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    Review of ONCE UPON STILETTOS by Shanna Swendson

    Ballantine Books, April 2006

    After saving the world (in ENCHANTED INC. the earlier novel in this series), Katie Chandler decides to get down to serious business--dating. She's given up on uber-wizard Owen, who clearly only sees her as a friend and is willing to settle for second best. Fortunately, there is no lack of candidates, starting with handsome Ethan. Ethan has the advantage of being a non-magical, like Katie. She can actually imagine a normal life with him. With the help of her girlfriends, and the perfect shoes, Katie sets the scene for seduction.

    If her dating life looks to be heading in the right direction for a change, Katie's work life is not. Evil wizard Idris is still working his nasty plans--and seems intent on creating havoc at MSI (Magic, Spells, Incorporated) where Katie (and hunky Owen) work. When it becomes clear that someone within the company is cooperating, Katie's boss, Merlin (the original Merlin, brought back from sleep but still not quite in tune with the 21st century) assigns Katie the job of tracking him or her down. That would be a tough enough task under the best of circumstances, but Katie also abruptly loses her magical immunity--the defense that has saved both herself and Owen so many times in the past. Without her immunity, Katie is susceptable to spells and magic, and in danger of losing her job.

    For Katie, the only good news is that, abruptly, she seems irresistable to men. When she's out with her girlfriends, the men are lining up to buy her drinks, to dance with her, to propose happily-ever-afters with her. Katie knows she isn't bad, but her girlfriends include genuine fairies (the kind with wings). Maybe it's the sense of confidence that her new red stilettos (shoes, not daggers) give her. Or maybe it's something else entirely.

    Author SHANNA SWENDSON continues the story she began in ENCHANTED, INC. Maybe the future of the world isn't at stake in STILETTOS, but Katie's dating life is certainly important. Swendson's light 'chick-lit' touch and the double-fish-out-of-water aspect (with Katie being both a small-town Texas girl in New York and a non-magical in a world of magic) add charm and interest to the story. MSI's 'team-building' efforts, and Merlin's addiction to modern business fad books will create a chuckle or two for anyone who's come into contact with American business executives. Katie's little problems with telling the truth (accompanied by appropriate guilt in the case of MSI) creates a sense of anticipation as the reader knows that consequences will come and, to coin a phrase that might be apt to the story, another shoe has to fall.

    Fans of ENCHANTED INC. have been waiting to find out how Katie makes out (literally and figuratively) with Ethan and Owen. They'll definitely want to grab this one. If you haven't read ENCHANTED INC. yet, ONCE UPON STILETTOS can be read independently, but your reading enjoyment will definitely be enhanced by reading ENCHANTED first.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 6/16/06

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