Of witches and their hunters…Serpent & Dove, written by Shelby Mahurin | ARC review

Of witches and their hunters...Serpent & Dove, written by Shelby Mahurin | ARC review
Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent and dove by Shelby Mahurin

Publication date: September 3rd, 2019 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 528
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Buy:Book Depository | Wordery

Synopsis:

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

– My Thoughts –

“Wicked are the ways of women — and especially a witch”

I first read Serpent & Dove as an eARC and I was mesmerized by the way the author combined some of my favourite tropes – enemies to lovers romance, Marriage of Convenience – to create a wonderful fantasy set against the backdrop of 17th century France. 

After I got the physical ARC, I read it again and here are my final thoughts…

In the land of Belterra, witches are burned at the stake and the witch hunters or the Chasseurs along with their leader, the Archbishop are ruthless. Lou, a witch, has left her coven two years ago and is now trying to survive in the city of Cesarine either by lying, stealing or even killing. After remaining undetected for two years, a burglary goes wrong and it sets her past enemies after her. When Lou ends up in a “compromising” position with Captain (of the Chasseurs) Reid, the Archbishop comes up with a solution: go to prison for the rest of her life or marry Reid.

“Conscious of the Chasseurs’ eyes on me, I forced a smirk and bumped my husband’s hip, pretending that it’d all been a show. A laugh. That I’d just been goading him to get a reaction.

That I wasn’t a witch in Mass, standing amongst my enemies and worshipping someone else’s god.

Lou agrees to marry Reid, a witch-hunter, as he can also offer protection from those who are hunting her. Reid, despite his initial scorn towards Lou, agrees to marry her and protect her. 

It was fun seeing the progression of their relationship; their good-natured bickering and Reid slowly welcoming Lou into his life. This slow-burning romance climaxed into an explicit sex scene which made me wonder why it was categorized as YA. The characters act mature enough and the themes justify this book to be placed under NA rather than YA.

There wasn’t much world-building to speak of and this is what I missed during my first read. Sure, the writing is magical and so is the romance; there are well-placed plot twists and lots of well-timed action that made this book very addictive. However, it could have been more magical if there was good world-building at play. The magical system was very unique; some witches used blood while others offered some sort of sacrifice in exchange for using magic. Since this is the first book in a series, I have high hopes that the world is going to expand and we’re going to get a deeper look into the world of Lou and Reid.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book if you love enemies to lovers, slow-burn and marriage of convenience tropes; fantasy about witches set in 17th century France, smartass and badass female characters, amazing female friendships, morally grey characters, an intricate magical system, and engaging writing.

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

– About the Author –

Shelby Mahurin

Shelby Mahurin grew up on a small farm in rural Indiana, where sticks became wands and cows became dragons. Her rampant imagination didn’t fade with age, so she continues to play make-believe every day—with words now instead of cows. When not writing, Shelby watches the Office and obsesses over her Twitter feed. She still lives near that childhood farm with her very tall husband, semi-feral toddlers, two dogs, and one cat. 

Shelby’s favorite books include A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and, of course, Harry Potter.

Her debut novel, SERPENT & DOVE, will release from Harper Teen in Fall 2019, with a sequel to come the following year. She is represented by Sarah Landis of Sterling Lord Literistic.

For more about Shelby, visit her website and her Goodreads page, or follow her on Twitter.

Thank you for reading! Have you read Serpent & Dove? Is it on your wish-list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 

Review: The Unhoneymooners, written by Christina Lauren

Blog Tour: Three Days in Florence, written by Chrissie Manby | Review

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Publication date: May 14, 2019 
Publisher: Piatkus(US: Gallery Books)
Pages: 400
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Buy: Book Depository | Wordery

Synopsis:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

– My Thoughts –

“When I signed up for this honeymoon, I had no idea it would involve so much nudity…” 

I finally finished reading The Unhoneymooners, one of my anticipated read of 2019. I knew that I couldn’t NOT love it because it was a Christina Lauren book but I finished it with some mixed feelings. Let’s unpack..

The story starts with a wedding gone wrong. It was Olive’s sister Ami’s wedding and as if it weren’t bad enough that Olive has to spend the entire day with her sworn enemy Ethan, who happens to the best man, the entire wedding party except for Olive and Ethan then gets food poisoning. Since Ami had won her honeymoon in a contest, she doesn’t want it to go to waste and begs Olive to go instead of her. Now, Olive has to go on a fake honeymoon with a fake husband who is none other than Ethan.

They plan to stay far away from each other and enjoy their time in Maui but all their plans go haywire when they find out all the activities booked for them are for couples and on top of that, there are encounters with a new boss and an ex-girlfriend. What could go wrong with one bed, being fake newlyweds in a honeymoon destination with old and new acquaintances in proximity?

“An eight-hour flight, and there’s no movie,” I say to myself, glaring at the screenless seat back in front of me. “Maybe they’re hoping your life flashing in front of your eyes will be distraction enough.” 

Let’s talk about the positives first. I love a book with the combination of enemies to lovers + fake romance + forced proximity. The sexual tension is palpable and the banter between the characters is -as usual- brilliant. The situations they get into are downright hilarious and I had no trouble finishing the book in a day. However, I had problems with how the conflict unfolded between Ethan and Olive. Ethan was so blinded by his affection for his brother that he refused to cut Olive any slack. It broke my heart seeing Olive receive so much flak from her sister and Ethan and when the time came for resolution, I felt that Olive forgave too soon. Let’s talk about the positives first. I love a book with the combination of enemies

Overall, I would recommend this book if you are looking for a funny and relatable summer romance with a beautiful setting. If you’re a sucker for fake dating/marriage tropes with forced proximity, lots of drama, hilarious dialogues and great banter, then get your hands on this ASAP!!

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

– About the Author –

Christina Lauren

Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soulmates/brain-twins Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fourteen New York Times bestselling novels. Their books have been translated into 30+ languages. (Some of these books have kissing. Some of these books have A LOT of kissing.)

Website | Goodreads |  Twitter

Thank you for reading this far! Have you read The Unhoneymooners or is it on your TBR? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!