Pros: Fun, fun, and more fun!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Bella Bullucci is a high-class fashion designer living in Bigtime, a city plagued with both superheroes and ubervillains. And she doesn’t like it—not one bit. It’s bad enough that the men in her family have had a propensity for dressing up as Johnny Angel and going out to do good deeds without any powers to keep them safe. It’s even worse that her brother Johnny is marrying a fire-wielding superhero with horrid taste in clothing. But worst of all? She isn’t exactly normal herself. And her ‘superpower,’ luck, is just as apt to send her salad winging across the kitchen as it is to save her from a falling spotlight. She keeps two of every appliance in the kitchen for when she breaks one or blows one up. And when she feels that familiar static charge building up, she backs away from anything breakable. As if that weren’t enough, nothing, but nothing, can tame her snarled-up hair when her power gets going!
So why on earth would Debonair, an art thief, teleporting hero (or is that villain?), and notorious playboy, have an interest in her? Is it because she’s in charge of the museum’s annual fundraiser, at which all the wealthiest families will be displaying their most expensive private possessions? Or might he have some other work of art on his mind? Bella will have to figure that out, quick, when the centerpiece of her exhibit becomes the target of an unknown ubervillain—as does she.
Jennifer Estep’s Jinx is the third book in a series, after Karma Girl and Hot Mama. I haven’t read the previous two, but I’ve definitely put them on my wish list after reading this one! While it certainly would have helped to have the background, I didn’t find it necessary. You should be able to pick up this book and go with it if you so desire. And yes, it’s definitely worth picking up!
Jinx is laugh-out-loud funny, romantic, poignant, sexy, and just plain fun—all at once. It uses and abuses pretty much every superhero trope in existence; for instance, it seems like every other notable citizen of Bigtime has matching initials (Bella Bulluci, Fiona Fine, Abby Appleby, Hannah Harmon…). Similarly, a pair of glasses or a mask can be surprisingly effective at hiding a hero or villain’s identity, and the author playfully keeps the characters’ identities a sort of winking non-secret from the reader, just as in any good comic book. I’m terribly glad she took that approach rather than attempting to truly surprise the reader, since that’s just as likely to backfire, and doesn’t fit into the genre nearly as well.
I loved the relationship between Bella and Debonair. At first I thought it was going to fit along a certain romance cliche of the ‘right woman’ suddenly reforming the formerly unrepentant playboy, but I was much relieved and delighted to see it follow a much different and more enjoyable track. Bella gives a wonderful perspective on the superhero/ubervillain genre as someone who hates the whole thing and would give anything to be rid of the ‘curse’ of her power, and who is a control freak in the rest of her life in an attempt to compensate. One of my favorite scenes in the entire book is a simple drive home on Bella’s part, as she notes all the wackiness going on around her (a wide variety of hero/villain battles that she does her best to ignore) and does her best just to get home without getting involved. In particular, her uptight personality combines beautifully with her out-of-control power to induce fits of giggles at every turn:
Things like this were routine in my life, along with odd items like air conditioners falling from the sky and almost hitting me in the head. I didn’t even flinch anymore when that happened. I just kept walking.
It’s the kind of book that could easily be overly cutesy, or that could allow the humor to interfere with the romance or the plot. But it doesn’t. It’s very well-balanced, and despite the presence of all the superheroes it even manages sufficient pacing and tension to keep you glued to the pages. It’s a delightfully fun read, and I look forward to more from Ms. Estep!