You Didn’t Love Me Then (2021)

by Lily Baines
ASIN/ISBN: B09FPNW43W
Publication: September 28, 2021
Series: Riviera View #1

**I received an e-copy of the book through the author. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Past and present collide as Luke and Libby accidentally meet again after fifteen years. Separately, they recall the stolen moments that eventually changed the trajectory of their friendship, transforming them from best friends into part of one another’s past. The chance meeting forces Libby to confront feelings she thought were resolved long ago, while Luke finally realizes what he left behind when he left Riviera View.

I can’t entirely explain how much I enjoyed this book, how it tugged at my emotions within the first few pages of Libby and Luke meeting again. (For the record, some parts were even more poignant and heartbreaking the second time around. Yup, I reread it already.) The book made me uncomfortable in a way only second chance romances can. My heart was at war with itself, fighting between my predisposition towards a happy ending but also wanting to prolong Luke’s suffering. It’s a slow burn romance that spoke to me on many levels as the pangs of unrequited love fulfilled their threats, inducing heartache and tears.

I immediately connected with Liberty because of her life experiences. She’s a strong individual who conquered multiple barriers to become the woman she is now. As a social worker, she’s a champion for other people. I admired her and found her completely relatable. She appears at peace with her life, yet, tones of unfulfillment and longing permeate her chapters. I couldn’t help but wonder if she was happy.

Luke, on the other hand, didn’t make my heart flutter as much as he infuriated me; thus derailing some of my excitement over their reunion. It’s not until he sees Libby that he begins to recognize why he’s returned home. In all the time he’s been gone, he’s never thought about her, and he failed to let her know he was back. Luke’s change of heart was too sudden, and I was unconvinced of his feelings (or maybe I refused to be convinced). And yes, I am bitter about it for Libby. This was my main source of discontent with the story, but it wasn’t enough to override how much I enjoyed the book.

Libby and Luke are often in their minds assessing their feelings and the situations they find themselves in rather than talking to each other. Their lack of communication eventually led to a misunderstanding, but it did not frustrate me because it made sense here. They’re no longer close friends, and their history makes it difficult to share their feelings. I was also more forgiving because I was completely immersed in the feelings the story ignited–I was too busy feeling. Liberty’s pain felt like it was my own, and I reveled in Luke’s belated heartache.

There’s also ample opportunity for the story to go astray, especially due to Libby’s and Luke’s line of work, but Baines never falls into this trap. There is no unnecessary angst. Everything that happens has a purpose, moving the story along and setting up encounters between Luke and Libby to help reestablish their connection. I never felt like my feelings were manipulated with unnecessary twists. The focus stays on our central couple and their individual attempts to reconcile their feelings toward each other. I loved how the tension just kept building, finally coming to a head in the third act. It was a third act I liked.

Although this is Luke and Libby’s romance, there are several secondary characters with fleshed-out backstories that contributed to a well-rounded story. Libby’s Aunt Sarah is one character I particularly liked. She doesn’t apologize for being herself and could care less about what people think of her. Some of my favorite moments are those between Libby and Aunt Sarah. Due to their respective situations with love, they understand each other in ways others might not. Their talk of the French Riveria was what ultimately broke me.   

If you’re expecting a fast-paced novel with a couple that races towards the sunset, this isn’t the book. The pace is slow, contemplative even, and filled with inner monologues and unreciprocated feelings that will splay your heart like it did mine. If you’re looking for an emotional friends-to-lovers second chance romance, You Didn’t Love Me Then is the perfect choice.

{audiobook} Subversive (2020)

by Colleen Cowley
ASIN/ISBN: B08GYLTKNZ
Publication: September 27, 2020
Series: Clandestine Magic Trilogy #1

Book review

Narrated by: Leanne Woodward
Release date: June 23, 2021
Length: 11 hrs and 57 mins

**I was provided access to the audiobook through the author. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Peter Blackwell returns to his former hometown Ellicott Mills to serve as the town’s resident wizard, an omnimancer to help with illnesses or other problems that may arise in the town. Requiring an assistant, he manages to steal Beatrix Harper from her current place of employment (against her wishes). Although initially adverse to the idea, Beatrix agrees to help him, not realizing that helping Peter will require her to break the law because he didn’t exactly return home to just be an omnimancer.

I’ve gushed about the Clandestine Magic Trilogy as being one of my favorite trilogies in 2020. It was about time for a reread it when I found out about the audiobook. I don’t typically listen to audiobooks because I’m picky about narrators, and audiobooks take longer than if I read the book myself. I don’t mind audiobooks as rereads though. I immensely enjoyed the audiobook Subversive.

Subversive is the perfect blend of everything I love: historical fiction, fantasy, and romance. As a student of political science, I thought Cowley captured perfectly the distribution of power as it relates to women’s rights and those without magic, or typics. Those with magic hold an inordinate amount of authority as compared to those without magic and women have fewer rights compared to men. Wizards and men try to maintain their power by ensuring women remain without it. This serves as the backdrop to Peter’s return to his hometown and his employment of Beatrix. The reread reminded me why Beatrix and Peter make the perfect duo and remain one of my favorite couples.

While I initially listened to the audiobook at its normal speed, I eventually increased it to 1.1x its normal speed. Because I usually talk fast, this was a perfect speed and sounded more natural to me in both pace and tone. Once I got comfortable with the speed, it was easy enough to enjoy the narration. Through Leanne Woodward’s narration, Cowley’s magnetic storytelling comes to life. Woodward is the perfect narrator, and I don’t think I would have been able to finish the audiobook had I not liked her narration. Her enunciation is perfect, and her voice is clear. Characters are distinguished through different voices, which I liked a lot. Even with multiple female characters, each voice is distinct from the other so it’s easy to tell the individuals apart. For instance, Beatrix’s voice sounds closer to the narrator whereas Beatrix’s sister Lydia has a softer voice and is higher in pitch. Aside from the voices, I especially enjoyed the variation in intonation to exhibit an array of emotions. One of my favorite displays of this is when Beatrix first realizes what Peter has planned for her.  Woodward’s anguish as Beatrix called to me and broke my heart just like when I first read it.

I hope Leanne Woodward remains the narrator for the rest of the books. I already have Radical, book two in the trilogy, lined up as my next listen.

Romance Interlude 2.12


Air (2016)
by L.B. Gilbert
ASIN/ISBN: B01LYND5D7
Publication: November 28, 2016
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Elementals #2


One liner: Werewolf Connell tracks down Air elemental Logan because he thinks she stole his ability to shift but there is more going on here than expected.

Air was completely unexpected. Gilbert presents a paranormal romance between a were and an elemental, a human imbued with the power of air. Connell is an annoying alpha male, with his whole “you’re my woman, I must claim you” deal. I liked Logan immediately for being badass. She doesn’t just get mad, she also gets even. The mate concept is present here but at least there’s some questioning of whether they’re imagining it or not. It’s also just executed a lot better. I tried to overlook it, and for the most part I did since I liked the storyline more than in the book below, but it still sat there in the back of my mind, taunting me. (Gilbert and Lereoux are the same person. Different names just signal the level of steam. I really wished Air had been the one with more steam…heh)


Eat You Up (2019)
by Lucy Lereoux
ASIN/ISBN: 9781942336635
Publication: November 15, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: A Shifter’s Claim #2

One liner: Werewolf Dmitri unexpectedly finds his mate Nina while they’re both on a plane to Boston.

Dmitri is another alpha male (ergh…) and he becomes a caveman around Nina. He smells Nina when she boards the plane. BAM! He knows they’re mates and meant to be. They have a one night stand almost immediately except Dmitri refuses to let it be a one night stand because they’re supposed to be together forever. A lot more things happen since Dmitri is there to steal a necklace and the job ends up being a bit more than he bargained for. Dmitri and Nina have a lot of chemistry but their relationship reminded me why I stayed away from paranormal romances for a long while–two people meet and they’re meant to be because they’re soulmates. There’s no getting to know period, it’s just we’re meant to be and end of question. This whole idea of mates and knowing immediately that they belong together is one that I enjoyed when I was younger but now I need a bit more substance to the relationship before it becomes forever. It wasn’t enough for me to stop reading the book, but it was just always there in the back of my mind. I was not a fan of how it ended.


Night Revelations
by Godiva Glenn
ASIN/ISBN: B07PN6PZYJ
Publication: January 15, 2018
Series: Night Wolves #1
Goodreads Summary

One liner: Werewolf Damon meets werewolf Charlotte during a job and brings her back to be part of his pack because she doesn’t have one.

The book is slow. Charlotte’s character is very timid and also bland. She doesn’t do much but worry about her role in the pack–makes sense since she is the newbie here–and wonder whether Damon likes her or not. Damon keeps giving mixed signals–which frustrated me–so she starts a relationship with someone else. I couldn’t blame her for trying to move on, and she seemed to genuinely like Wyatt, who had no problem making it known he was interested. I dislike these love triangles and didn’t know the book would have one. It wasn’t entirely bad but would have been fine without it. The book has a predictable storyline. It’s really just a new adult novel with a paranormal disguise. I gave it the three stars because I’m glad it ended the way it did.

Me (Moth) (2021)

by Amber McBride
ASIN/ISBN: 9781250780362
Publication: August 17, 2021

After losing her family in an accident, Moth switches schools to live with her Aunt Jack. It isn’t until she meets Sani that she finally feels seen and heard because he’s going through similar issues of his own, feeling alone and as though no one understands him. They decide to go on a road trip to better understand their heritage.

Written in verse, I was wrapped in the emotions and the images the book evoked. Not a single word is wasted or used to merely fill empty space. It forced me to feel every word. The words reached out and calmed my restlessness but also wound themselves deeper into the crevices of my thoughts as they pushed me to examine my present by embracing my own ancestral heritage alongside Moth and Sani.

My heart hurt. It hurt for Moth, for her survivor’s guilt, for believing her will to live was so great and she was too greedy to leave enough for the rest of her family to also survive. It hurt for Sani, for all he endured and was still currently enduring, for feeling like it was his fault, as though he was able to control the actions of those around him.

Me (Moth) is about self-acceptance, learning from the past and where we come from to understand who we are today. It’s about trying to find where home is and learning what it means to live again when it feels like those we love are all gone. But, even in death, those who love us never truly abandon us. As ancestors, they continue to guide us.

Me (Moth) is so many things, including one of my best reads this year.

Before I Saw You (2021)

by Emily Houghton
ASIN/ISBN: 9781982149505
Publication: May 4, 2021

**I received a copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own. **

Alfie and Alice share a ward in St. Francis’s Hospital, both recovering from traumatic accidents. While Alfie is sociable and can hardly prevent himself from talking to anyone he meets, Alice prefers to remain silent and hidden by her curtains. Although she is initially annoyed with Alfie’s attempts at conversation, little by little he draws her out enough that she begins to look forward to conversations with him. From disgruntled roommates (at least on the part of Alice) and then to becoming friends, their relationship begins to feel like something more all without ever seeing each other.

The experience of reading Before I Saw You for the first time is one that I will be unable to replicate. Even if I reread it somewhere down the line, it’s unlikely that the first time Alice speaks to Alfie will be as exciting. And that ending, that damned ending, will not hit me the same way. I mean, I don’t know if I will ever feel about it the way I do right this moment because for some books, there’s nothing like the first time. I’m currently basking in the loveliness of this novel. If I could, I’d like to bottle up what I’m feeling so that I can feel this way whenever I wanted. My one regret is that I waited so long to read it. It’s an absolute gem.

If you’re looking for something exciting, this isn’t going to be the book that will satisfy that search. The book is slow and might even be perceived as repetitive, but oh how I savored the inner dialogue and the connection between Alfie and Alice. This is a moving, character driven story that follows two people in need of healing and unexpectedly finding solace in each other, all the while separated by a curtain and never laying eyes on one other. It’s an uplifting story of the power of the human spirit and the connections we make that can help us thrive even in trauma.

Alfie, with his generally cheery attitude and talkative nature, is like the sun with its gravitational pull, grabbing hold of the people around him and pulling them into his orbit. No one can really help it because he’s affable and genuinely enjoys making human connections. Even I wasn’t immune from it. I have to commend Houghton for capturing his personality so well, for making his excitement so infectious that he immediately brightened my mood as well. I was so happy at how happy he was when Alice spoke to him for the first time.

Alice, on the other hand, is his opposite with her dislike of socializing, preferring instead to keep to herself and having just her best friend. The accident adds to her insecurities. Although Alfie is immediately likeable, Alice is the one that spoke to me, shattering me in several places throughout the book. Although she tries to resist, eventually she is also pulled into Alfie’s orbit. They become friends, but more than that they become confidantes, sharing things they would rarely, if at all, tell anyone else. I loved how their relationship developed and the eventual change they inspire in each other.

Houghton had me chuckling one moment and near tears the next. Alfie and Alice would share these significant pieces of themselves that ripped my heart out, and then the most sarcastic thing would come out of their mouths. These are my kind of characters, and if they were real, they’d be my kind of people. Having been inside their heads so long, it felt like I was saying goodbye to friends. The book is a slow read that requires immersing yourself in this difficult period in Alfie’s and Alice’s lives, to connect with them as they connect with each other. I adored the book.

The One and Only Sparkella (2021)

by Channing Tatum
Illustrated by Kim Barnes
ASIN/ISBN: 9781250750754
Publication: May 4, 2021

**I received a copy of the book from the publisher. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Sparkella_sparkle

Ella, or Sparkella as she likes to be called, isn’t nervous at all about her first day at a new school. She is unapologetically herself with her glitter, her shimmers, and her sparkles. A rough first day leads Sparkella to revert to being “normal,” but she feels even worse. After helping her dad out with his own rough day, Sparkella decides she’d rather continue to be herself.

The One and Only Sparkella is an endearing book about embracing your individuality. It’s especially sweet because her dad plays an active role in encouraging her to be herself. He not only supports her individuality and sense of fashion, he sparkles right along with her. The illustrations are as whimsical and enchanting as Sparkella. I read this with my niece and she adored the book. We both recommend it!

Today Tonight Tomorrow (2020)

by Rachel Lynn Solomon
ASN/ISBN: 9781534440241
Publication: July 14, 2020

**May contain spoilers. Please proceed with caution.**

When Neil is announced as the school’s valedictorian, it puts a dent in Rowan’s diabolical daydream of having him finally bow to her as the more formidable opponent. Now, she has only one last chance to beat him, the school’s annual scavenger hunt for graduating seniors known as the Howl. The competition takes an unexpected turn when she finds out a group of seniors are out to eliminate both her and Neil, turning the academic rivals into an unlikely team. Spending time working with each other as opposed to against one another has Rowan reevaluating her perception of Neil, seeing him in a different (possibly more rosy-colored) light.

As a fan of Sleepless in Seattle, Rachel Lynn Solomon had me at Seattle but my adoration of the book is all Solomon’s doing. “It was like…magic” mixed with a hefty dose of nostalgia when I first read it last summer. It remained much the same when I reread it recently. During my first reading, words evaded me when I tried writing a review. Even months after, I was unable to express how I felt about my best read of 2020. As May comes around with graduation ceremonies abound, I finally found the words to write something coherent.

Today Tonight Tomorrow completely and unexpectedly overwhelmed me. It felt like I was thrown back into high school. I was flooded with nostalgia as I simultaneously lived Rowan’s last day of high school and recalled celebrating my last days–mine was nowhere near as exciting as the Howl but I did get one last hurrah with friends.

Rowan and Neil were well-rounded characters. We learn about their hopes, dreams, and fears. I couldn’t help but adore them as they turned from rivals into an unexpected team. Initially, they have a one-dimensional relationship due to their rivalry but teaming up forces them into a different relationship that allows them to discover different sides of the other. While the events of the book take place in the span of 24 hours, the feelings that blossom in a single night don’t feel new at all–just newly uncovered. The feelings have been nurtured throughout their rivalry, and the layers of their relationship are now being peeled back, or maybe more accurately ripped off like a bandaid considering the time frame. With the book told strictly from Rowan’s point of view, it was entertaining to observe her thoughts and feelings, to see the different stages of her discovery, and to witness her initial shock that (gasp!) Neil is a person with feelings (I’m completely exaggerating here), that he could be someone she would feel anything other than antagonism toward. It was deeply satisfying.

There are so many things I admire about Rowan, including her passion and drive to go after what she wants (like bringing Neil down). One of my favorite scenes is when her friends tell her that for someone she dislikes, Neil occupies an alarming amount of her thoughts and time. Rowan thinks they’re clearly out of their minds for suggesting she feels anything beyond wanting to take him down. I couldn’t help but also agree that her friends were onto something. I also admire her commitment to her writing aspirations, which leads to Rowan explaining her love of romance novels. I agree with her assessment of the genre and the less than warm reception it generally receives. Solomon, through Rowan, helped me be comfortable with my love for romance novels even as my friends cringed when I (cautiously) confessed my undying love for the genre.

In an interview, she says the book is an homage/a love letter to Seattle. What a love letter it is! I’ve never been to Seattle, but I’ve always wanted to visit one day. Solomon created a sense of urgency to visit the rainy city, as though I should have done it yesterday. She does a tremendous job creating a sense of place with the vivid descriptions of the many places, both touristy spots and hidden gems, throughout Seattle. All this is possible because Solomon isn’t just a writer, she’s a conjurer of images and feelings, able to stir my long-forgotten memories of high school to life and make Rowan and Neil feel alive.

Today Tonight Tomorrow solidified Solomon as an automatic buy author for me. If you’re still wondering if I recommend Today Tonight Tomorrow, then I haven’t done a good job of divulging my love for this novel. I hope you’re itching to read it, even if you’ve already read it before. It’s my chef’s kiss of 2020!

To deal with the feelings you might have after finishing the book (book coma anyone?), here’s a short list of things that might help. I wish I had prepared them in advance. You know what they–whoever they are–say, “Hindsight is always 20/20.”

GRADUATiON PLAYLiST

YouTube | Spotify

Eyes that Kiss in the Corner (2021)

by Joanna Ho
Illustrated by Dung Ho
ASN/ISBN: 9780062915627
Publication: January 5, 2021

This is the book I needed when I was growing up. My eyes were an attribute I was very insecure about because they were just one of many things other kids teased me about. Eyes that Kiss in the Corner highlights the uniqueness, the beauty of eyes that look like mine. They’re special because they reflect those of my parent’s, passed from one generation to the next. They are “eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” They “crinkle into crescent moons and sparkle like the stars.” The book impaled my heart with such warmth and positivity. If only someone had described my eyes as such when I was younger, it would have made a world of difference. Eyes that Kiss in the Corner celebrates diversity and promotes self-love. It’s not just about acceptance, but appreciating yourself just the way you are.

Christmas Playlist 2020: Last Christmas

I’ve been busy with school and finals so I haven’t been able to post as much as I’d like. I’ve been wanting to do something holiday related other than participating in the Reindeer Readathon and reading a few Christmas centric books. Here is my holiday playlist along with a related bookish discussion that fits the the track. I nearly forgot I also signed up for Bookending Winter 2020 and it also works well with the event. (See: Fictionally Sam & Cuppa Clo)

Track 01: Wham! – Last Christmas

This is an 80’s contemporary that is now a classic. I’m not sure about elsewhere but at least in the U.S., I don’t think you can really go anywhere without hearing it come on at least once a day during the holiday season. This ranks at the top for me. It’s one of my favorite songs to listen to. A few years ago, I had a playlist consisting of the original and its many covers. I think my family and whoever caught a ride with me wanted to strangle me that December. While multiple artists have covered it, from Ariana Grande to Taylor Swift, nothing quite hits like the original.

When I think of “Last Christmas”, I think of two types of books: 1) contemporaries turned classics and 2) books that ultimately broke me.

A BOOK THAT BECAME A CLASSIC

Merriam-Webster defines classic as “serving as a standard of excellence; of recognized value.” Often, it’s quality is judged over time. Books I love, those I often measure other books against are what I deem classics and not necessarily what book critics tell me are classics, although there might be times when there is overlap. Being a serial rereader, I know I love a book when I can reread it. When I think of a book that carries this title, there is really only one that immediately comes to mind.


Green Rider (2000)
by Kristen Britain
ISBN: 9780886778583
Publication: April 1, 2000
Goodreads Summary
Series: Green Rider #1

This book has all the goodness of medieval fantasy. I’ve read it nearly ever year since I first read it years ago. Karigan Gladheon is stubborn, tenacious, and loyal. These qualities are what allow her to deliver the message that she receives from a dying green rider and ultimately help her make it through what ends up being a perilous adventure. There is a hint of romance but it’s not developed until later books in the series. While I’ve reread the series multiple times, this remains the best book in the series. While not all questions are answered by the end of the book, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. If you don’t want to read the rest of the series (which is still not complete), you are safe to do so. The First Rider’s Call (Green Rider #2) and The High King’s Tomb (Green Rider #3) are also pretty good. Book #7 is slated for publication in 2021.

BOOKS THAT BROKE ME

“Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away

Despite being upbeat, the song is about unrequited love. There are a few types of books that fit in this category but I want to focus on two. There are books I thought I would love but didn’t necessarily measure up to expectations. Then, there are those that I loved and broke my heart anyway. Either way, I loved them and they couldn’t love me back!!


Midnight Valentine (2018)
by J.T. Geissinger
ISBN: 9780996935838
Publication: February 6, 2018
Goodreads Summary
Series: N/A

I really love this book, and I also like J.T. Geissinger. After her husband dies in an accident, Megan moves to the town where they had planned to open a bed-and-breakfast. She’s never moved on after his death. Then, she meets Theo, who stopped speaking after an accident left him scarred both physically and mentally. The book deals with grief but also finding second chances. It was nearly a 5-star book for me but the ending left me conflicted; I couldn’t decide if the ending was a fair one for Theo. It’s still a good book though. If you’ve read this, you have to let me know what you thought of the ending.


The Sun is also a Star (2016)
by Nicola Yoon
ISBN: 9780553496680
Publication: November 1, 2016
Goodreads Summary
Series: N/A

I’m a romantic. I love love. Love makes me swoon. I read The Sun is Also A Star as my team read for Tropeical Readathon and it broke me. I always wanted to write a review but couldn’t find the words…I was too busy bawling. I’m back and forth on insta-love. I’m not the biggest fan of it in books but, as an author pointed out, sometimes all it takes is a glance. And, sometimes, it can take years. There’s insta-love here but it works so well. I spent at least 5 minutes crying my eyes out after I finished this book. I highlighted so many passages. That ending had so many onions, my eyes stung. (I love onions by the way.)

What books do you consider classics, whether it’s one you love and reread or just exemplary of a genre you enjoy? What books have broken your heart?

Here are links to a few of my favorite covers of “Last Christmas”:
1sagain (Korean)
Good Charlotte
Carly Rae Jepsen
Savage Garden
Meghan Trainor


Bonus:
Here’s a Spotify playlist with over 100 covers of the song, CLICK!
(Yes, you may silently judge me…hahaha) Just in case you, here’s a 1-hour loop of the original, CLICK!

Subversive (2020)

by Colleen Cowley
ASN: B08GYLTKNZ
Publication date: September 27, 2020
Series: Clandestine Magic Trilogy #1


Get it here: Amazon
For more details (like content warnings), click here.

**I was provided a copy of the book by the author. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own. (If you’re wondering, the book is superb!)**

Peter Blackwell returns to his former hometown Ellicott Mills to serve as the town’s resident wizard, an omnimancer to help with illnesses or other problems that may arise in the town.  Requiring an assistant, he manages to steal Beatrix Harper from her current place of employment (against her wishes).  Although initially adverse to the idea, Beatrix agrees to help him, not realizing that helping Peter will require her to break the law because he didn’t exactly return home to just be an omnimancer.

There’s something to be said about reading a book you hope is going to be good and have it meet your expectations, possibly even exceed them. Reading Subversive was one of the best experiences I had all year. It felt like all my favorite genres—fantasy, romance, regency (not a real genre I know…but it’s historical but yet not and I get regency vibes from it )–melded into one.  I had a difficult time trying to figure out that something to say, how I might capture how wonderful it is in a blog post—the answer is that I couldn’t but still tried.

Cowley’s magnetic storytelling and distinct magic system had me enamored with the book and its characters. The social system and the political system are reflective of the present United States but this somewhat dystopian U.S. lags in women’s rights—women don’t have any.  Okay, they have limited rights but it feels more like no rights at all. For instance, women have a curfew, and single women are not allowed to be alone with single men or else their reputations will be tarnished. The lack of women’s rights and the privilege that comes from having magical abilities serves as a compelling backdrop to the events that unfold. The book poses multiple questions, and among them is the question of what those in power will do to stay in power. 

I immediately liked Beatrix upon meeting her.  Family is everything to her, and she is determined that her sister has opportunities she never had, even though it can lead to resentment and go unappreciated at times. She isn’t infallible.  She can be stubborn and doesn’t have a problem speaking her mind or apologizing when she has erred.

Peter is a bit harder to figure out because it isn’t immediately clear what his motivations are. What is clear, though, is that he knows exactly what he is doing when he hires Beatrix, and it isn’t because he is just a nice wizard trying to help her out.  The relationship that blossoms from their work arrangement is a complicated one and kept me turning the pages.

I cannot emphasize how much I enjoyed it!  It felt like stepping into a Jane Austen novel in an alternate 21st century made extra complicated by the presence of magic. I wasn’t always able to predict what was going to happen next. I both loved and hated how it kept me on my toes just as I thought I had it figured out. I kept wanting to skip to the end so I wouldn’t be so anxious about what was going to happen next. I didn’t but I really wanted to. It’s perfect for fans of romantic fantasy with strong, capable women fighting for what they believe in.