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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Review: Dysfunctional by Cynthia St. Aubin

Click Here to buy Dysfunctional by Cynthia St. Aubin

Dr. Matilda Schmidt, Ph.D Psy.D - is a pretty, analytical, mentally moderate virgin. Her orderly days get a sudden hitch in their giddy-up when the sexy demi-god Crixus repeatedly brings her supernaturals in need of mental healing.

Our good lady-doctor seems to be having a run of supernaturally odd days:
1) Kidnapped by a sexy bounty hunter to be called on the carpet by a Vegas mob boss for a gambling debt an impostor racked up while dealing with Cupid's depression and lack of work ethic makes for a crazy road trip.
2) Fighting off angry tubers with a penchant for crotch shots while looking for a stash of gold and harboring a confused leprechaun can ruin anyone's good time.
3) Trying to help a suicidal Easter Bunny while being blackmailed by a ferret-like photographer AND avoid being the victim of the jealous rage of two goddesses can really ruin a bake sale.

Every time the pendulum of life starts to swing toward "normal", it whips back at Matilda bearing more crazy, and higher stakes.

"Where are we going?" I asked.
"One of your favorite places." Only a tourniquet could stop the false brightness bleeding from his voice.
"Whole Foods?" Hope floated my voice to a pitch too eager to respect.

The first installments in The Case Files of Dr. Matilda Schmidt, Paranormal Psychologist series are a very quick read. What they lack in length is more than made up for in fun. Cynthia St. Aubin's writing instantly charms with vivid clarity and color. The range of humor flows naturally. It streams along the spectrum from dark to silly, harmonizing with each situation.

Matilda reacting to her orderly world being upended in a fantastical way is quite amusing. She pinballs from analytical curiosity to irritation and fear to lustful abandon. She's very quixotic, but not in a way that makes her unbelievable. As a character, she's surprisingly rich, and she stays within the boundaries St. Aubin has given her.

Crixus is a demi-god of whom I've never heard. He's got the arrogance and impatience of an immortal but it's implied he has a kind core. The irreverent tossing of Cupid into Matilda's professional care is out of concern for the love god. He's got some intriguing teleportation skills, and flirts unrepentantly with our heroine. Crixus may have deeper feelings for Matilda, but he hides them well with incorrigible innuendo and the repeated seduction of her assistant.

Liam/Luigi Whatshisname is another character that St. Aubin writes very well. He's an alpha-male, a little broken, but he stoically does what he has to do. He doesn't really pull any punches with Matilda's capture. There's not an instant, gooey-eyed intimacy that prevents him from harming her. He doesn't truly hurt her, but is somewhat blase about keeping her unconscious and in less than comfortable physical conditions during much of their journey. He pops up repeatedly, always finding himself mired in the supernatural debacle of the day. Liam and Crixus have a macho rivalry that is quite amusing, especially since Liam does not seem bothered at all that Crixus could squash him like an ant.

The patients both supernatural and human that grace Dr. Schmidt's couch are all very colorful and quite funny. What would seem to be a boring job suddenly becomes a minefield of neurosis. It's a good thing Matilda is a fast thinker and very good at her job. She uses her training to neutralize her would-be enemies rather than brute force. Her quick thinking is both sharp and nimble - Dr. Matilda Schmidt is a mental health ninja.

The stories move at a brisk pace, but don't lose too much due to the lack of length. The "rules" of the paranormal are joyfully bent - no lengthy exposition, fresh ideas of what the para characters can and cannot do, etc. While they could each easily be stretched out into full-length novels, part of the charm is that they're all a quick read. The reader gets a good introduction to the characters, a roller-coaster of a plot, and a silly but well-devised resolution - just before being efficiently teased with the next chapter of Dr. Schmidt's adventures.

There's not really many problems here. Liam's character seems to gravitate toward Matilda's quite quickly, despite Cupid's assertion that the attraction should be only physical. There is one missing "hour" - the contents of which were teased by our heroine's musings. These memories were interrupted and not really brought to a conclusion. However, I could not tell if this was a plot hole, or if the author meant to tease and distract...time will tell as the chapters unfold.

On a side-note: I have a very major pet-peeve about typos and editing errors. It's a compulsion and something that will yank me right out of a story. This book was beautifully edited and formatted.

This series became a fast and heavy addiction. I've read it three times already, and I am looking forward to seeing what new characters and shenanigans will ensue.

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