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Review: Rating: 4.5, Reviewed by Ivy for LASR

Yes, it's a series, and I picked it up having only read Book Three of this fascinating paranormal adventure that features warriors and witches from another world hidden around Seattle, Washington. I picked it up because I love a sassy voice that can intertwine the weird with the everyday, and make it sound normal. Author Phoebe Matthews does this with style.

Goldilocks is another chapter in fortune-teller, Claire's, tumultuous life. Having her sweetheart, Tarvik, at her side, plus some cousins, Claire must deal with Tarvik's ex-fiancée when she shows up in the car. The beautiful golden girl, Alakar, has brought trouble with her...

One of Matthews' gifts, besides her ability to write so naturally in first person, is her knack to make each Mudflat book in the series stand on its own. You don't have to begin with the first book to enjoy and understand what is happening in this town full of magical folks. The stories do the explaining. Matthews' voice does the entertaining. If anything, every time I finish a Mudflat story, I really want to start at the beginning of the series just to enjoy the ride all over again.

Not being an everyday paranormal reader, some may be surprised that I admire and enjoy the Mudflat series with so much enthusiasm. This should say everything about the originality of the stories and the quality of writing from both the author and publishing company. Readers of all genres will get a kick out of meeting Claire and her friends. If you haven't been to Mudflat — you're missing out.



Goldilocks Hits Town
 
Chapter 1

Like my life wasn’t complicated enough, did I really need my boyfriend’s ex-fiancĂ©e moving in with us?

Tarvik and I took a weird holiday, driving from Seattle to the Olympic Peninsula for a short stop to his old Nowhere Land. A bit over a hundred miles. However, the trip includes a couple of bridges and a ferry boat ride. Depending on how long the wait for the ferry is, we’re talking three to four hours.

His world can only be entered through a break in reality that’s set in the middle of a stream in the Olympic National Forest on the western edge of Washington State. We had to wade through waist-high water. Returning to his world was weird and so was the reason. We took a box of cremated remains to be buried there. Long story. I won’t explain just now. What matters is this.
With the job done, Tar and I hiked out of his world and back to mine, where we left the car in a parking area in the forest. Not a parking lot. Just a small level space at the end of a narrow dirt road and marked off with log barriers.

The plan was simple. Chore done, reward time. That meant crossing a couple of peninsulas and bridges to catch the ferry home to Seattle. Along the way we’d stop at a McDonald’s and treat ourselves.

The only complication was wading back through the stream that wound beneath an archway of alders with silver-gray trunks and long thin branches covered with a fluttering of light green leaves. Above the alders the Douglas firs stretched to the sky. Beneath the trees the forest floor was thick with ferns and fir needles, filling the air with their scent.

We had both been halfway dried by sun and wind when we were in the meadow burying the mortuary box.

Tarvik handed me his shoes to carry and paused long enough to say, “Try to keep them dry, my Claire.”

Then he tossed me over his shoulder and carried me above the muddy water. We’re the same height and that’s about the only similarity. I’m a skinny weakling. He’s solid muscle. He thinks it is really fun to pick me up and drop me across his shoulder and leave me hanging head down over his back. I planted my elbows in his back to help keep my head up and my long hair from trailing in the water.

When he climbed out, he set me down. With our arms around each other’s waists, we trudged across a carpet of moss and leaves toward the car. My hair is fine, the kind that blows all over and snarls. I tried to fingercomb the tangles.

“You’re soaking wet,” I said.

He was, from the waist down.

His wet jeans clung to him. Okay, I wasn’t complaining about the view.

Tarvik’s bod is beautiful, muscular, well-proportioned. He’s solid and strong, and have I mentioned his blond hair and his sky blue eyes and the little line of freckles across his elegant nose? And his smile? He’s got a smile that makes me go limp. He flashed it at me now.

“I’ll dry my feet when we get to the car.”

“You’ll still be soaking wet.”

“I suppose I can take off my jeans,” he teased, and kissed my ear and whispered a few sassy comments.

“And drive home naked. Right. Why didn’t we remember to bring extra clothes?”

“I think there’s a coverall of Roger’s in the trunk. He leaves them there for when we’re working on the car.”

Our friend Roger is enormous, almost seven feet tall. I had a vision of Tarvik, who is my height, about five and half feet tall, in Roger’s denim coverall with the sleeves and pant legs rolled. My guy is a hunk, but he’s a short hunk. In Roger’s clothes, he’d look like he was wearing a tent.

“All right. That might be warmer. Good thing McDonald’s is a drive-thru,” I agreed.

His red Chevy caught little glimmers of sunlight through the branches of the trees. Pride of his life, that car. It’s over ten years old, but he acquired it only recently, so it is new to him. As often as he washes it, I figure he’ll soon rub through the paint.

We’d just about reached it when he said, “The back door is open. Claire, did we leave it like that?”

“Guess we forgot to close it.”

“I hope we don’t have a squirrel in the back seat.”

We shoulda been so lucky.

As we got closer, I saw a shape on the back seat and then I saw a small bare foot sticking out past the hem of a twisted skirt. A child lost in the woods? Automatically, I started to dig in the pocket of my jeans for my cell phone.

Didn’t have it. Oh, right. I’d left it in the car so that I wouldn’t drop it in the stream.

We weren’t near any campground and it was quite a walk to the highway. By now there’d be a major search going on for a lost child. There would be frantic parents somewhere.

Tarvik reached the car first and leaned in. He obviously didn’t see any serious injury on our trespasser because he put his hand on the small ankle.

“Looks like a teenager. She’s asleep,” he said over his shoulder. He gently shook the ankle and bent down into the doorway. I heard him ask something about, “Are you lost? Do you need help?”

I hurried on around the car to the passenger door to get my phone. And that’s what I was doing, bending over the front seat, hitting the latch on the glove compartment, when I heard him say her name.

His voice changed completely, went from soft to shocked. “Alakar?”

Gotta tell ya, he wasn’t any more shocked than I was. I’d just found my phone and pulled it out of the compartment. My fingers turned boneless and I dropped it, swung around, bumped my head on the roof, kept turning, knelt on the seat and peered over the back. And nearly passed out from shock.

Because yeah, there she was, not a child at all, definitely a woman, very short and very curvy, with milky skin and a gorgeous face framed in masses of wavy red-gold hair. She sat up and pushed that curtain of hair back from her face and gave him the kind of smile I don’t even know how to do. It’s the sort you see on supermodels, a smile that promises all kinds of stuff, so take your pick, boyfriend.

Right. Two big problems about all that. First, Tarvik is MY boyfriend. And second, when I first met him he was planning on marrying Alakar.