This seasonal read was highly promoted by Book of the Month, making it the only reason that I purchased it. I knew it would be a Halloween-themed romance, which is not my favorite genre, but I tried it. It was not a total waste of time, but not one I would recommend.
The story opens with Vivienne Jones nursing a broken heart after her breakup with Rhys Penhallow. Vivi is living in Graves Glen, Georgia with her aunt, Elaine, and her cousin, Gwyn. They are descents of local witches. Rhys Penhallow is also a descendent of an ancient witch family, and a real heartthrob in town. Vivi is trying the regular broken heart therapies – bubble bath, vodka drink, and casting a fake curse on Rhys with Gwyn – or is it fake?
Fast forward nine years and the reader will find Vivienne as a history professor at local Penhaven College. The college has a secret campus for magical students, called the Witchery Department (insert eye roll or face slap here), but Vivi teaches ‘regular’ history. She is known for catching liars and cheaters in her classroom.
Rhys settled in Wales with his father and two brothers and runs a remarkably successful travel business. Rhys’s trips have a reputation of running smoothly and always having the best weather. Rhys’s father, Simon, is sending Rhys back to Graves Glen during the Halloween Founder’s Day celebration to strengthen the ley lines, a magical artery in the hills outside of town that fuel the town’s witches and good fortune. Of course, Rhys remembers his brief but passionate time with Vivi nine years ago and is reluctant to return. His plan is to attend the Founder’s Day celebration, make a speech, take care of the ley lines, and fly back to Wales. Easy right?
Well, it wouldn’t be much of a story if Rhys and Vivi didn’t cross paths. They bump into each other at the festival and Rhys invites Vivi to come with him to see they ley lines, which she accepts. Hearts skip a beat and passion rekindles almost immediately between the two. While in the caves, something goes wrong with the ley lines, which become corrupted and explode toward town. Now these two must figure out what went wrong and how to return the ley lines back to normal.
During their time together, Rhys and Vivi learn more about each other and about the history of their families in Graves Glen. They encounter an angry ghost in the college library that has been trapped in a candle for decades. They also learn that Vivi’s ancestors had a larger part in the town’s history than what was originally thought and that their families are connected in an unfortunate way. It turns out that Rhys’ ancestor, Gryffud, drained Vivi’s ancestor of her magic to create the ley lines and make himself more powerful. Rhys and Vivi must use magic more powerful than they have used before to set things right for both families and to keep the town safe, all the while figuring out what to do with their rekindled affections.
This book had all the ingredients of a light-hearted seasonal read, kind of like Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, but my hopes of that kind of story were dashed within the first few chapters. The writing comes across as juvenile, probably an attempt to gain young adult readers, and the grammar is mediocre at best. There are indentations and paragraph breaks that disrupt the reading flow. Choice of words like ‘Witchery Department’ and ‘Lacrosse Cheaters’ demonstrate that little imagination is used for background or secondary details. Was there seriously no other name for the secret witchcraft department at the college? And is the entire lacrosse team (notice it is not capitalized here) are cheaters or are the cheaters in a club called Lacrosse Cheaters? Another attempt to engage young adult readers, and an indication that the plot itself cannot stand on its own, is the soft porn element the author uses in the second half of the book. I wasn’t expecting that in a book described as a light and seasonal read and was a little let down that this is what the author relies on to engage the reader.
Overall, this book is okay as long as you aren’t looking for any type of inspiration or motivational read. There are plenty of moments that I wanted to just put the book down and not finish it, but I got through it. Now I can just put it away for good.