Charlii Darling’s earthy-yet-glitzy romances take in supernatural alternate worlds, the cut-and-thrust of corporate life and the rarefied plane of the high-end influencer. Equally at ease in each setting, her heroes and heroines combine vulnerability, gutsiness and the all-important, often incendiary sexiness.
Big Slick, like another of our Darling picks, imagines a world in which magic moves Tinseltown almost as much as money. Her Hollywood Witches encounter morally flexible yet irresistible foils for their unique gifts.
Island Nights’ lush, luxe island setting might easily lend itself to a twisty mystery as a passionate fling (Glass Onion, anyone?) – a hothouse of beautiful people in splendid isolation. Into this sexy milieu arrives Avery, invited to work on an exciting, creative project while nursing a broken heart. Naturally, the tropical setting offers plenty of distractions…
A return of sorts, to the rarefied, high-flying glamour of Island Nights, though Neon Smoke presents a jungle of the concrete variety. Mitsu, once a Nagle-esque model in sleek 80s Manhattan carries a torch for the alluring Damien. Replete with an indulgent, retro ‘uptown glitz’, Mitsu’s adventures as girl-about-town provide delicious escapism, while her inner life and awareness of the occasional silliness of her work in fashion make her an engaging narrator.
Another novella of Hollywood trickery, of real magic and tawdry glitter – Trick, a witch whose powers could once make or break an aspiring starlet finds her own star on the wane. Darling’s lively prose evokes a feeling of both wonder and cynicism in the movies, as well as a delicious tension between Trick and her devilish paymaster.
Despite the cover billing of ‘Pulp Noir’, Dandelion Jack opens with tender, wistful melancholy. Britt, solitary since her husband’s disappearance mourns not only the man himself, but her potential, his grandiose ambition and ‘overreach’.
Amid the ruins of his failed housing development and her bittersweet memories, she must have her husband declared officially dead to begin moving on. The very night this takes place, she meets the mysterious Roman Carter and loses herself in a highly charged affair. Of course, it’s not long before Britt must reckon once more with her past and her tentative trust in Roman begins to feel like history repeating.