I picked up this book because I'd been reading the author's blog and found her "voice" in her entries to be one I enjoyed. I was not disappointed by the decision. "Charmed" is a delightful story, not quite romantic comedy, but definitely not your average romantic suspense. Bodyguard Colin Murphy is called in by a friend to watch out for a "princess" who's in danger. He's not expecting a children's storyteller with a princess persona. Ciotta gets things moving from page one and doesn't let up until the end.
There's a tremendous amount of humor mixed in with the action that follows, all of which arises naturally from the movement of the plot rather than having the feeling of "insert joke here" that one sometimes encounters when reading romantic comedy. Since Lulu not only works children parties, but is a roving entertainer in an Atlantic City Casino, there's a great deal of material to mine and Ciotta doesn't hesitate to do so. The hero being forced to don the troll suit is great. Trust me.
I will confess that there were a few moments near the beginning where I felt Lulu threatened to veer into "too stupid to live" territority, but since her escapes from the situations caused by those moments actually a) moved the plot forward and b) caused Lulu to take another look at the situation around her and realize it really *was* as serious as Colin was trying to tell her, they bothered me far less once I was pass them. Part of Lulu's character is that she does try to look at the world with a sunny disposition and treats people as if they are well-intentioned until they prove otherwise. Since there's a lowlife after her, this causes more than one problem, and in dealing with those problems, we see her grow and change, revealing a strength of character at the end of the story that wasn't obvious at the beginning.
It was an easy and entertaining read, and this is one author whose other works I'll definitely be taking a look at.