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Charming (Pax Arcana Series #1)

Charming (Pax Arcana Series #1)

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by Elliott James
     
 

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Sharp, sarcastic, and efficiently lethal, John Charming would feel right at home having drinks with Dean Winchester and Harry Dresden. If you're looking for a new urban fantasy series to pick up, CHARMING is a guaranteed page-turner.

John Charming isn't your average Prince...
He comes from a line of Charmings -- an illustrious family of dragon

Overview

Sharp, sarcastic, and efficiently lethal, John Charming would feel right at home having drinks with Dean Winchester and Harry Dresden. If you're looking for a new urban fantasy series to pick up, CHARMING is a guaranteed page-turner.

John Charming isn't your average Prince...
He comes from a line of Charmings -- an illustrious family of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers dating back to before the fall of Rome. Trained by a modern day version of the Knights Templar, monster hunters who have updated their methods from chain mail and crossbows to Kevlar and shotguns, John Charming was one of the best--until a curse made him one of the abominations the Knights were sworn to hunt.
That was a lifetime ago. Now, John tends bar under an assumed name in rural Virginia and leads a peaceful, quiet life. That is, until a vampire and a blonde walked into his bar...

CHARMING is the first novel in a new urban fantasy series which gives a new twist to the Prince Charming tale. Catch the next in the series with DARING and FEARLESS.
Short Fiction in the Pax Arcana world: Charmed I'm SureDon't Go Chasing WaterfallsPushing LuckSurreal EstateDog-Gone

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
James’s debut delivers a solid though sometimes familiar-feeling tale. Despite being descended from an illustrious line of monster killers, John Charming’s supernatural powers have led him to become a fugitive from the Knights Templar, who trained him. When a tall and unusually clean-smelling athletic blonde walks into John’s rural Virginia bar, John knows it’s time to run. But John can’t ignore his knightly training, and he delays to kill some vampires. The blonde Valkyrie named Sig saves his life, and something about her convinces John to stay and help her band of racially stereotyped monster hunters—including a pot-smoking exterminator, an Episcopalian ex-priest, an immoral Naga software mogul, and an Eastern European psychic—clean out the local vampire hive in a plot that sometimes feels boilerplate but eventually takes a darker, more personal twist. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"The Pax Arcana books are seriously good reads. Action, humor, and heart with unexpected twists and turns. If you are (like me) waiting for the next Butcher or Hearne—pick up Elliot James. Then you can bite your nails waiting for the next James, too."—Patricia Briggs, New York Times #1 bestselling author of the Mercy Thompson series"

Loved it! Charming is a giant gift basket of mythology and lore delivered by a brilliant new voice in urban fantasy. Elliott James tells stories that are action-packed, often amusing, and always entertaining."—Kevin Hearne, author of Hounded"

I loved this book from start to finish. Exciting and innovative, Charming is a great introduction to a world I look forward to spending a lot more time in."—New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire"

James's world is rich and complex and well worth diving into."—Richard Kadrey"

In a saturated literary realm, James's tale stands out for the gritty, believable world he builds... This is masculine urban fantasy in the vein of Jim Butcher and Mark del Franco."—Booklist"

Grab some snacks and settle back as splendid debut author James serves up a Prince Charming tale yanked sideways. John Charming comes from a prominent line of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers trained by the Knights Templar, but now he has a problem: He has become what they hunt. James' reluctant hero faces threats and danger with a smart-ass attitude that keeps the narrative fast paced, edgy and amusing. Mark this name down — you will undoubtedly be seeing more from James!"—RT Book Reviews"

This debut introduces a self-deprecating, wisecracking, and honorable-to-a-fault hero who can stand up to such established protagonists as Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden and Seanen McGuire's October Daye. Combining action and romance — with an emphasis on action — this is a top-notch new series opener for lovers of urban fantasy."—Library Journal (Starred review)

Booklist
"In a saturated literary realm, James's tale stands out for the gritty, believable world he builds... This is masculine urban fantasy in the vein of Jim Butcher and Mark del Franco."
Romantic Times
Grab some snacks and settle back as splendid debut author James serves up a Prince Charming tale yanked sideways. John Charming comes from a prominent line of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers trained by the Knights Templar, but now he has a problem: He has become what they hunt. James' reluctant hero faces threats and danger with a smart-ass attitude that keeps the narrative fast paced, edgy and amusing. Mark this name down — you will undoubtedly be seeing more from James!
RT Book Reviews
"Grab some snacks and settle back as splendid debut author James serves up a Prince Charming tale yanked sideways. John Charming comes from a prominent line of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers trained by the Knights Templar, but now he has a problem: He has become what they hunt. James' reluctant hero faces threats and danger with a smart-ass attitude that keeps the narrative fast paced, edgy and amusing. Mark this name down -- you will undoubtedly be seeing more from James!"
Richard Kadrey
"James's world is rich and complex and well worth diving into."
New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire
"I loved this book from start to finish. Exciting and innovative, Charming is a great introduction to a world I look forward to spending a lot more time in."
Kevin Hearne
"Loved it! Charming is a giant gift basket of mythology and lore delivered by a brilliant new voice in urban fantasy. Elliott James tells stories that are action-packed, often amusing, and always entertaining."
Library Journal
★ 09/15/2013
John Charming, formerly a member of the modern Knights Templar and sworn to protect mortals from supernatural threats until he was infected by a werewolf, now tends bar under an assumed name in a small Virginia town. When a stunning blonde and a vampire intent on creating havoc enter his bar on the same night, he embarks on a strange partnership that leads him to confront his true nature as well as his destiny. VERDICT This debut introduces a self-deprecating, wisecracking, and honorable-to-a-fault hero who can stand up to such established protagonists as Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden and Seanan McGuire's October Daye. Combining action and romance—with an emphasis on action—this is a top-notch new series opener for lovers of urban fantasy.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316253383
Publisher:
Orbit
Publication date:
09/24/2013
Series:
Pax Arcana Series , #1
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
26,271
File size:
2 MB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Charming


By Elliott James

Orbit

Copyright © 2013 Elliott James
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-316-25339-0



CHAPTER 1

A BLONDE AND A VAMPIRE WALK INTO A BAR ...


Once upon a time, she smelled wrong. Well, no, that's not exactly true. She smelled clean, like fresh snow and air after a lightning storm and something hard to identify, something like sex and butter pecan ice cream. Honestly, I think she was the best thing I'd ever smelled. I was inferring "wrongness" from the fact that she wasn't entirely human.

I later found out that her name was Sig.

Sig stood there in the doorway of the bar with the wind behind her, and there was something both earthy and unearthly about her. Standing at least six feet tall in running shoes, she had shoulders as broad as a professional swimmer's, sinewy arms, and well-rounded hips that were curvy and compact. All in all, she was as buxom, blonde, blue-eyed, and clear-skinned as any woman who had ever posed for a Swedish tourism ad.

And I wanted her out of the bar, fast.

You have to understand, Rigby's is not the kind of place where goddesses were meant to walk among mortals. It is a small, modest establishment eking out a fragile existence at the tail end of Clayburg's main street. The owner, David Suggs, had wanted a quaint pub, but instead of decorating the place with dartboards or Scottish coats of arms or ceramic mugs, he had decided to celebrate southwest Virginia culture and covered the walls with rusty old railroad equipment and farming tools.

When I asked why a bar—excuse me, I mean pub—with a Celtic name didn't have a Celtic atmosphere, Dave said that he had named Rigby's after a Beatles song about lonely people needing a place to belong.

"Names have power," Dave had gone on to inform me, and I had listened gravely as if this were a revelation.

Speaking of names, "John Charming" is not what it reads on my current driver's license. In fact, about the only thing accurate on my current license is the part where it says that I'm black-haired and blue-eyed. I'm six foot one instead of six foot two and about seventy-five pounds lighter than the 250 pounds indicated on my identification. But I do kind of look the way the man pictured on my license might look if Trevor A. Barnes had lost that much weight and cut his hair short and shaved off his beard. Oh, and if he were still alive.

And no, I didn't kill the man whose identity I had assumed, in case you're wondering. Well, not the first time anyway.

Anyhow, I had recently been forced to leave Alaska and start a new life of my own, and in David Suggs I had found an employer who wasn't going to be too thorough with his background checks. My current goal was to work for Dave for at least one fiscal year and not draw any attention to myself.

Which was why I was not happy to see the blonde.

For her part, the blonde didn't seem too happy to see me either. Sig focused on me immediately. People always gave me a quick flickering glance when they walked into the bar—excuse me, the pub—but the first thing they really checked out was the clientele. Their eyes were sometimes predatory, sometimes cautious, sometimes hopeful, often tired, but they only returned to me after being disappointed. Sig's gaze, however, centered on me like the oncoming lights of a train—assuming train lights have slight bags underneath them and make you want to flex surreptitiously. Those same startlingly blue eyes widened, and her body went still for a moment.

Whatever had triggered her alarms, Sig hesitated, visibly debating whether to approach and talk to me. She didn't hesitate for long, though—I got the impression that she rarely hesitated for long—and chose to go find herself a table.

Now, it was a Thursday night in April, and Rigby's was not empty. Clayburg is host to a small private college named Stillwaters University, one of those places where parents pay more money than they should to get an education for children with mediocre high school records, and underachievers with upper- middle-class parents tend to do a lot of heavy drinking. This is why Rigby's manages to stay in business. Small bars with farming implements on the walls don't really draw huge college crowds, but the more popular bars tend to stay packed, and Rigby's does attract an odd combination of local rednecks and students with a sense of irony. So when a striking six-foot blonde who wasn't an obvious transvestite sat down in the middle of the bar, there were people around to notice.

Even Sandra, a nineteen-year-old waitress who considers customers an unwelcome distraction from covert texting, noticed the newcomer. She walked up to Sig promptly instead of making Renee, an older waitress and Rigby's de facto manager, chide her into action.

For the next hour I pretended to ignore the new arrival while focusing on her intently. I listened in—my hearing is as well developed as my sense of smell—while several patrons tried to introduce themselves. Sig seemed to have a knack for knowing how to discourage each would-be player as fast as possible.

She told suitors that she wanted to be up-front about her sex change operation because she was tired of having it cause problems when her lovers found out later, or she told them that she liked only black men, or young men, or older men who made more than seventy thousand dollars a year. She told them that what really turned her on was men who were willing to have sex with other men while she watched. She mentioned one man's wife by name, and when the weedy-looking grad student doing a John Lennon impersonation tried the sensitive-poet approach, she challenged him to an arm-wrestling contest. He stared at her, sitting there exuding athleticism, confidence, and health—three things he was noticeably lacking—and chose to be offended rather than take her up on it.

There was at least one woman who seemed interested in Sig as well, a cute sandy-haired college student who was tall and willowy, but when it comes to picking up strangers, women are generally less likely to go on a kamikaze mission than men. The young woman kept looking over at Sig's table, hoping to establish some kind of meaningful eye contact, but Sig wasn't making any.

Sig wasn't looking at me either, but she held herself at an angle that kept me in her peripheral vision at all times.

For my part, I spent the time between drink orders trying to figure out exactly what Sig was. She definitely wasn't undead. She wasn't a half-blood Fae either, though her scent wasn't entirely dissimilar. Elf smell isn't something you forget, sweet and decadent, with a hint of honey blossom and distant ocean. There aren't any full-blooded Fae left, of course—they packed their bags and went back to Fairyland a long time ago—but don't mention that to any of the mixed human descendants that the elves left behind. Elvish half-breeds tend to be somewhat sensitive on that particular subject. They can be real bastards about being bastards.

I would have been tempted to think that Sig was an angel, except that I've never heard of anyone I'd trust ever actually seeing a real angel. God is as much an article of faith in my world as he, she, we, they, or it is in yours.

Stumped, I tried to approach the problem by figuring out what Sig was doing there. She didn't seem to enjoy the ginger ale she had ordered—didn't seem to notice it at all, just sipped from it perfunctorily. There was something wary and expectant about her body language, and she had positioned herself so that she was in full view of the front door. She could have just been meeting someone, but I had a feeling that she was looking for someone or something specific by using herself as bait ... but as to what and why and to what end, I had no idea. Sex, food, or revenge seemed the most likely choices.

I was still mulling that over when the vampire walked in.


Interlude

THE LAST INTERLUDE, I PROMISE

This is how the Pax Arcana works: if one night you couldn't sleep and wound up looking out your window at three in the morning, and your next-door neighbor was changing into a wolf right beneath you ... you wouldn't see it. Don't get me wrong, the image would be refracted on a beam of light and enter your optic nerves and everything, but you would go on with your life without really registering that you'd seen a werewolf any more than you noticed or remembered a particular leaf on a tree that you'd seen that morning. Technically seen anyway.

This is not a dramatic spell ... it is simply an extension of how the human mind already works. If our brains didn't dump most of the massive amounts of sensory information that they take in every second, they wouldn't be able to function. We wouldn't be able to distinguish the present from the past, and our brains would overload like crashing computers.

This is why you occasionally see something strange or disconcerting in the corner of your eye, but when you whirl around, there's nothing there. The reason these experiences are so unsettling is that what you're really experiencing is an afterimage. Something you saw five seconds or five minutes or five days ago, without really registering it, was so disturbing that once the danger was gone, the subconscious memory briefly fought off the effects of the Pax Arcana and resurfaced like a drowning person breaking water ... before getting pulled under again.

But just suppose that you looked out your window and did register the werewolf. Let's imagine that you are unusually sensitive, or you have a head injury, or a dog attack traumatized you as a small child. For whatever reason, assume something went wrong with the spell, and you actually saw the werewolf even though it wasn't directly threatening you. Such incidents are rare, but they do happen.

Ask yourself this question: if you actually did notice your neighbor changing into a wolf, would you believe what you were seeing with your own two eyes? Seriously? I don't think you would.

I think you'd imagine you were having a lucid dream. Or you'd think your neighbor was playing some kind of elaborate prank with high-tech special effects. You might come up with increasingly far-fetched and paranoid theories about how drugs got into your system. Lacking a more rational explanation, you might even become convinced that you were losing your mind. Perhaps you might go to a therapist later or attempt to self-medicate. Most likely, you'd go back to your normal life the next day and wait cautiously for any further signs of mental breakdown, and as long as nothing else happened, you wouldn't say anything about it. To anyone. Ever.

Be honest. Am I wrong?

There are tens of thousands of people, all around you, maybe hundreds of thousands, who at some point have experienced something that they can't explain. And these people are silent. They are ashamed. They are afraid. They are convinced that they are the only ones, and so they say nothing. That is the real reason the Pax Arcana is so powerful. Rationality is king, and your emperor isn't wearing any clothes.

CHAPTER 2

IF SHOVING YOU IS WRONG, I DON'T WANT TO DO RIGHT


The vampire didn't walk into the bar so much as flow. Like water. Like night. He was wearing a tight black T-shirt and dark jeans over muscles that seemed to have been sculpted from ivory. His hair was black and tousled, framing piercing green eyes that burned with banked passion in spite of the cold smile on his cruel slash of a mouth.

OK, just kidding. Sorry. That whole thing about vampires being übersexy Euro- trash? It's a myth. Vampires project a low-level mental command called a glamour that makes any mortal who meets them see them in the most attractive light possible. Personally, I'm immune to this kind of glamour—it's part of what I am. When I look at vampires, I see what's really there: walking corpses with pale white skin the color and texture of worm flesh, lank greasy hair, bad teeth, and breath that smells like a butcher shop.

Popular young adult novels notwithstanding, vampires only sparkle when they burn.

This particular vampire was wearing a T-shirt that was green, not black, and it was faded. There were indeterminate stains on the shirt where bleach had been applied to something that didn't want to come out—I'm assuming blood, although I might be stereotyping. His jeans were blue and showed signs of wear in the usual places, and like a lot of vampires he had shaved his skull completely bald. Unwashed hair gets grody fast, and most vampires have an innate phobia about being submerged in running water—anything even remotely symbolic of baptism or birth makes them extremely uncomfortable. Only the strongest-willed vampires force themselves to clean up regularly, and I could smell that this guy wasn't one of them. His eyes were close-set and his nose was bony, and they looked out of place on a face as broad as his was, as if his features had been pinched by a giant index finger and thumb.

What was really disturbing about the vampire was that those same eyes were bloodshot, his fangs were bared, and he was radiating hostility. He was so beyond normal, in fact, that he actually triggered the Pax Arcana.

Which was why no one was paying any real attention to him at all, at least not on a surface level. A few people who were texting frowned as the spell surge disrupted their signals, but that was about it. That's one of the things that sucks about magic: it moves molecules around; and when molecules move, electrons shift; and when electrons shift, the air becomes electromagnetically charged. This is why all of those reality shows about ghost hunters basically amount to a bunch of guys with science degrees getting excited while they talk about energy readings, and you're just sitting there bored watching a TV screen fill up with fuzz and static before the cameras go off-line.

This is also where all those old expressions like hair-raising and spine-tingling come from. They were coined centuries ago by people who didn't have the scientific terminology to describe air saturated with a low- level electrical charge.

Anyhow, the reason the vampire's behavior was self-destructive was that the Pax Arcana may be powerful, but it has limits. All acts of magic require energy, and if every supernatural creature on the planet behaved the way this vampire was behaving, the Pax would become overtaxed. Or, I suppose, overPaxed.

If the vampire persisted in this kind of reckless behavior, he was eventually going to attract the attention of a knight, or a supernatural being who didn't want his or her or its way of life disrupted. Some supernatural being like ... the blonde.

Which is why I said, "Oh shit." I had finally figured out what Sig was doing there.

Being a vampire, he heard me curse even though it was under my breath and across a bar. Being a vampire, a species that's only slightly less territorial than junkyard dogs or evil stepmothers, he took it as a challenge. And, being a vampire, he stopped staring at Sig and looked at me.

Being me, I returned the look. I didn't put anything overt into it, but just the fact that he could tell I was really looking back at him was significant. I held his gaze and let my body go completely still, which all animals recognize as a sign that someone is ready to either fight or flee ... and I wasn't going anywhere.

I'm kind of territorial myself. Granted, it wasn't my bar, but I was tending it. I was tending the hell out of it. And I wanted the vampire and the blonde to take it somewhere else, and fast.

He walked toward me, not stopping until he was at the bar directly across from me. "Give me whatever you have on draft," he rasped. Of course, he wasn't really ordering a beer. Vampires can eat or drink normal food, but they can't metabolize it, which means one way or another their bodies later wind up expelling their food or drink undigested.

No, when the vampire demanded I serve him, he was establishing a pecking order. Me badass. You Jane.

"Smell me," I invited quietly.

This guy was a newbie. For a second he thought this was some strange kind of insult, but he still hadn't gotten a good whiff of me, and when he realized that, his nostrils dilated. A vampire's sense of smell isn't as good as mine—he still hadn't smelled the blonde yet—but it's close.

"What the hell kind of a thrope are you?" he asked.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Charming by Elliott James. Copyright © 2013 Elliott James. Excerpted by permission of Orbit.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

An army brat and gypsy scholar, ELLIOTT JAMES is currently living in the Blue Ridge mountains of southwest Virginia. An avid reader since the age of three (or that's what his family swears anyhow), he has an abiding interest in mythology, martial arts, live music, hiking, and used bookstores.

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Charming 3.9 out of 5 based on 3 ratings. 46 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished the book. Well done Mr James. I would recommend this to anyone who loves Jim Butcher's Dresden files.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really, really enjoyed this book, after reading it the same day it came out. While the cover may look almost a little campy, the story is great. A well thought out plot, twists and turns, as well as the dangerous, romantic aspect. One of the best things about this, was the character's voice. The fact that the author had the character involved with both 'worlds' (the Pax Arcana/Humans' Reality) made for a lot of development, just with the character belonging to both, but not belonging at all to either. Also, I think I've developed an author crush, just out of the sheer hilarity of his own responses to serious questions in the 'extras'. Anyone who enjoyed Kate Griffin, Ilona Andrews, or Zelzany will probably find a joyful read here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed this, and I love the protagonist; he is a great character that I was rooting for. I'm looking forward to more books in this series. It reminded me of Jim Butcher's works.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read! Looking forward to more!
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Charming by Elliott James Book One of the Pax Arcana series Publisher: Orbit Publication Date: September 24, 2013 Rating: 3 stars Source: eARC from NetGalley Summary (from Goodreads): John Charming isn't your average Prince...  He comes from a line of Charmings — an illustrious family of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers dating back to before the fall of Rome. Trained by a modern day version of the Knights Templar, monster hunters who have updated their methods from chainmail and crossbows to kevlar and shotguns, he was one of the best. That is — until he became the abomination the Knights were sworn to hunt. That was a lifetime ago. Now, he tends bar under an assumed name in rural Virginia and leads a peaceful, quiet life. One that shouldn't change just because a vampire and a blonde walked into his bar... Right? What I Liked: Read the summary. Doesn't this book just SOUND awesome?! Paranormal fiction with a tiny bit of history involved... I was all over this one on NetGalley. And look at the COVER! That wonderful, long sword, curling typography, and smoky background just make a fabulous cover. Am I right?! I must say, the action of the book lived up to the awesome cover. There was plenty of action, but also, plenty of calculation and strategy. Those are some of the things I love about John - he's shred and intelligent and rarely do his instincts lead him astray. John has a quiet job as a bartender. He's on the down-low, not bothering anyone, minding his own business. But then, a rogue vampire and a hot non-human female walk into his bar... and things get weird. The vampire is one of many, following the lead of a queen bee vampire. The non-human female is tracking them.  Turns out, the non-human female is a Valkyrie. Also, John is attracted to her, and vice versa. But she has a boyfriend, an astral traveler (I think that's what they're called?), and he's got a bad, NASTY attitude. Sig, the female, is part of a team, with her boyfriend, his two nephews, and a man whose name I cannot remember. It takes a little convincing, but John agrees to help them - after he makes sure they know that he has to disappear after the hunt. The boyfriend hates John, the other guy (I think his name is Choo) likes John, Sig likes John. So, you can imagine the car rides, when they are out hunting.  The book is in John's POV (first person), which was nice. There are no alternations in POV - it's just John. So, we get a lot of drivel and info-dumping, but it fits John. Sort of.  I like the historical/mythological parts of this book. John is a "Charming", and he hunts the bad guys. We have vampires, Valkyries, astral travelers, humans, werewolves and more weird creatures.  The romance is hilarious. John and Sig don't really get together, at any point in the book. Well, there is the scene at the grocery store. But Sig stays with her boyfriend (whose name I can't remember) because she feels guilty, but in the end, she and John are sort of a couple. Not really, though. The end resolves the vampire nest problem. And John figures things out about himself. It's not the end for John and Sig,which is good, I suppose, because their relationship is really messy at the end of the book. But, the end of this book is great! What I Did Not Like: Hmm, I mentioned that there is a lot of drivel and info-dumping. I also said that that was okay because it fits John. But honestly, there were a lot of points in the book where I was just like, SKIP! Or SKIM! I mean, if there are whole paragraphs after whole paragraphs, I'm likely to skip some of the information and details, and move on to where there is dialogue. Unfortunately, that's about fifty-fifty, in this book. John isn't always surrounded by people. Much of the book, he is alone. Hence, the drivel. So basically, there were points in this book where I just couldn't handle the boredom. But I muscled through this one, and I finished it. Believe me, that wasn't always the thought in my mind - to finish this one. In terms of the romance... while I liked that John and Sig didn't really have much of a physical relationship, I didn't like that it was all kind of unresolved in the end. I know there will be more books in this series, but really?! I'm not really liking the ambiguity. Would I Recommend It: I was REALLY excited about this one, and to be honest, I was let down a little, but I still would recommend it. It's a great action-filled book, with a little romance, but it's also a bit confusing, a bit dry, and a bit boring. Still, it was worth the read. Rating: 3 stars. I haven't decided yet if I want to read any of the future books in this series, but I'm sorry that I read this book!
FireHorse More than 1 year ago
Elliot James has crafted a solid first novel in this series, taking familiar elements and giving them fresh life. Charming is an enjoyable twist on the "Prince Charming" myth with the Knights Templar thrown in for good measure. James' characters are likeable and mostly believable. The story has a few flaws, but they don't really detract from an otherwise enjoyable and easy to read adventure. I look forward to the next installment in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Monster hunter stories are a dime a dozen. I bought this book on a lark, out of sheer boredom, then I couldn't put it down! I read it in one 12 1/2 hour midnite shift at work (shhh, don't tell! It was an incredibly slow night and someone had rolled up the streets all over the county, and nothing was happening). This book, the style, the character's, the story itself, just drew me in and wouldn't let me go. Kinda makes me wonder if there is some kind of secret spell on the data bytes that compels the reader to continue reading! There is tons of monster lore, and The Pax Arcana is very inventive, but that is not what kept me reading. The title character, John Charming, is very engaging. A damaged sort of hero with all kinds of issues, but a hero, none the less. And not your typical 'reluctant hero' that so many stories of this genre shovel at you (you know the type, the poor innocent average joe that gets roped in to saving the world). He is unrepentant, in your face, snide, smokin' hot, beyond capable, with one of the sharpest wits I have come across in a while, and...well...charming! I will be buying anything this fellow writes from now on, but I have to say, I want more of John Charming!
Bubwolf More than 1 year ago
In a glutted urban fantasy market, where every book starts to sound the same, Charming stands out. The mystery and the dry wit of the protagonist make this a worthy read.
Eloise_In_Paris More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It’s the first in the series and the debut novel from this author (although he has written a few short stories about John that can be found in ebook form). It’s a fun read. However it is not a fast read. Don’t get me wrong the story doesn’t lag, but there is a ton of information given about this world and it’s rules. For some this could be a information overload, to me it was perfect. Everything John encountered was explained in a fun witty way. The reasoning behind that is even explained at the end of the book. Also we got all of the main characters background’s. James makes everyone’s and everything’s motives clear. That was a refreshing change. John Charming is 76, but he looks 27. He has the wisdom and patience of a senior citizen, but his wit and attitude are that of a 20 something (although some of his references reveal his age). He like a cool Grandpa who knows that the kids are up to without looking like one. Sig was a okay romantic interest. She’s strong, smart, and a badass but her attachment to her psycho boyfriend Stanislov was annoying. The rest of the Scooby Gang was fun and the main villain was three dimensional. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.
JackieBCentralTexasJB More than 1 year ago
Read from September 09 to 14, 2013 Book Info  Paperback, 400 pages Expected publication: September 24th 2013 by Orbit original title Charming ISBN 0316253391 (ISBN13: 9780316253390) edition language English series Pax Arcana #1 Source:Netgalley EARC Book Buy Links  AMAZON  B&N  BOOK SYNOPSIS John Charming isn't your average Prince...  He comes from a line of Charmings — an illustrious family of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers dating back to before the fall of Rome. Trained by a modern day version of the Knights Templar, monster hunters who have updated their methods from chain mail and crossbows to kevlar and shotguns, he was one of the best. That is — until he became the abomination the Knights were sworn to hunt. That was a lifetime ago. Now, he tends bar under an assumed name in rural Virginia and leads a peaceful, quiet life. One that shouldn't change just because a vampire and a blonde walked into his bar... Right? My Thoughts The first book in a new series always has a learning curve for the reader, both to get to know the characters and their standing in the story and learning how the world works that the author uses as his setting. Author James Elliot dumps a lot of information concerning the "Pax Arcana" and the reason why it works the way it does, this quickly catches one up to speed on not only why humankind seems impervious to the supernaturals within their communities but also why beings like John exist and what their role has been since such things were recorded. This is a true tale of fantasy, set in modern times it allows you to easily feel comfortable within the scenes settings while at the same time it also makes no claim to it's characters being real but rather realistic in their personas. The plot of good versus evil is offset by a very cleverly constructed method of delivering information as needed when action takes place by explaining what is going on while it is happening, of course this can be at times a bit off putting to some because truthfully it is kind of surreal to learn the why in the middle of a fight scene but it worked for me at any rate. John Charming, otherwise known as Trevor A. Barnes, is not your everyday average bartender. One of a long line of "monster hunters", now living in obscure exile as a means to keep himself from his former brethren's radar, John is a likable smartass who you cannot help but enjoy as he swaggers across the pages in a bigger-than-life manner that was totally in keeping with an Urban Fantasy male lead! As best I can tell this is not one of the copycat tales of supernatural beings as the author has his own ideas that he shares with a style and flair that make every fact seem to be more real than what we have been taught in the more common lore handed down from book to book for many years now. I thoroughly enjoyed that particular aspect for it's originality as well as it's believability. If one is okay with "first book in a series" world and character building taken a bit to an extreme than you need to give this one a try, the first person narrative which keeps John Charming front and center is very easily followed and his character above all is just really fun to spend time with. My only hope is that in the next book more time is spent sticking to one storyline and making it as tight as his writing seems to indicate the author has the capability of doing. [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]
Anonymous 24 days ago
New and humourous take on the paranormal.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Join my camp to fight against the light bringers. Look for Van
Anonymous 9 months ago
*walked in* "Miss me?"
Anonymous 9 months ago
Im the alpha of haladis.
Anonymous 9 months ago
You dont need to know anything but my namr and pack im in haladis
Anonymous 12 months ago
I want so much more.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book. Fun read. You can't help but love the main character. He's sexy, funny, smart, brave and caring. Will definately be reading the rest of the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
scman More than 1 year ago
Good read while you're waiting for a favorite.
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SiliconWolf More than 1 year ago
Charming is alone. The first and only hybrid of Knight and Werewolf in existence, he is hated by both Knights and Weres. Even those who don't hate him will not help him for fear of drawing the wrath of his enemies. Staying alive means hiding, escape plans, backup identities, and constant vigilance. But then a valkyrie and a vampire walk into his bar...