Title: Impractical Magic
Author: MJ O’ Shea
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5/5 Smooches
Sequel to Newton's Laws of Attraction
Physics teacher Fenton Keene is looking forward to a summer of doing nothing but hanging out with friends and maybe getting into a little trouble. With his best friend out of town, trouble seems like the best option and it comes in the form of his building's newest temporary resident, a gorgeous fireman named Kevin.
Fen's been attracted to men before, but this is the first time he's considered acting on it. And act he does.
Fen and Kevin have an intense summer fling. Just in time for Kevin to go home, more feelings develop than Fen can ignore, but they don't stop Kevin from leaving. Once Kevin's gone, Fen can't stop thinking about him. That's when reality sets in and Fen faces the difficulties of distance and fidelity, while Kevin balks at Fen's reluctance to tell his friends and family. They just need to find a way to make their magic more practical.
Summer vacation has arrived, and Fenton Keene, surprisingly, is bored. As a teacher, Fenton always looks forward to his break from grading papers, but this year is different because Fenton’s best friend Ben is on a year-long sabbatical in another city, and Fenton is a bit lost and lonesome. To make matters worse, Ben is not eager to come home and visit because of the tension between him and his former lover Rory.
It had been weird since Ben left, two whole weeks of weird since the last day of the school year and that sad, awkward good-bye dinner they’d thrown him with the other teachers. Weird, yes, and empty and boring and not to Fen’s liking one little bit. Sure, Ben had always had his own place, and Fen had lived alone since he’d moved out to California from Michigan, but they’d spent so much time together in previous summers that they might as well have been roommates. The quiet in Fen’s apartment was deafening.
Impractical Magic is the sequel to Newton's Laws of Attraction. In Newton's Laws of Attraction, readers meet Ben, Fenton, Rory and Jeremey, teachers at a local high school. Rory is new to this close-knit group of teachers, but not to Ben and not to the high school that he and Ben attended, and now in which they teach. Rory and Ben were high school sweethearts … closeted high school sweethearts. As readers discover in Newton’s Laws of Attraction, their relationship ended badly. Although the first book does have a happy ending, Impractical Magic backtracks a little.
To get the full effect of this story, readers do need to read Newton’s Laws of Attraction first. However, Impractical Magic is a wonderful book on its own. It is an engaging and enchanting story written in true M.J. O’Shea fashion with a whole lot of tension, a pinch of angst, a bit of humor and, of course, some heat.
O’Shea does a great job showing the drama between Ben and Rory from another character’s, Fenton, perspective without rehashing the first story. Readers get a different view of Rory in this book as Rory confides in Fenton and Jeremy over the course of the summer.
Fenton’s feelings about the relationship between Ben and Rory are influenced by Fenton’s confusion about his own inner turmoil, especially after he meets Kevin. Fenton has always known he is attracted to men, but he has never acted on it. That is why his friends assume Fenton is seeing a woman when he starts to act distracted.
Fen tried to decide what was wrong with him. Yeah, he missed Ben. He did. But they hadn’t become friends until he was twenty-five. He’d have thought he could survive a few weeks without his bestie without feeling like he was lost at sea. It had to be something else, some different force brewing its weird tea in his blood, making him all antsy and not right in his skin. He decided to drive down to 24
Hour Fitness and go for a run in the pleasantly air-conditioned gym instead of sweltering in the still, hot evening. It probably wouldn’t help much with the weird feeling, but at least it would work off the beer and chips he’d eaten with the boys earlier—and maybe a bit of his pent-up energy too.
Fen is out of sorts and not sure what is causing it. Then he meets Kevin, who literally drops into his space, and as Fen notes, “Dammmmnnnn.” Fenton and Kevin are both timid at the start of the relationship, which is charming and unexpected.
Earlier shivers be damned. His whole body melted when Fen finally got a good long look at this not-so-mysterious new guy. Yeah. Damn was pretty much the only word his brain had room for. Tall, at least compared to Fen, with dark brown hair that curled up at the ends, big brown eyes, gorgeous smile, golden tanned skin, and his body… fuck. He looked young, probably not much out of the
jailbait range, but Fen had to stop himself from drooling visibly. He was already drooling like a damn St. Bernard inside.
See, The thing was, Fen wasn’t exactly straight. Exactly.
Kevin, a firefighter, is visiting for the summer. He tells Fenton that he will be heading back to LA in September. He is working for his uncle at the local fire department. He and Fen seem to have an instant connection when they first meet at the beach. When they next cross paths, in the grocery store, it seems to be a match made in heaven since Fen loves to cook, and Kevin lives on takeout food.
He wandered over to the fruits and vegetables. They were pretty, all happy and ripe and summer fresh. He didn’t want to get too many since there’d be a farmer’s market in a few days with better local produce. He just wanted to grab a few things to tide him over. Fen hummed to himself as he picked a couple of bell peppers and some cucumbers for salad.
Fen was about to bag some grapes when he felt it. Him, rather. He felt Kevin. Fen looked up and wouldn’t you know, there he was. His new neighbor, the one who made Fen’s whole body just react, like all the hairs on his back stood on end and his already fluttery belly jumped and twisted.
How does he do that?
When he looked at Kevin objectively, there was nothing magical about him. Really. He was a pretty guy with nice muscles, an adorable smile, pretty eyes and… okay. He was hot. And nice. And maybe a little magical with that shiver thing, ’cause who else could do that? Fen surreptitiously watched as Kevin put a few apples in his basket, followed by a banana. Then he wandered over to look blankly at the lettuce options. He stood there looking confused and a bit helpless. Hot and adorably clueless. Fen smiled to himself. There was no harm in saying hello, right?
“Hey there,” Fen said.
Of course he was looking right at Kevin and not at the corner of the fruit section, where a big pyramid of oranges was piled—oranges he ran right into. They went toppling off the display with alarming speed, one after the other in a blur of brightly colored humiliation, before bouncing and rolling across the floor in every direction possible.
All is not smooth in their encounters, and O’Shea does a great job infusing humor into many of the scenes. Of course, Fenton doesn’t want his friends involved in this new relationship, so he keeps it quiet. The angst between Rory and Ben helps keep his friends distracted, just enough to take the heat off the far away looks Fenton gets every time Kevin sends him a text. The first kiss between Kevin and Fenton takes a little while to happen, and when it does it is sweet. “It wasn’t a big deal at all, but it so was.”
Kevin reached out and cupped his hand around the back of Fen’s neck. He pulled him in, gently but firmly, nudged Fen’s face to the side with his nose. And then Kevin kissed him. Yeah, he kissed him. Warm lips, light and soft, and kind of perfect. It wasn’t a big deal at all, but it so was. Fen had worked it up so much in his head—could he? Would he? But when it came down to it, it wasn’t something foreign, it was kissing. Hot, amazingly good kissing, hot and close and sweet and so sexy.
He flattened his palms against Kevin’s chest and slid them up to cup Kevin’s jaw. It was strong and masculine, and instead of feeling odd, it may have turned Fen on even more. He didn’t think he’d ever liked a kiss as much as he liked Kevin’s. At least that part of the buildup in his head had been right.
All he wanted was more.
Impractical Magic is a charming, light-hearted story with depth. O’Shea’s knack for humorous dialogue and action shines through clearly in this book (as it does in Newton’s Laws of Attraction). O’Shea is a wonderful storyteller, and with this sequel, she wraps up some of the angst and loose ends from the first book. Like the first book, this story has a bit of a coming of age theme, even though the main characters are all adults. The characters are engaging and worth getting to know.
Thank you to M.J.O’Shea and Dreamspinner Press for providing a review copy of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.