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WesternSFA
Tempt the Stars
by Karen Chance
Signet, $7.99, 418pp
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Karen Chance writes fast-paced, zany urban fantasy, the literary equivalent of screwball and slapstick comedies.

This is the sixth book to be narrated by protagonist Cassandra Palmer, but Chance does a good job of presenting this story on it’s own legs; if this is your first outing with Cassie, you’ll get along fine. The worst that will happen is you will read catch-up exposition that takes the surprise out of earlier books in the series.

Each story in the series has its own revelation, each sequel adding its own, at the same time contributing tidbits of insight and information to the Big Mystery of just what one particularly enigmatic vampire is up to. Mircea has been grooming Cassie for the position of Pythia, the woman who sees and speaks divine truths to humans and fey, since Cassie was a child, and now she thinks she understands why; but is there more to Mircea’s long view then backing a dark horse with an especially strong pedigree?

Now that Cassie IS the Pythia, she doesn’t have to worry so much about attempts to eliminate her from a contest she’s won, but she still has to be on her toes, and on her guard, because there’s a war on for control of our world. The capricious gods who were banished from this reality by the sacrifice of one renegade goddess are trying to muscle their way back, aided by the mortals and fey who serve them. Cassie’s side is trying to maintain the boundary that keeps them out.

Cassie is luckiest when she thinks she having bad luck, as when she gets stuck between rooms on a blind teleport, and winds up in a position to overhear an important conversation between Mircea and the Faerie Queen’s pet agent, Kit Marlowe, (yes, the Elizabethan spy who wrote Dr. Faustus). Cassie’s too busy trying to extricate herself from the bricks to process the significance of their argument, but readers who are not having their organs of respiration compromised can savor the moment.

Cassie is smartest when she realizes she has to draw lines and exert her authority as Pythia, or she’ll be overrun by the people and creatures who want to use her abilities. She is funniest when she is hungry, put-upon, and seriously in need of caffeine. She is most human, and most lovable, when she decides to break the arbitrary rules that have replaced thinking, or feeling, or heeding your intuition. Because that is what a Pythia does: she connects herself to the source of reality and wisdom, and reconnects others to that same source, if they listen. ~~ Chris R. Paige

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