Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Nora Barr’s self-started law firm is about to fall apart–until she meets the mysterious mage Aethelstan Blackstone and the dwarf who calls himself Sancho Panza. For an obscene amount of money, all Nora has to do is hide a VW bus for 10 years until Panza returns for it. Finding herself caught in a modern fairy tale, Nora agrees to hide the bus, which guards a glass casket containing none other than Sleeping Beauty.

After the 10 years are up, Nora finds herself protective of the young beauty (named Emma) who has wakened from 1,000 years of sleep. Though Blackstone is the prophesied soul mate of Emma, Nora will not let him near her. To make matters worse, Nora’s small crush on Blackstone has escalated into something more–but it’s simply not meant to be. Or is it?

Utterly Charming by Kristine Grayson is utterly predictable. From the the very beginning, I knew exactly how everything would turn out for Nora, Emma, and Aethelstan. I was drawn to Utterly Charming because I absolutely adore fractured fairy tales, and love authors that are brave enough to blend contemporary with fairy tale fantasy. I was ready for a thoroughly entertaining and satisfying romance, but it fell flat.

I didn’t connect or relate to Nora; it wasn’t plausible to me that she would so readily believe in the fairy tales, or that she would like Emma so much. Considering that Nora has feelings for Aethelstan, why would she want to help Emma and protect her? I felt that she should resent her and act jealous of her, but she doesn’t do either of those things. The only character that was even remotely enjoyable for me was Sancho Panza; I thought he would actually turn out to be Rumpelstiltskin, but alas.

Grayson failed to weave a spell on me with her prose, seduce me with Aethelstan, or make me believe in the battle between the wicked stepmother and Aethelstan. I don’t like overly steamy romance novels, but this hardly qualifies as Romance; I’d actually give it a G rating. Sex is implied, but in one short and hurried sentence that induced eye rolling.

Utterly Charming is the first in the Fates series, which currently contains 7 titles. The Fates from Greek Mythology made a very brief appearance; I would have liked to see more of them. I was so disappointed by this book–the idea itself has great appeal to me, however–and I will be in no hurry to read another.

Rating: 2/5

Check out our review of Kristine Grayson’s Wickedly Charming

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sourcebooks Casablanca. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.