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I Belong

Review: Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells

Dirty MagicTitle: Dirty Magic

Author: Jaye Wells

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: The Prospero’s War (Book 1)

Publication Date: January 21, 2014

Format: Paperback, 381 Pages

ISBN-10: 0316228435 (Orbit)

ISBN-13: 978-0316228435 (Orbit)

Reviewed by: Steph


The last thing patrol cop Kate Prospero expected to find on her nightly rounds was a werewolf covered in the blood of his latest victim. But then, she also didn’t expect that shooting him would land her in the crosshairs of a Magic Enforcement Agency task force, who wants to know why she killed their lead snitch.

The more Prospero learns about the dangerous new potion the MEA is investigating, the more she’s convinced that earning a spot on their task force is the career break she’s been wanting. But getting the assignment proves much easier than solving the case. Especially once the investigation reveals their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier—on the same day she swore she’d never use dirty magic again.

Kate Prospero’s about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should be never say never.

Quick & Dirty: In a world filled with both good and bad magic, a cop who swore never again to use either kind is thrust into an investigation that has her hunting down a very dangerous potion. Will she be able to resist the temptation to use magic again?

Opening Sentence: It was just another fucked-up night in the Cauldron.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I read and enjoyed the first book in Jaye Wells’ Sabina Kane series, but due to having too many books and not enough time, I haven’t been able to continue it. Even so, when I realized that Wells had a new series coming out, I was very excited to start it. Thankfully, my enthusiasm was not misplaced, as I found this first book in the Prospero’s War series to be engrossing and entertaining from start to finish.

Kate Prospero swore she would never again cook or use dirty magic, a type of magic deemed illegal due to its ability to cause the user to become addicted to its effects. As Kate is the niece of the biggest dirty magic crime lord in the area, this means a career change. So, she took her younger brother out of the life and decided to become a cop. Now, it’s 10 years later, and Kate has spent five years as a beat cop and is starting to become frustrated that she’s never been promoted, most likely because of her past.  Then, one night while on duty, she comes across a man standing over a woman’s body. He’s obviously under the effects of some kind of potion, as he no longer looks fully human. In fact, he looks more like a werewolf. In a pursuit that eventually ends in the man’s death, Kate is drawn into an investigation of a new potion making its way to the streets: Grey Wolf. She now has to deal with a partner whose personality leaves much to be desired, having to see her former flame who is now a major suspect in the case, and trying to keep her 16-year-old brother from learning any magic for fear it will lead him down a dark road. All in a day’s work, right?

I have to say, I loved Kate. She is one of my favorite types of heroines: tough and sarcastic, yet also vulnerable because of her past. She has so much to prove, and I found myself rooting for her from the very beginning. The relationship with her brother Danny is written incredibly well. There were many scenes where I had a lump in my throat as they interacted, whether it be when they’re talking about their mother’s death or when Kate is trying to impress the dangers of magic on a boy who feels like an outcast.

The side characters are also written well. I definitely have very strong feelings one way or the other about all of them, and to feel that sort of connection (or antipathy) towards characters in the first book of a series is a very good sign, in my opinion, of things to come. There’s not much romance here, although there did appear to be signs of a potential love triangle. Triangles are not my favorite thing, but I’m going to reserve judgment until I see how things develop in future books.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable first book in a series. World building is done well, and the characters leap off the page. I’m very excited to see what else Jaye Wells has in store for this series!

Notable Scene:

I could only stand frozen, waiting for the moment when he spotted me.

Time slowed. He frowned at Eldritch the way one might at an annoying housefly. The redhead kept pace behind the trio while she talked on a cell phone. Volos turned toward her to say something, but on the way his gaze intersected with mine briefly before continuing. Slammed to a halt. Reversed.


I must have gasped because suddenly my lungs felt too full. Sweat broke out over my chest, where my heart thumped like jungle drums.

One second, he was as frozen as I had been, but then, inevitably, he left the others behind and came at me with the determination of a heat-seeking missile. His expression belonged in a high-stakes room in Vegas. I’d seen that poker face more times than I could count. I’d also seen the slight tightening of his jaw that indicated he wasn’t pleased by my presence.


Jesus, his voice cut to the bone. Energy sizzled along my spine and put every protective instinct in my body on code red.

“Mr. Volos.” My voice was steady, professional despite the sweat on my palms and the slight tremor in my midsection.

It felt as if everyone in the vicinity stopped to watch this momentous meeting, but no one had. Not really. Just Eldritch, who didn’t make an effort to hide his naked curiosity, and Gardner, who had on her cop face. Morales came to join Shadi off to my left and the pair openly stared at us.

“Mr. Volos, about that interview,” Gardner said into the tense silence.

Those hard eyes left me alone to stare down my new boss. “I thought BPD was investigating.”

“We are, sir.” Eldritch stepped in. “The MEA is assisting because they believe the murder might be linked to an Arcane investigation they’re working.

Volos looked back at me. “You’ve been spending a lot of time on this side of town lately. Thought you patrolled the east side.”

I stilled as his meaning sunk in. He’d seen me here the other day and he wanted me to know it. He also apparently had kept tabs on my position in the department. Dread settled over me like a cold mist. When a man like Volos kept tabs on you, it usually meant he wanted to use you–or he wanted you dead.

The Prospero’s War:

1. Dirty Magic

2. Cursed Moon

3. Deadly Spells (2015)


FTC Advisory: Orbit provided me with a copy of Dirty Magic. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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