An underwhelming novel that often gets too heavy-handed with its theme.

THE AGE OF WITCHES

Three witches attempt to magically alter their futures at the end of the 19th century in this historical fantasy novel.

The third entry in Morgan’s (The Witch’s Kind, 2019, etc.) thematically connected series of witch novels centers on two descendants of real-life Salem witch Bridget Byshop who wage magical war over the fate of a headstrong teenager. Living in New York City in 1890, distant cousins Harriet and Frances trace their ancestry back to Bridget’s two daughters. Frances’ ancestor inherited Bridget’s "maleficia," a book of black magic, which would-be socialite Frances intends to use to force her stepdaughter, Annis, into a loveless union with a British marquess to secure her own place in New York society. Harriet has devoted her life and craft to helping women in need, so when she overhears Frances’ plans for Annis—who is also Harriet’s great-niece and one of Bridget’s descendants—she follows them to England. Women’s inability to control their own destinies is clearly a theme here, but the novel’s heavy-handed treatment makes this message more burdensome than enlightening. When she realizes that a forced marriage is set to shatter her dream of breeding her own line of racehorses, Annis melodramatically laments that she is “for sale, like a filly at the horse market.” Morgan's failure to differentiate between voices—conversations between Annis and Frances are nearly indistinguishable from those between the marquess and his mother in both subject matter and vocabulary—makes it difficult for the reader to connect with the characters’ plights, even at the novel’s climax, as does a jarring opening that quickly alternates between point-of-view characters and pauses several times for lengthy backstory. For all of Frances’ dealings in darkness, an unnecessary attempted rape scene caused by black magic provides the story’s only true moment of suspense.

An underwhelming novel that often gets too heavy-handed with its theme.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-41950-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Guillory’s debut is a mix of romance and raunch that will charm rom-com fans.

THE WEDDING DATE

A fake romance starts becoming surprisingly real.

Alexa is a lawyer-turned–chief of staff for the mayor of Berkeley. Drew is a pediatric surgeon from LA in town for his ex-girlfriend’s wedding. When the two get stuck in an elevator in a San Francisco hotel, they unexpectedly hit it off, and Drew convinces Alexa to be his plus-one at the wedding, leading to a whole fake-relationship scheme. The relationship may be fake, but Alexa and Drew are very clearly interested in each other. As a one-night stand becomes a two-night stand becomes weekend trips between Berkeley and LA, both are in denial about how important they are to each other. As they face ups and downs, ultimately they must decide if they want to try to make a real relationship work. The writing is fast-paced, jumping between Alexa's and Drew’s points of view. The two leads are charming, and both have quirky friends who add flavor to the story. The issue of race comes up since Alexa is black and Drew is white; Alexa is more aware of situations that may turn ugly, and Drew becomes more mindful of his privilege, a timely lesson that adds depth to the story. The book is also unexpectedly raunchy, since Alexa and Drew’s connection starts as a purely physical one and they only later develop deeper feelings. The characters never find a situation that doesn’t turn them on at least a little bit.

Guillory’s debut is a mix of romance and raunch that will charm rom-com fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-58766-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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An entertaining page-turner.

MET HER MATCH

Terri Rayburn is devastated that her perfect man belongs to someone else, but once Nate Taggert realizes that Terri's the one for him, her complicated past still stands in the way of their being together.

Terri is attracted to Nate the moment she lays eyes on him, and soon they fall into an easy partnership at the Virginia lake resort she runs with her father. Nate is upfront about being engaged to the mayor’s daughter, Stacy, but she’s in Europe for a few weeks, and it quickly becomes clear to Terri that Nate and Stacy aren’t a great match. However, Terri, whose mother left when she was 2, has always had a problematic relationship with the citizens of Summer Hill. Since Leslie disappeared, the town gossip has made sure everyone remembers her as a promiscuous vixen, a label which tainted Terri as she got older and made her look like a problem when, as Nate begins to understand, she was really a victim. It’s clear to everyone around them that they are falling in love, but even as Nate realizes it himself, Terri is adamant that they can’t be together. She won’t steal him from the popular Stacy because it would mean she’d never be able to live in Summer Hill, and she won’t abandon her father. Deveraux spins an intriguing and unorthodox romance, continuing her Summer Hill branch of the Taggert/Montgomery series with two characters who have some unique, interesting obstacles in their paths and navigate through them with secrets uncovered and old wounds healed. The story is well plotted, though Nate is unnecessarily oblivious sometimes and the book takes an unexpected swing into romantic suspense territory in the last quarter. The solved mystery resolves Nate and Terri’s conflict, though the villain’s motivations seem a little cartoonish.

An entertaining page-turner.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7783-5124-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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