Bigtime, NY fashion designer Bella Belucci doesn't much care for the superheroes and ubervillains that run rampant in her town. All that spandex, ugh -- and who would want to take over the world anyway? All that responsibility! It wasn't bad enough that she'd been born into a family of heroes, her brother's engagement to her fashion rival, Fiona Fine, a.k.a. The Fearless Five's "Hot Mama" Fiera, had added another handful to the dinner table. She definitely had no intention of becoming one herself. Her own powers were mercurial at best. And what kind of lame power was "Luck" anyway? Her power was a jinx, and worse yet she couldn't even control when it would assert itself especially if she was angry or upset. Having supercharged telekinesis was like living in a ball of static electricity and more often than not her luck was bad. Even when it was good, it was more often than not followed up by an equal and opposite reaction.
What Bella does love is the arts, which is why she'd been elected as chairperson of the Friends of the Bigtime Museum for Modern Art. She and the fundraising committee are in the final stages of planning their annual fall-benefit. Their meeting takes place at the estate of Brighton Berkley, whiskey billionaire and richest man in town, and his new wife Joanna James. During the course of the planning session Bella is reminded that the other members of the committee had outvoted her and decided to have a masquerade ball as the main event. More spandex, ugh. Just the thought of it sends a warning signal through her body. Her luck is about to act up again, sending her to the powder room to clean up the mess she'd created. For once her bad luck is a blessing. When she hears a peculiar popping sound in the next room, she discovers Bigtime's master thief and major heartthrob, Debonair, lifting a priceless Pandora painting from her host. Of course the incorrigible playboy can't resist making a play for her, distracting Bella long enough to teleport away before she remembers to pull the fire alarm.
Naturally the robbery is all over the news the next day. Bella hated superheroes, so why couldn't she stop thinking about this one -- his black hair, blue eyes and so sexy smirk. The one thing she would never do is date a superhero or whatever the leather clad lothario was. And how was this going to affect her benefit since most of the town's wealthy, including Berkley, had promised to lend priceless pieces to the museum for a special exhibition? Bad publicity, just the thought of it put her capricious luck on the fritz. In one week she'd had enough bad luck to last a year and to top it off she had a sneaking suspicion that the handsome thief in question was following her. Pop!
Bella didn't want to be a superhero, or to design fashion really. What she wanted to be was a museum quality artist. Yes, Bella loved art - which is how she finds herself the first bachelorette up for bid as part of the gala benefit auction. Much to her surprise Devin Dash bids an exorbitant sum to win a date with her. Devin was different from the other folks in Bigtime, neither a superhero or ubervillain and not even much like the other wealthy normal citizens. She'd had dinner with him once, right before her father was killed by ubervillians. Between the grief and all the other chaotic events that followed, she'd forgotten all about him. Devlin was sweet, if a bit awkward, and painfully shy. He was just the kind of man she'd convinced herself she wanted. Their dinner together had been pleasant enough, so why couldn't she stop thinking about Debonair, who was exactly the kind of womanizing, bad boy superhero type she wanted nothing to do with. Oh well, at least the Museum was getting a hefty donation.
Debonair could have any woman he wanted, but he wanted Bella Balucci. In fact he'd been in love with her for some time now, and in spite of her protests and professed hatred for superheroes, he could tell she was interested too. So why did that make him feel so melancholy? If she or anyone else in town knew his true identity, they would no doubt laugh in his face, that's why. If only he could make her fall in love with the man he really was....
Bella is definitely due for some good luck and maybe, just maybe if she plays her cards right, there's a chance she could have it all. That is of course if all of Bigtime's superheroes and ubervillains could just stay out of her way for a few days. But then what's a Bigtime romance without a little mayhem?
I have to admit when I started reading the Bigtime series I was skeptical about how long it could last without becoming formulaic. Kudo's to Ms. Estep, in a very comic book world she has kept it real through her characters each of which is on a singular journey of self discovery. Written in the first person, the reader walks the entire distance in Bella's shoes, experiencing her angst, her insecurity, her love for her hero and the tough decision she must make about what's best for her -- him or her peace of mind. I know everyone will be able to relate to Debonair. Who among us hasn't resorted to role playing in moments where we feel inadequate?
If you think Superhero novels are just for kids, silly rabbit, let me set the record straight. Jinx is a ride that everyone can enjoy. For a fun, action packed tale that speaks to the heart, I recommend that you give Jinx a try.
Note: Romance readers should not be put off by the first person narration. Ms. Estep skillfully manages to put the reader inside the hero's head through clever characterization without directly tapping into his point of view.