Title: Bits of Magic
Author Name: Angela Benedetti
Publication Date: May 6, 2015
There’s magic in the world, and its hiding in plain sight. Your friends, your neighbors, the guy who runs your favorite restaurant — any of them could be more than they seem. A man trick-or-treating with his son finds the courage to go after what he wants when he confiscates and eats some unwrapped candy. A park ranger who’s afraid of outing himself in public is reminded that his lover will — and can — protect him, no matter what. An apprentice mage learns that his master never forgets when he has a lesson to finish, and will always come for him when he gets himself lost in magic. And a boy from a mage-gifted family learns that life isn’t over just because the gift has passed him by. Return to the world of Hidden Magic.
I was hooked from the first page of this delicious collection of short stories. These tales are playful, loving, erotic, and magical, and it was a treat to read them.
The running theme I picked up on was learning self-confidence. In the first two stories, Chasing Fear and Catching Courage, Emilio has to overcome his fear about being openly affectionate with his lover, Martín, and trusting Martín to keep him safe. I loved the tenderness between the two men and the sweetness of the ending.
The second pair of stories, Reach Out and Touch and Unfinished Business, are about apprentice mage Cal and his master/lover Aubrey. These were my favorite in the anthology. Cal and Aubrey are sexy and fun, and I would love to read more about them and their world.
The fifth story, Candy Courage, is more like magical realism than outright fantasy. As a fan of that genre, I really enjoyed reading about Glenn’s adventures in overcoming his shy awkwardness to seduce Neal.
Finally, Birthdays Suck is about Paul being a non-magical person in a family of mages but coming into his own. It’s a sweet young adult story that reminded me of Diana Wynn Jones (who had a knack for writing magic-less kids surrounded by magic). I would love to read more about Paul.
A wonderful collection of stories, and I’m looking forward to reading more by Ms. Benedetti.
Sebastiano Fiorentelli studied the calendar — a freebie from the Humane Society with photos of puppies and kittens on it — on the wall of his cluttered basement laboratory and observed that it was the thirtieth day of October. Since emigrating to the United States and discovering the Halloween custom of sending children around to beg for treats, he’d made a habit of including something extra in the candy he made for the occasion each year. By the Nineteen-seventies, when hysteria over poison and razor blades swept the population, Mr. Fiorentelli had been living in his San Jose neighborhood long enough that no one fussed about letting their children eat his wax-paper-wrapped candies.
He paced back and forth in front of open cabinets and crowded shelves, pondering what to make this year, until finally he stopped and nodded.
“Courage,” he said. “This year, I think I’ll make courage…”
Angela Benedetti lives in Seattle with her husband, five computers, and thousands of books. She started writing as a teenager, and discovered soon after that romances with two hot guys are twice as good as romances with only one. When she’s not at the computer, she enjoys cooking and baking, going to science fiction conventions, and cruising with her husband. She’s one of the few people in the universe who loses weight on cruises. (Must be all those walking-around shore tours and the lack of free internet access.) Her favorite mainstream fiction genres are science fiction and fantasy, both of which tend to seep into her own writing; the Hidden Magic series is a fun blend of romance and fantasy.