I picked this book up from NetGalley because I thought it would be fun to try out some new romances, and I liked the title and especially the cover. With no expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed this fun romance that mashed up a bunch of romance tropes with witchcraft, shapeshifters, politics and sibling rivalry.
Violet comes from a powerful family of witches, but she’s known as the family “dud”, having never manifested any powers. Even though she’s the eldest and therefore the heir to be the next Prima witch, she’s passed that role on to her sister. Then Lincoln, the head of the local shapeshifter pack and the high school boyfriend Violet never got over, comes back into her life. Lincoln abandoned Violet as a teenager, but a curse by his father prevents him from telling her why.
This book combines the second chance, enemies to lovers, fake dating and the “I can’t tell you” tropes (I’m making up that last one but it’s a thing). A few too many tropes, perhaps, but it’s done in such good humor I enjoyed it anyway. This book never takes itself too seriously, from snarky chapter titles to jokes about “ass ointment” and Violet’s friend referring to Lincoln “Mr. Sex on Legs.”
The book keeps things light even though the characters struggle with issues that are bigger than their relationship. Violet is dealing with her status as a witch, her self-esteem and her relationships with her family. Lincoln is dealing with his abusive upbringing and trying to manage his pack in a way that’s equitable for all shapeshifting species. They are fighting the archaic and misogynist rules of the governing Magic Council.
Lately my favorite romances seem to be the ones where two characters need to deal with their issues and then come together, rather than ones with grand gestures or one character saving the other. Maybe that’s a more modern approach to romance, or maybe it’s just the stage of my life I’m in. In this story, it worked.
In addition to really liking the two main characters, this book makes great use of the sisters and friends to bring the story to life. Well-written, funny and clever dialogue kept me engaged, and Asher did a great job of making the relationships in the book among various characters feel real.
I saw a comment on Goodreads that the magical world of these characters wasn’t very well explained in the beginning, and I think that’s a fair criticism. If you’re looking for detailed world-building this book may not work for you. It wasn’t entirely clear, for example, how much the non-magical humans know about the magical world and how different magical creatures interact with each other (they all just seem to get along). Also, I love a story about shapeshifters but there was never any real shifting in this book (mostly it’s just a lot of wolf-puns and Lincoln consulting his inner wolf).
Still, if you’re looking for a fun romance with well-developed characters and an interesting story, I recommend this one. The characters had great chemistry, and it was fun to read a romance set in a magical world. Most paranormal romances are very dark but I haven’t read one like this (though I know they’re out there). I’ll be looking forward to the next one.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and publisher St. Martin’s Press. Author April Asher also publishes under the name April Hunt. This book was published February 8, 2022.