A delightful paranormal romance that balances a sweet and steamy romance with small-town magical shenanigans.
Vivienne Jones is nineteen years old when she meets Rhys Penhallow one magical summer in her small hometown of Graves Glen, Georgia. He’s here to take summer classes at the university close by, and the two embark on a whirlwind romance that ends abruptly after he confides in her that he has to return home to Wales. The reason? To break off the betrothal his father Simon is looking to arrange between Rhys and another properly vetted witch. Aghast at the thought of sleeping with a “claimed” man, Vivienne very loudly and angrily dumps him. Rhys goes back across the pond and a drunk Vivienne, with the help of her sympathetic cousin Gwyn, decides to exorcise all thought of Rhys with a joke curse. But Graves Glen isn’t the kind of place where curses, even joke ones, can be made lightly…
Nine years pass, and Vivienne is now a lecturer at the town’s Penhaven College. While she, Gwyn and her aunt Elaine fully embrace their witchy heritage, Vivi is still a little reluctant to hang out with the witch populace at large, so stays almost exclusively on the unmagical side of academia. She loves her job, tho, and has a fulfilling life hanging out with her family and friends, even if a few drinks too many will have her looking up one particular ex on social media from time to time.
Since being dumped by Vivi, said ex has done his best to get out of the shadow of his domineering father by setting up a successful travel agency, using his magic to smooth over the many little pitfalls that too often cause tourist complaints. When Simon demands that Rhys return to Graves Glen in order to recharge the ley lines, Rhys is reluctant, mostly because he still can’t get Vivi out of his head. But it’s been almost a decade, and as a member of Graves Glen’s founding family, it’s his responsibility. And so, unaware of any curse, to Georgia he returns, hoping for the best.
Things go awry almost from the very beginning of his arrival within town limits, but it’s his reunion with Vivi that leaves them both feeling entirely flustered. A series of near-death experiences soon make it clear that, despite Simon’s protests that the Penhallow line is simply too strong to be cursed, Vivi actually did manage to hex Rhys all that time ago. Worse, the spell is, in turn, doing bad things to the magic in Graves Glen. The former lovers will have to try to set aside any differences in order to lift the curse and save Graves Glen from certain doom, even as the sparks between them continue to fly, threatening to rekindle the flame all over again.
This was a very cute romance that, while frank, was neither too explicit nor spicy. This tone actually fit in nicely with the mostly light paranormalcy of the book otherwise, which was urban fantasy by way of romantic comedy: while the stakes are high, at no point do you actually think anyone is going to die. There are some interesting twists and turns, and the plot clips along briskly, making for a fast, fluffy read full of heart and humor. It isn’t the best thing I’ve ever read, but it is a superlative paranormal rom-com, and perfect for anyone needing a lighthearted, magical escapade.
The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling was published September 28 2021 by Avon and is available from all good booksellers, including