One of my most favorite things is when I find a book on sale (or free!) by a new-to-me author that is fantastic. Odd Stuff by Virginia Nelson is one of those awesome finds. I can’t even remember where I found the link, but I do know that I am reading the rest of this series! A fun, light-hearted paranormal romance, I was laughing out loud through much of the book.
Janie Smith always pretended to be normal. When her witch bestie gets tangled in a murder investigation, she finds it hard to stick to the mundane and save the day. Janie snarks her way through the paranormal world, fumbling again and again, determined not to give into temptation… But when your closest pal is suspected to have murdered a vampire, how do you prove she didn’t kill someone who has no pulse?
So the blurb doesn’t give away much, but it does hit the high points. Janie is pretending. She’s pretending to be normal. She’s pretending to be okay with her recent divorce. She’s pretending that she’s a confident parent. When Janie decides to start fresh and move with her daughter back to her hometown, things get dicey. First of all, Janie is supposed to be staying with her high school best friend, Mia, but Mia is M-I-A when Janie shows up. Hilarity ensues from there.
Janie is such a fantastic character. We know that she’s hiding some big secret, and that part of the secret involves her dressing in a very unflattering way as a disguise. She constantly references her overbearing mother but without much detail (we do get to meet her mother and discover that Janie isn’t exaggerating). Obviously, family is a sore point for Janie. Also, Janie is the mother to an incredibly perceptive and, by all accounts, normal daughter. I really connected with her struggles as a single parent. The realistic frustrations in the midst of all of the crazy made Janie relatable and likeable. I want to be her friend…just no karaoke.
Because the book begins with Janie moving to Mia’s house with no Mia, Mia’s friends become part of Janie’s inner circle (we find that she didn’t have much of a life before). Vance the vampire is Janie’s love interest. This quintessential, older-than-dirt, super-rich vampire is highly amused by Janie’s attempt at indifference to their attraction. His mind reading helps him understand a little more about Janie, but she still manages to protect her secrets. The rapport between Janie and Vance was always humorous, even when it turned sexy (i.e. skylight). Mia’s store helper, Sven, is a huge, flamboyant ogre with a lot of style and a lot of heart. He’s also a great supporting character. Sven helps Janie run Mia’s store while Mia is on the run. Sven is also great with Janie’s daughter. He babysits while Janie runs around town and, amazingly, solves the mystery piece by piece.
All in all, Odd Stuff is a highly entertaining and humorously light-hearted read. It very nicely filled a void in my current reading schedule while adding yet another new-to-me author to my TBR list. Janie reminded me a bit of a Stephanie Plum-type character in a paranormal world. She stumbles into all of the information, but it’s in such an enjoyable way that I don’t mind the implausibility (I mean, we are working with vampires and ogres here). A really fun world with characters that I want to meet for coffee, Odd Stuff left me with tears in my eyes from the laughs and several new fictional friends.