‘Enchanted Autumn’ is an engaging romance, full of magic, interesting characters and the perfect setting. Hazel is a Salem witch – and a real one at that. With a black cat, her very own broom stick and a penchant for potion-making, she is proud of who she is. That is until English academic, Dr Elizabeth Cowrie, arrives in town. The history researcher has an interest in the Salem witch trials, but does not believe in magic. In fact she scoffs at the very idea that it may exist. Hazel’s attraction to her is going to be a problem, as she must decide if she’s willing to give up her true self in pursuit of love.
I loved that the story was set in Salem. The author managed to weave some historical details from the witch trials into this modern romance. But it was ultimately about the triumph of magic, of love. Hazel was an astute businesswoman, but still managed to stay true to her roots. Her witchcraft was important to her and to the whole community, even if some of them were not aware of her true nature. Elizabeth may have been a sceptic, but she was kind, passionate and intelligent. I adored the ‘Britishisms’ scattered throughout the story. They were spot-on. I also enjoyed the writing style, which pulled me into their world, a world I’d like to revisit.
‘A Letter To Three Witches’ by Elizabeth Bass is a delightful story that is sure to be the first in a much anticipated series. Gwen’s family have been forbidden to practice witchcraft by the Grand Council of Witches. Nearly one hundred years ago her great-great grandfather cast a spell that caused havoc and since then his descendants have been watched closely. Any whiff of magic and they are in big trouble. Although Gwen and her cousins, Trudy and Milo, have avoided being caught for minor transgressions, things change when Gwen’s adopted sister puts a spanner in the works. She sends a letter to each stating that she will steal one of their partners by the end of the week. Who will it be? And how will they stop her? The stress results in the magic they have been denying surfacing, with disastrous consequences. Long buried secrets threaten to change everything they thought was true.
This was a lighthearted, funny and totally enchanting read. It was the perfect escapism, and one I really appreciated in these difficult times. It was a wonderfully conceived story, with some laugh out loud moments and some poignant ones too. I loved the characters and the world Elizabeth Bass has imagines. I want more of these characters and I can’t wait to read the next one.
‘Elemental Attraction’ by K Aten is the first in her new MythWorld Series. It’s a beautifully crafted tale of shapeshifters, mythical creatures and destiny. Ellys is a half-elven swordsman and a great one at that. She hires out her skills to help keep body and soul together for herself and her companion steed, Roccotari. When dragon shapeshifter, Aderri offers her more than the usual rate to help her get home for an important family ceremony she agrees. But the journey is fraught with danger and the threesome find themselves dealing with more than they bargained for. Add in the beginnings of an attraction that grows hotter as they near Aderri’s homeland. As each grapple with their own and others expectations, life becomes a whole lot more interesting.
The world-building is superb in ‘Elemental Attraction’ and K Aten has once again hooked me with her imaginative storytelling. The mixture of different creatures is fantastic and seeing how they interact with each other made me laugh and sometimes shed a tear. Ellys is strong and fearless and loyal. She strives to achieve balance in everything she does. Her relationship with Roccotari is funny, sarcastic and joyful. They have an amazing bond and it is the most significant relationship for both of them. As they travel with Aderri we begin to see that love does not have to be static, and change can be embraced. I loved the banter between the three, but also the traditions, mythology and history that made them who they were. A great story.
‘The Fog of War’ by A.L. Lester is a historical paranormal romance set in England after the First World War. As Dr Silvia Marks settles back into life in the small English village where she grew up, she tries to forget the grief tearing at her heart. The disappearance of her lover during the war has left her scarred. With the help of army nurse Walter, she becomes the local G.P. and runs her own practice. When a friend from the battlefield hospital comes to stay, she begins to see some purpose again. But a strange mystery with one of her patients throws everything up in the air. She must decide if she had the courage to find out what’s going on. Because doing so has far-reaching complications.
This was an imaginative story, with an interesting premise. I liked the time period, as it was a time when women began to venture out into the workplace due to the lack of male labour available. Sylvia was strong and capable, but was still struggling with heartbreak. Lucy came into her life at just the right time, and she had a positive influence on her. The paranormal element was intriguing and there is so much scope to develop it further in the next books in the series. I was certainly very curious as to where it would lead. I enjoyed the book and eagerly await more.
‘Guin The Emerald’ is the second in the Shift Series by Louisa Kelley, and is even better than the first. Guin leads a team cleaning up the mess left behind when the world, and specifically Portland, became aware of the existence of dragons. Miriam is back as the only human who knows the real story. But can she be trusted? And why is Cellie compelled to seek out the answer to a very strange mystery?
I loved finding it more about the Draca and their magic. Their world opened up more and I couldn’t get enough. The developing attraction between Guin and Miriam was especially welcome. It was surprisingly tender and passionate . The story had adventure and mystery and fascinating insights into the lives of the Draca and their connection to Earth. There was a little ‘Easter Egg’ for fans of sapphic fiction too. You’ll know it when you see it.
The book had a lovely family feeling and made me wish for more in the future.
‘Keepers’ book one in the New Harbor Witches series by Kelli Jae Baeli is a fantastic start to the series, with plenty to grab the reader’s attention. Dane and her sister have been estranged for years, after Penny fled her home town. Dane was left to look after the family bistro and their grandmother, a woman whose very presence sucked the joy out of life. When grandmother dies life changes for the women, and they become aware of a part of their inheritance that is completely unexpected. Strange things begin to happen to them both, and slowly the unexplained becomes clear. How will Dane and Penny cope with their new reality – and how do those around them fit in?
I felt invested in Dane and Penny’s story from the start and couldn’t put the book down. It’s an excellent mystery with fascinating characters, set in a world the reader can believe in. It’s also very funny and sexy and downright addictive. It left me wanting a whole lot more, so I’ll be reading book 2, ‘Ravens’, ASAP.
ThreadNeedle is stunning. The writing is intensely beautiful, and carried me off into a world of magic and love, secrets and lies. Anna has been warned of the dangers of magic, but as she approaches her sixteenth birthday, things begin to change. Effie and Attis come into her life, and it becomes more difficult to resist that magic and believe what she has been told. Joining The Binders has been her fate. But is she ready for a life of pain and denial? Her Aunt is determined she will do as she is told, but Anna’s eyes are opened to new possibilities. As the story unfolds we enter a world of wonder, of magical libraries, of underground secrets hidden from the ‘real’ world. I was hungry for more. The story was brilliantly conceived and I couldn’t put it down. I want more and more of the same.
‘A Fae Tale’ is the story of Dovana, a human saved as a child in Lithuania by Roze, a fae. Every year the pair exchange letters and gifts, even though Dovana has moved with her family to Toronto. They have a bond; one that no-one else in Dovana’s life can match. But as time goes on Roze becomes increasingly worried about the future – one that she has never divulged to anyone. Dovana feels the pull to Roze and wants to see be in contact with her more than just once a year. As she begins to look into doing so, she finds out a lot more than she bargained for.
This is an unusual tale, but a very enjoyable one. It’s funny and a bit kooky, but very sweet and romantic too. I loved the settings of Lithuania and Toronto. It’s refreshing to read a story set somewhere different. I also enjoyed the folklore of Lithuania and mixing it with present day Canada. Genevieve McCluer writes great humorous prose and I found myself giggling out loud a few times in the course of reading this book. Her characters are well defined and fun, and she makes her secondary characters come to life as much as the main protagonists. An enjoyable read.
Golden Sea is the second in the Mapmaking Magicians series by Emma Sterner-Radley. I’ve been eagerly awaiting its release, as I loved the first book, Silver Beasts. The four friends are back at the Hall of Explorers, but things have changed. The King is determined to carry on with his agenda and is now less willing to stick to the original plan. No wonder the students are worried. As well as dealing with their forthcoming dangerous mission, their emotions cause them further confusion. Dealing with them will not be easy.
Wonderfully descriptive language takes the reader into the world of Cavarra, a world that has been meticulously created. I loved how the story opened out and in some ways things became clearer. We learned more about the history and backstory, but the author also teased us with tantalising titbits of adventures to come. It’s a YA story, but its appeal goes far beyond that audience. The fantasy, magic and mystery within the story makes it a great read for a much wider audience. I really enjoyed it and look forward to the next in the series.