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Once Upon Stilettos: A Novel by Shanna Swendson
Review by Beth Slater
Ballantine Books Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0345481275
Date: 25 April, 2006 List Price $13.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK /

Katie Chandler returns to readers in time for the holiday season in New York City, showing us a new perspective on its weird and unusual inhabitants – a magical perspective. Katie discovered, in Enchanted, Inc, that she is a magical immune. She sees fairies, gargoyles, and gnomes where other people see nothing unusual at all. But when her parents decide to come visit her for Thanksgiving, Katie's misgivings distract her from her heavy workload at MSI, Inc (Magic, Spells, & Illusions), where her boss, Merlin, has charged her with ferreting out the spy within their midst. Unfortunately for Katie, her immunity to magic seems to fading, and she's having difficulty hiding it from her co-workers while she endeavors to find the traitor in their midst.

All Katie wants is a normal relationship. Most men, however, can't handle the weird happenings that seem to follow Katie around the city. Katie finally manages to snag more than a first date with a lawyer she works with, but her heart seems to want to be with someone else – Owen Palmer. Owen is a wizard where she works, but he treats her like a sister. So while Katie searches for the source of the rumors and discord at work, she is juggling a new relationship and the family visit, as well as the holidays in the city. Katie also discovers that she has inherited her immune status from her mother, which has made explaining the bizarre much more difficult without telling them about magic. But when Katie's mother starts seeing things that Katie doesn't, she wonders if she's lost her immunity, which, in turn, might mean the loss of her job, which has come to mean more to her than she realized.

Swendson's first story featuring Katie Chandler came as a pleasant surprise, and her sequel was not disappointing. Katie is one of the most pragmatic characters in an enchanting story I've ever read. There is mystery involved in her story – who is the spy, and why are they after Katie? But there is also romance, humor, and magic interlaced into the plot, so I would have trouble trying to limit this to one genre.

I thoroughly enjoyed this installment in Katie's ongoing drama of life, love, and the pursuit of normalcy, and I look forward to the next, which is Damsel Under Stress, due out in May 2007.

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