Yuri and Dixon are continuing their search for Dixon’s Uncle Fonzo, and this time the trail takes them to Spring Falls Hot Spring Spa. It seems pretty clear that Fonzo has come and gone, once again leaving magical chaos in his wake in the small town. The men have found the Spellcraft that Fonzo used, but it has been shredded and they need to find a way to fix it before they can reverse the damage.
In the meantime, things at the spa are chaotic and Yuri and Dixon can’t help but step in to try to fix it (well, Dixon can’t help it; Yuri is a bit more begrudging). The spa is failing and the owner is at risk of losing the family business, and with an important critic on the way, this could make or break things for her. The guys step in to help, including by impersonating the spa staff who have left. Between appeasing the critic, figuring out how to give spa treatments, consoling a jilted bride, and trying to clean up Fonzo’s magical mess, the guys have their hands full. But working together, Yuri and Dixon just might make it work.
Something Stinks at the Spa is the third full book in Jordan Castillo Price’s ABCs of Spellcraft series. The overarching story continues across the series, so while I think you could pretty easily follow the plot here, some of the world building details might be confusing if you haven’t read at least the first book. Where I think this series excels is the interplay between Yuri and Dixon. Yuri is a stoic Russian who has no real interest in interacting with others. But Yuri loves Dixon and would do anything for his cheery, friendly boyfriend — even if that means figuring out how to give a grumpy critic a spa treatment. Yuri may be tough and scare most people off, but he is putty in Dixon’s hands and I find them such a sweet and charming couple. The series also has a lot of humor as the guys get themselves into all kind of crazy situations, and this story continues in much the same style with a playful silliness to the books.
I did find that this one didn’t resonate with me quite as much as the earlier books, particularly the first one. What I enjoy the most about this series, aside from Dixon and Yuri, is the clever world building. The first book, Quill Me Now, really introduced some creative ideas and the magical side played a significant role in the story. As we get further into the series, that aspect seems to have lessened in favor of watching the guys try to clean up Fonzo’s messes as they get into all kinds of crazy situations, and I find myself missing the paranormal side of things. The magic is still there, but it doesn’t get as much attention, whereas all the wacky trouble the guys are getting up to is given much more prominence.
While we are introduced to Fonzo through Dixon in the first book, it almost feels like now we have lost the thread of that story. The guys are ostensibly looking for him, but by the time they get anywhere, he is gone and they are just cleaning up his magical mess, not really trying to find him. Fonzo has started to feel like more of an afterthought than the driving force behind the plot. I also would love more relationship development between Yuri and Dixon, as in this book they seem to barely even be together and not much grows between them since the last book. I think perhaps if the humor resonated more with me, I wouldn’t have been as bothered by these things, but I don’t think it is quite clicking with me enough to be able to just enjoy the silliness and ignore the rest.
Overall, I think this is a fun series and if you are finding yourself enjoying the humor and really liking the earlier books, I think you will like this one too. I wished for more magic and more time to focus on the men and their relationship to balance out the hijinks, but I do think this is a cute series and nice for a light read.