t aware she was carrying – and we learn more about the formidable Kel.  Once again, Montoya’s men are ahead of them, already at their hotel.  Kel takes care of things and they rush to Laredo, Texas to get Shannon to a safe place before following their desperate plan – find Montoya’s arch rival, Esteban,

Finding Esteban is no problem, because after getting Shannon to safety, Kel and Corrine are kidnapped and separated.  She’s the ‘guest’ of Estaban.  He has a challenge for her, a test of her ability to think and of her ability to discern the past by reading objects.  Allowed to take one person, she and Kel are dropped in a jungle somewhere and left to unravel Esteban’s puzzle.  Along the way, Corrine becomes more and more attracted to Kel as he lets down his guard and reveals more of himself and how he became what he is.  In the process, he becomes one of the more interesting characters to emerge from the series.  With everything on the line, and a very short time to get things done, the pair manage to do more than work together.

The strength of this book is the characters, and that’s also the weakness.  Esteban is well done, Shannon adds to the story, but then disappears, and the story is mostly a two character drama.  The plotting and pacing are both very good, as is the writing quality itself, a big plus in the world of messy, unpolished work.  What I didn’t like is something that seems to be endemic lately – women with indecisive love lives.  Be it mystery, UF, paranormal, we have a large group of strong leading ladies who can’t seem to make up their minds about the men in their lives.  It’s a character trait I find especially annoying.  I blame Janet Evanovich.  The Ranger-Morelli whipsaw has been driving me nuts for years and many authors seem hell bent on incorporating this kind of ‘torn between two lovers’ nonsense in their series.  It’s gotten old, trite, and overused.  Give it a rest already!

Then, at the very end, here comes an old love back into her life.  Sigh!  I could have done without that too.

Is Shady Lady worth a read?  Absolutely, especially for Anne Aguirre fans.  It is interesting, well written and you don’t need to have read the previous books to follow the story, though it helps.


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