Once upon Stilettos

( 68 )


Click your heels three times and say,
“There’s no place like Bloomies!”

Katie Chandler’s life is pure magic–literally. As an executive assistant at Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., she’s seen more than her share of fantastical occurrences. A mere Manhattan mortal, Katie is no wizard, but she’s a wiz at exposing “hokum” pocus, cloaked lies, and deceptive enchantments. And she’s fallen under the all-too-human spell of attraction to Owen, a ...

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Once upon Stilettos

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Click your heels three times and say,
“There’s no place like Bloomies!”

Katie Chandler’s life is pure magic–literally. As an executive assistant at Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., she’s seen more than her share of fantastical occurrences. A mere Manhattan mortal, Katie is no wizard, but she’s a wiz at exposing “hokum” pocus, cloaked lies, and deceptive enchantments. And she’s fallen under the all-too-human spell of attraction to Owen, a hunky wizard and coworker. Owen, however, is preoccupied. Someone has broken into his office and disrupted top-secret files, and it reeks of an inside job. CEO Merlin (yes, the Merlin) and taps Katie and her special ability to uncover the magical mole.

Keeping her feelings in check while sleuthing alongside Owen, Katie is shocked to discover that her immunity to magic is waning, putting her in grave danger. Soon she’s surrendering to the charms and enchantments of everyone and everything around her, including a killer pair of red stilettos. Katie must now conjure up her natural instincts to get to the bottom of the break-in, regain her power, and win the wizard of her dreams.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Bridget Jones, move over. . . . Fantasy for the Buffy, Sabrina and Bewitched crowd.”

“Once Upon Stilettos is not to be missed if you’re in the mood for a fast and funny read, where chick-lit meets urban fantasy.”
–Mary Jo Putney, author of A Kiss of Fate

“A delightful urban fairy tale . . . what more could a girl ask for?”
–Patricia Rice, author of Small Town Girl

Kirkus Reviews
City girl tries to find love and avoid evil wizard. In this sequel to Enchanted, Inc. (not reviewed), two wildly disparate fictional genres get together and leave nobody happy in the morning. Katie, the single Manhattanite who just doesn't know what to do with guys even when they come on to her, works not at a fashion magazine or publishing house but instead at MSI (Magic, Spells and Illusions), which is "kind of like a Microsoft for magic users, only not as into world domination." Though she doesn't have any supernatural abilities, Katie possesses a rare immunity to magic, "which in the magical world counts as sort of a superpower." Arguably, she should have one of the world's coolest jobs, but in Swendson's hands, it becomes just another standard office gig. In order to follow the recipe of chick-lit, she engages in some romantic back and forth with nerdy coworker Owen, as well as with the immeasurably more suave Ethan, and also in much should-I-buy? self-torture over a pair of ridiculously expensive red shoes. The fantasy element is dealt with in an even less satisfying manner. Katie has an enemy of sorts, an obnoxious wizard named Phelan Idris who's more irritating geek than terrifying death-dealer. Throughout, the author uses magic merely as a hook: "I don't like it when weird, magical stuff gets in the way of my personal life," Katie moans. Unfortunately, more of that weird, magical stuff could have helped make this less of a snooze. If J.K. Rowling had gotten to about page five of her first book and then started reading bad, watered-down romance novels, the result might have looked like this.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345481276
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/25/2006
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 315,834
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Read an Excerpt

It all began with the red shoes. I just didn't know it at the time.

I was out shopping with my roommate Gemma on a Saturday afternoon. That wasn't unusual. The unusual part was that we were shopping for me. Even more unusual was the fact that we were shopping for something for me to wear on a date—a real date. Not a blind-date setup, but an honest-to-goodness date with a guy who'd asked me out for a second date after a first date that could have made the record books for weirdness.

Any guy who asks you out for a second date even though he nearly had a nervous breakdown caused by your friends and coworkers on the first date has to be pretty special. He deserves a little extra effort. And that's why Gemma and I were in Bloomingdale's that Saturday.

"Let's go upstairs and look at shoes," she urged me, tugging at my sleeve.

"But we haven't found anything for me to wear yet," I protested. "How are we going to figure out what shoes I need?"

She looked at me with pity in her eyes and shook her head sadly, like a doctor about to tell me I had two weeks to live. "Oh, Katie, honey. You have so much to learn. We need to find the ultimate pair of shoes, and then we'll build an outfit around them."

When she bypassed the moderate shoes and continued up the escalators to the designer boutiques, I got the impression that her "ultimate" would exceed my budget. "Gemma," I warned, trying not to whine, "if we buy shoes up here, then I'll have to wear a plastic garbage bag as a dress, and I'll only be able to afford that if we already have some under the sink."

"We only have clear ones, so I doubt you want to go there," she said, not breaking stride. "And relax, I'm not going to make you buy designer shoes. We just come here for ideas and inspiration, then we'll buy the closest thing we can find at a more reasonable price."

I knew her well enough to know what she was doing, and it had nothing to do with putting together a great outfit for my date that night. She couldn't go into Bloomingdale's without making a pilgrimage to the holy shrine of shoes. Her pace quickened as we bypassed the designer boutiques and headed straight for the upscale shoe department. There she paused reverently at each display, lightly touching certain shoes. Every so often, she picked one up, held it to her breast, and closed her eyes in silent contemplation. I tried not to look at any of the shoes because I knew I couldn't afford them and there was no point in developing longings for things I couldn't have.

Not only was that a wise philosophy where shoes were concerned, it was also the reason I was going on this particular date. It only made sense to go out with the guy I could have, who fit every requirement I could think of for a man, rather than pining over someone I couldn't have. Ethan was good looking, intelligent, nice, and had a good job. He also wasn't the most powerful wizard of his generation, unlike someone else I could mention but didn't want to think about. Blinders, remember, I warned myself.

Then Gemma let out a gasp of awe mixed with longing. "Katie, look at these. You have to look at these."

I lifted my eyes from the carpet to see Gemma holding a red shoe. Not just any red shoe, but a high-heeled stiletto pump that looked like it was made out of candy apple coating, all rich, shiny, red, and good enough to eat. "Nice," I admitted.

"Nice? Nice? That's all you can say? These are amazing. These are shoes that say, 'Worship me.' You have to get these."

"Do I really want men to worship me?"

She gave me another one of those pitying looks. "Why wouldn't you?"

"Because I'm not the kind of girl men worship. And I'd prefer a more equal relationship."

"Wear these shoes, and you get the worship. And then you can have the relationship on any terms you want—equal or otherwise."

"But I don't have anything to go with them," I said, changing tactics.

She gave me a "what will I ever do with you?" sigh. "You don't find clothes that 'go with' shoes like these. These shoes aren't just accessories. They're an outfit that you accessorize with a simple black or gray dress. This is what you should wear on your date."

"I can't afford to buy shoes that don't go with almost everything I already own."

She flipped over the shoe she held and checked the price tag. "These are only two hundred dollars. That's half the price of a pair of Manolos. They're a bargain."

"They look like I could click my heels three times and get back home to Kansas."

"Oh, no, honey," she said, shaking her head. "These are the shoes that get you out of Kansas. Go on, at least try them on."

"You're the one who likes them so much. You get them."

"They'd make me look like the Jolly Green Giant. I'd tower over Philip." Philip was her boyfriend, and the fact that she'd given up towering heels for him was a sure sign of true love. Philip also used to be a frog, but she didn't know that. It's a long story. Suffice it to say, there was more than a hint of weirdness to my life. "But Ethan's really tall, and you're not all that tall, so you could totally wear these."

I could probably even wear them and still be shorter than a certain someone who wasn't quite as tall as Ethan, but I'd promised myself I wasn't going to think about him all weekend. "Gemma, I don't think so. Not yet. This is only a second date. I don't want to look like I'm trying too hard, and those shoes scream 'pulling out all the stops.' I don't want to give him that impression."

"So we're playing it cool?"

"Yeah, playing it cool. A strategy taught to me by a certain person named Gemma."

With a deep sigh, she replaced the shoe on its display. I grabbed her arm to drag her to the escalators so we could look at clothes I could actually afford, but when I turned around, I saw something that made me do a double take: two women with wings looking at shoes in the adjacent boutique.

For most people, the wings would be the cause of the double take. That's not something you see every day. But the fairies caught my eye because I knew them, and they didn't strike me as the kind of people who shopped at Bloomingdale's. I had them pegged as the type who wouldn't think of buying anything north of Fourteenth Street.

I was trying to think of a way to get Gemma to another department, fast, when one of the fairies said, "Katie! What are you doing here?"

"I was about to ask you the same question," I said, trying to keep my voice light and casual even as I glared at them. I was pretty sure Gemma couldn't see that there was anything odd about them—other than that they were so obviously downtown girls who probably wouldn't wear most of what was in that store—but I still wasn't comfortable mingling my work life and my personal life.

I work for a company called Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc.—it's kind of like a Microsoft for magic users, only not as into world domination. I'm not actually magical myself, but I have this strange immunity to magic and illusion, which in the magical world counts as sort of a superpower. I hadn't yet shared this information with my nonmagical friends, who thought I was just another administrative assistant at a boring corporation.

"We're out shopping," said the taller fairy, whose name was Ari.

"Same here," I said.

"Oh yeah, tonight's the big date," said the smaller fairy, whose name was Trix. "Getting something special to wear?"

"I'm trying to, without much luck."

"Friends of yours?" Gemma asked.

Remembering my manners, I made introductions. "Gemma, this is Ari and Trix. We work together. And this is Gemma, my roommate and fashion consultant," I said, watching Gemma's reaction to the fairies. I wouldn't have put it past Ari's twisted sense of humor to let her magical veil drop so everyone could see her wings, just so I'd have to scramble for an explanation to Gemma.

Fortunately, Gemma didn't seem to think anything was weird. "Nice to meet you," she said. "Maybe you can offer a second opinion. Don't you think Katie should at least try on these shoes?" She headed back toward the shoe boutique, and Ari and Trix followed.

"Katie can't afford these shoes," I said as I brought up the rear of the procession, irked at Gemma trying to get around my objections even as I was relieved that she hadn't questioned why I was talking to people with wings.

"Oh, fabulous," Trix breathed when Gemma held the sample shoe up for all to admire.

"Not your usual style," Ari said while staring hungrily at the shoes. "But there's nothing wrong with giving your image a little shake-up."

"See?" Gemma gloated. "Just try them on."

The three of them were practically drooling. Yeah, it was an eye-catching shoe, but I couldn't imagine it changing my life. I mentally added this to the list of popular things I just didn't get, along with George Clooney, designer-logo handbags, and reality television. As I watched them discussing the merits of the red shoes, I wondered once more what Ari and Trix were doing there. I had a very strong feeling they were following me. I shouldn't have been surprised; it was barely a week since I'd played a crucial role in giving the competition a major setback, so I probably needed a magical bodyguard or two. But I'd prefer it if I didn't have to face them when I was with a nonmagical friend. I could cope with fairies, people making coffee by flicking their wrists, and talking gargoyles at the office, but it still gave me a jolt when I saw those things in the "real" world when I was with people who weren't in on the secret.

"Come on, Katie," Ari urged. I felt like I was being recruited by the Cult of the Red Shoes.

"No, not this time," I insisted. "I need clothing, and I need to buy it soon so I'll have time to get ready. Gemma, we'd better get down to moderate dresses." She sighed and put the sample shoe down. "I'll see you two on Monday," I added very pointedly to Trix and Ari as I began walking toward the escalators, with or without my roommate.

"They seemed like fun," Gemma said when she caught up with me. "I can't believe you haven't talked more about your coworkers. You only talk about that one cute guy. Whatever happened with him, anyway?"

"Nothing. He's just a friend. Besides, with the gossip mill in that place, dating a coworker would be suicide." Ethan fell in the gray area between coworker and non-coworker, since he was contracting his services to MSI and didn't have an office in the building. Also, I hadn't yet told my roommates that he was working for the same company, since I'd met him through them and explaining why he'd ended up working with me would have been more than complicated. To change the subject, I said, "So, what look should I go for—casual, sexy, trendy, sophisticated?"

With the opportunity to dress me, Gemma quickly forgot about discussing my coworkers. She picked out a simple black dress with an embroidered cardigan that fell within my budget. But she hadn't had the last word. "Those red shoes would go with this outfit," she said as we left the cash register.

"I swear, what is it with you and those shoes? You'd think they had you mesmerized. I've spent enough on this outfit as it is, and the black shoes I already own will do fine. Now home!"

Several hours later, I was dressed in my new outfit, my hair and makeup were done, and my roommates were getting on my nerves. "You don't have to wait around, you know," I told them. "You've already met Ethan, and I don't need anyone to help pin on my corsage and take our picture together."

"I wonder if there's any film in my camera," Gemma mused.

"No! Geeze, you act like me going on a date is a once-in-a-lifetime event."

"With you, it almost is," Marcia, my other roommate, said from her position on the couch.

"I've been on dates recently," I protested.

"Yeah, but this is the first time I can remember in a very long time that you've been on a second date with the same guy," Marcia replied.

She was right. After I went out with a guy once, he seldom wanted to see me again. Most of the time, it was because I was too normal, too boring, too girl-next-door, too much like a sister. That had changed lately, though. Now they were more likely to think I was too weird, and they'd be right. Take my last blind date, where a strange man appeared in the restaurant and serenaded me during dinner while claiming that I'd saved him from a lifetime as a frog. Really, all I'd done was rescue him from an illusion that made him think he was a frog. When he wasn't stalking me, he was an okay guy, and now he was dating Marcia. Gemma's boyfriend, Philip, was the one who really used to be a frog, but I had nothing to do with disenchanting him. I was only there when it happened.

Most of that crazy stuff wasn't my fault at all, since I can't actually do magic, but my job means I'm around a lot of weird things that I can't explain to normal people without them thinking I need to be medicated. It was tough living a double life where I couldn't talk to my closest friends about the things I saw or what happened at the office. It was kind of like being a spy, I guess, only a lot less glamorous.

Then there was Ethan. On our last date I'd discovered his magical immunity, then a couple of guys from work had shown up to test him by making increasingly outlandish stuff happen in the middle of the restaurant until he was forced to admit that he was seeing things, and that had dragged him into my crazy world when MSI recruited him. He'd asked me out again, anyway, even after he'd been involved in an all-out magical battle. It was the first step toward having a real boyfriend. But that would be more likely if he didn't have to run the roommate gauntlet when he came to pick me up.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 68 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 68 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2014

    Great follow up book

    Story is good. Humor is good. Very fun read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2014

    I love the Katie and Owen series.  Nice stories with a bit of a

    I love the Katie and Owen series.  Nice stories with a bit of a romance but nothing you'd be afraid to have the kids pick up and look at.  Nice, light, and fun.  I love them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Once Upon Stilettos

    This book was all that I hoped it to be as the sequal to Enchanted Inc! It furthers Katie's adventures at MSI. It also continues with the Phelan Idris threat to magic users everywhere and MSI's mission to stop him. Can't wait to read the next two books and am hoping for a 5th.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2015

    I've enjoyed all of the books in this series, and this one did n

    I've enjoyed all of the books in this series, and this one did not disappoint.  This series has had me cracking up and bummed that it ended.  Okay for teens too.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 27, 2015

    Great series by Shanna Swendson!

    Ms. Swendson does a great job of putting a twist on magic with her main character, Katie Chandler. I found this series, the first book being Enchanted, Inc. while looking at under $5 reads. I was hesitant since I had not seen these books before since they were written several years ago, however they are great reads for someone looking for magic, a little bit of clean romance, and a good, strong female protagonist. I love the different characters, the bad guy having some pretty obvious flaws, and the budding romance between Katie and the nerdy good-looking magician.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2015

    Fun read

    So far, I love this series; the second book is proving to be as good as the first. Readers maybe at a slight disadvantage if they do not read the series in order. The author really sticks to the story-line, and she references the first book on her second.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2014

    Great 2nd book

    I love this series! This book picks up literally where the first one left off. It is so good! I can't wait to read the 3rd one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2013

    Great read

    I love these books.

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  • Posted June 25, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Well, 3.5 stars. An enjoyable read with heroine as quirky and e

    Well, 3.5 stars. An enjoyable read with heroine as quirky and engaging as in first book. Synopsis on this site accurate so not repeating. Amusing moments that flowed with plot (versus unrelenting humor or prats and jokes shoehorned in to hit reader over the head with fact that this is supposed to be funny). I detracted half a star versus first book in series because not quite as plausible, tried to take the magic folk and force them into mundane molds once too often, and one of the plot/romance devices was the trope where if she had only spoken up ... but, still a story that was a page turner for me and I will be reading on in the series.

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  • Posted July 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer


    I enjoyed this book sitting by the pool in a heat wave. I think this is what is referred to as chic lit.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Another fun read

    Delightful book to read at the beach (or on the plane); definitely continuing the Harry Potter meets Sex in the City style.

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  • Posted July 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Great Jem in the Rough

    I found the first book in this series while shelving at a Barnes and Noble and couldn't wait to read the rest! This book keeps you interested right from the start and doesn't let you down. it's an easy read that keeps you wanting more.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I Absolutely Loved It!

    The second installment in this series is great! This a great plot that includes a parental visit and twists and turns in magic effectiveness. The best part was Katie finally getting together with Owen. I highly reccommend for bookclubs, beach, rainy day, or any travel situation. I could not simply put it down.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Somewhat enchanting

    This is the second book of the Enchanted,Inc. series. I love the premise of this story and all of the characters. Katie Chandler is a smart and simple sort of girl who is desperately in love with her co-worker Owen. After all of their adventures that take place in the first book, I was a little disappointed their relationship is still dragging. It's a cute story in a fairy tale kinda way, but I needed a little more actual romance. This book is however a necessary read for the next book; Don't Hex with Texas.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Series!

    This series is fun and engaging! I wish that there were more than just the four books! I highly recommend this series.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2007

    Page Turner

    This book is an absolute page turner! The whole series is great.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2006

    A fun and witty read.

    Katie Chandler is an executive assistant at Magic, Spells, & Illusions, Inc. 'MSI' in Manhattan. Even though she is mortal, she works for some very important beings, such as Merlin the Magician. Merlin is the CEO of the company. Katie is one of the few people that magic cannot work on. She is an Immune. Now that she has worked with the company for awhile, she has seen all sorts of magical creatures and almost nothing bothers her anymore. Merlin has Katie read over contracts before he signs, just in case the contract has an enchantment on it to cloak some sections. Being an Immune, Katie can see the real words and let her boss know if a scam is being pulled. .................. Recently someone has broken into Owen's office and disrupted some very top secret files. Katie is assigned the task of finding out who the company spy is. This gives her a great reason to be around Owen. However, considering that Owen does not seem to be as interested in Katie as she is in him, it can be frustrating at times. In addition, Katie's parents are coming to town for a week. Katie must keep them from finding out what MSI really does and keep them entertained so they won't try to make her leave New York with them. NOT so easy since Katie's mother seems to be Immune too. How will Katie convince her mother that she is not really seeing fairies, gnomes, and gargoyles? ................. Katie soon discovers that her immunity to magic is waning! The spy has magical beings attacking Katie and she can no longer see what is coming. Even with backup, Katie may not live to see Christmas. ................. **** The first book 'Enchanted, Inc.' set up the whole magical and human environment. This book continues where it left off. If you have not read the first book, you will not find yourself lost in this story. However, if you read this one and expect to read the previous book at a later date, you may find yourself disappointed with the first. Author Shanna Swendson has done a terrific job combining fantasy and modern contemporary, and a touch of humor. I found myself giggling like a small child at parts, even as I tried to figure out who the spy within the company was. A fun and witty read! ****

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A terrific tale

    Magic immune Katie Chandler has become an executive assistant to Merlin at MSU (not Michigan State, but Magic, Spells and Illusions, Inc) where her skills at exposing magical misuse are highly regarded. Everything is great for the Texas mortal especially observing and guarding the wizard Owen.------------ However, suddenly Owen is upset because someone broke into the highly classified top secret files as only an insider could have. Katie is upset too, not so much because Owen is, but because her immune talent is starting to fail her as if someone has found a charm to dispel her skill. Buying a pair of killer truth seeking red stilettos to help her ease through her fears, Katie and Owen team up to uncover who inside their ENCHANTED INC firm turned traitor and to stop that soul before harm occurs.--------------- The sequel to the magical Enchanted Inc is a terrific tale starring the once immune magic Katie and her wizard Owen investigating who inside the firm is causing havoc and mayhem. The enchanting story line focuses on their inquiries which in turn lead to more hocus pocus and romance. After enjoying Once Upon Stilettos, chick lit romantic fantasy fans will stay tuned to the Shanna Swendson channel for the next adventure of Katie and Owen.-------------------- Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2015

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 68 Customer Reviews

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