Monday, November 20, 2017

Black Arts, Tarts and Gypsy Carts by Erin Johnson - #review #giveaway

With the Summer Sea Carnival visiting the enchanted island of Bijou Mer, Imogen jumps at the chance to help run the royal bakery booth. It’ll get her out of the palace and allow her to continue avoiding her feelings for a certain engaged prince.

Imogen’s plans to lay low are shattered when the world-famous necromancer, Madame Zerna, is found dead, sawed in half on the dark magician’s table and Imogen’s friend Rhonda is caught red-handed. With incriminating evidence piling up against Rhonda, Zerna’s rival, Imogen promises to help clear her name by finding the real murderer.

But between running the booth, encouraging Maple as she struggles to lead as head baker, and taking spell lessons from the friendly strong man, Imogen’s got her hands full. And it’s no easier getting information from the evasive dark magician or Madame Zerna’s secretive assistant. Even Rhonda’s hiding something.

With the Night of the Dead fast approaching, and Rhonda headed for a maximum security witch prison, Imogen races to unearth the real killer in time to save her friend. But in a mysterious carnival where nothing’s as it seems, will Imogen have the magical powers to keep from being on the chopping block herself?



I think I liked this second installment of the "Spells and Caramels Mysteries" even more than the first, aptly called Sea Shells, Spells and Caramels.  I've had time to settle into the alternate universe of Bijou Mer and reading about Imogen & Co. is like returning to visit friends.

And after Imogen and the prince's *ahem* 'introduction' in the previous book, we get all the delicious awkwardness they have around each other in Black Arts. I think he truly enjoys baking, but of course, it doesn't hurt that Imogen is there full time in the royal bakery.  Imogen can't deny the attraction, but there's the whole 'he's royalty and I'm a bakery employee' social class impediment, and the small problem of the prince's fiancee who makes regular appearances.  (I'm holding out a little hope that she will realize that Fire Kingdom and Water Kingdom don't mix.)

So there's a carnival going on and the prince thought it would be good to display the Water Kingdom's baking skills, so he suggests a booth.  Imogen is only too happy to volunteer to staff it as that would get her out of the castle (and away from the prince). 

Iggy, the baking flame, goes with her in all his snarky glory.  Imogen is even going to help him on Night of the Dead, where the living can go to the cemetery and speak to the souls of those who died in the last year.  Those passages are actually kind of touching.

Imogen is diligently trying to harness her magick, which she didn't even know she possessed for most of her life.  But she is a 'swallow' - which is the type of which who draws power, not from inside herself, but from the world around her - in a good way, not the soul-sucking, leave-nothing-behind way.  (My, that's a vivid image, isn't it? *LOL*)  She has to learn from another swallow...and guess who the only one around is?  That's right, Prince Hank!  But she doesn't want to learn from Hank because there's all those proximity alarm concerns with him. ;)  But, there happens to be a witch (warlock?) performing at the carnival who is also a swallow.  Lucky Imogen, right?  (Really, is anything ever that simple?)

There is a lot to 'swallow' *book pun alert* in Black Arts, but Ms. Johnson weaves her own spell with her words and it was really easy to follow.  I am seriously excited for the release of Mermaid Fins, Winds and Rolling Pins (book 3) ... (drum roll please) ... TOMORROW (Tuesday, 21 November)!!!!



A native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh. In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).




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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)

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