Originally posted on Leah’s Books.
- Author: Celestine Martin
- Genre: Paranormal Romance
- Publication Date: September 27, 2022
- Publisher: Forever
Thank you to Forever for sending me a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Love is the trickiest spell of all.
Lucinda Caraway loves living in Freya Grove, the mystic seaside town where charms, hexes, and magical beings of all kinds are the norm. She spends her days teaching high school history and her nights reading tea leaves and tending to her conjure garden. It’s a good life … but she can’t stop wishing for more.
Until one night, that wish turns into a spell, and suddenly Lucy can’t say no. Not to a public karaoke performance. Not to running a 10K. And, most alarmingly, not to her high school crush, Alexander Dwyer, who needs her help unjinxing his new house—which just happens to be right across the street from hers.
Alex has spent the last ten years traveling the world on adventures Lucy has only ever dreamed of, and he’s planning to leave again as soon as his house is safe to sell. But until Lucy can unhex herself, she and Alex are stuck together. And with so much magic in the air, maybe the next spell Lucy casts will be the one that convinces him to stay.
I was really excited about this book, because it looked exactly like the kind of book that I would like, and it arrived just in time for my spate of paranormal October reads. But once I started reading … you know those books where you can already tell that you’re going to love it once you’ve finished the first chapter? This was one of those.
Martin sets this story in a town where witches, vampires, gnomes, and other paranormal creatures live harmoniously, out in the open, with no politics or conflict. The town is just widely accepted as a magical place, and it was really cool to see that for a change. The majority of paranormal stories involve secrecy surrounding the magical characters, and this one completely removed that aspect, allowing the romance and the central conflicts for the characters to shine.
Lucy is an enjoyable character. She’s settled in Freya Grove, where she’s lived her entire life. As a teacher and the eldest of three sisters, she’s the responsible one who lives a quiet, boring life. But as her 10-year reunion approaches and she receives an email requesting an update on her life, she realizes that nothing has really changed for her. And her sisters, cousin, and she decide to finally make use of their magic and wish for what they really want. Now she’s got to decide what it is that she wants:
“What do you want? Late-night calls. Kisses sweeter than honey. Someone that will stir my soul. Stupid inside jokes. Fun dates. Sharing hopes and fears. To feel safe and secure. A space of my own.”
Ultimately, she wishes for more excitement. And that is exactly what she gets. Suddenly she can’t refuse any exciting invitation that she gets, winding up participating in everything she never expected to. Even when she crosses paths with Alex, her old high school flame that never quite worked out, since he took off immediately after graduation.
We also get to see Alex’s POV, which was nice. Alex is a merman, which was really cool to see, since it isn’t a common thing to see, and especially because both of the characters are Black. Part of being a merman for him is having an intense wanderlust and being unable to stay put in one place, so being gifted a house is a problem, and not just because it’s directly across the street from Lucy. Since Alex moves so often, he keeps material possessions and emotional connections to a minimum, and that’s been his motto for all of his life:
“He lived under one rule: If you don’t keep anything, you can’t lose it.”
But as they get to know each other again, things clearly can’t be simple. With her cousin’s wedding looming, their class reunion getting closer every day, and Alex’s plan to leave at the end of the summer hanging over their head, along with Lucy’s ex seemingly popping up around every corner, the two of them wind up fake dating as Lucy decorates Alex’s house. You and I both know how that goes, and the fake dating doesn’t last long before things start to feel real and both of them catch genuine feelings for each other, feelings that never really went anywhere in the last ten years, but each of them know that they ultimately want different things, and neither wants to ask the other to give up on what they truly want:
“This distance between her and Alex seemed vast. It felt as if she and Alex were on opposite shores, separated by an invisible storm-tossed ocean; she couldn’t navigate the water alone, and he couldn’t cross over it to meet her.”
I adored this story. It’s a sweet romance, with some humor, some sparkles of magic, and a beautiful peek into these two people who felt incredibly real. I loved the sibling relationships between Lucy and her sisters, Sirena and Callie, as well as the way they related to their cousin, Ursula. This was one of those books that I had to read slowly just to savor it, because I didn’t want to rush through it. And while it’s rare that I read a book with absolutely no content warnings, it was nice to read a sweet and fluffy read with a happy ending.