The Witch Is Back

Harlequin. Aug. 2023. 368p. ISBN 9781335476043. pap. $18.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Emmaline Bluewater has always been shy and serious. But after the warlock she was supposed to marry fled, the wallflower witch remade her life in the mundane human world. Now she co-owns and runs a Chicago bar called Toil and Trouble with her two best friends. When her runaway fiancé Bastian Truenote comes back to fulfill the terribly binding contract of their arranged marriage, Emma is no longer easily charmed by her childhood sweetheart. However, to avoid a cursed engagement clause and navigate witch high society expectations, they decide on a marriage of convenience despite the bothersome lingering feelings and attraction between them. Strong prose and fun banter make Emma and Bastian’s story enjoyable, and it’s made more endearing by incredibly loyal chosen family and sweet animal familiars offering emotional support. Although a modern paranormal world with aspects of social order is an interesting setup, Emma’s power-hungry Wicked Witch mother comes across as a stereotypical antagonist. Still, the high-stakes secrets and reveals lead to satisfying moments that make the plot sweet and magical.
VERDICT Morgan (His Command) distinguishes her steamy witch rom-com with impressive twists on romance tropes that will bewitch fans of the genre.
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