Enter Rand Balfour, a sinfully attractive warlock who insists she's a witch and who just might turn her life upside down. Rand hires her to help him solve a mystery regarding the death of his client who also happens to be a ghost. Jolie not only uncovers the cause of the ghost's demise but, in the process, she brings him back to life!
Word of Jolie's incredible ability to bring back the dead spreads like wildfire, putting her at the top of the Underworld's most wanted list. Consequently, she finds herself at the center of a custody battle between a villainous witch, a dangerous but oh-so-sexy vampire, and her warlock boss, Rand."
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble is the first book in the Jolie Wilkins series. I read HP's other book, To Kill a Warlock [review], a little while back and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to this one as well. It's got similar elements to Warlock, with a humor apparent from the start and a loosely formed love triangle. But otherwise they're really different. Jolie doesn't realise there is a paranormal world out there, despite being a little psychic. Rand, a warlock, opens her eyes to it and in the process brings her powers to the front making her the most wanted witch in the world. She's forced to leave behind her job and move to England with Rand in order to try and avoid the witch intent on owning her.
There is a serious side to this story, but at heart it's a humorous, light, fantasy verging on paranormal romance. I know I've said this before, but I'm not always a fan of lighter fantasy. I like dark angst, but like To Kill a Warlock, this was a lighter fantasy that I did enjoy. I found I couldn't always take the characters seriously, they were a bit too flaky and daft a couple of times, but I was still able to connect with the story.
I liked the plot, and the pacing, it moved along quickly with some really good twists. And some great laughs. I wanted to smack Rand a few times, and Jolie occasionally as well, but I still liked them and found them really growing on me by the end. One thing that annoyed me a little though is how Jolie doesn't think she's all that special or beautiful, that her best friend is the hot one, but how almost every guy is introduced as a potential love interest. I also thought the 'final showdown' came a little out of nowhere, rather than from the build up throughout the book which left the ending a little less than satisfying for me.
Overall it's still a good read despite my misgivings with parts of it. It's quickly paced, funny and it's got decent characters, even though they don't show their real depth til later in the book. I'm looking forward to book two though (Toil and Trouble, out Jan 1st 2011) as I think there is still a lot of unexplored potential in this book. I also think those who enjoy the lighter side to fantasy more than me will enjoy this a lot more than I did. And I still enjoyed it.