in charms way coverRating: 3.75 stars
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Length: Novel

 

It’s been six months since Delilah Harlow was hit by a magical spell that took her memory. Her family and friends have worked tirelessly to help undo the spell, and Delilah has made progress, but her mind is still not the same as it once was. Delilah prided herself on her sharp mind and now she finds herself suddenly forgetting words to spells and even struggling to recognize basic objects. Delilah is just so angry and frustrated and nothing seems to be making it any better. So she makes a desperate and risky move by attempting a dangerous blood magic spell in an attempt to heal her mind.

The spell works and Delilah feels sharp and her brain seems healed and she is thrilled. That is until she is attacked by one nasty magical being after another and realizes she has somehow become a beacon for a host of dangerous creatures that are now infiltrating the town of Thistle Grove. Fortunately, Delilah seems to have some help on her side in the form of sexy stranger, Catriona Quinn. Cat is a half-fae and a monster hunter. She knows all about the big bad creatures who are after Delilah and helps to protect Delilah from the attacks. The women realize Delilah’s healing spell has somehow gone awry and they need to figure out a way to stop the appearance of these dangerous creatures. Part of Delilah is wary about trusting Cat, but Cat is there for her at every turn.

Soon, the women find themselves connecting and falling for one another. Cat may be a bit on the morally gray side, but she is also tough and strong and confident. And as Delilah struggles with her own anger about what has happened to her, Cat helps her find an outlet for those feelings. However, figuring out how to stop the constant attacks is not easy. And as Delilah learns more about some of the secrets of Thistle Grove, and more about what is really going on with her magic and the threats on her life, she may not be happy about all she discovers.

In Charm’s Way is the fourth book in Lana Harper’s Witches of Thistle Grove series. I have really been enjoying this series and the engaging inhabitants of this witchy town. Each story does feature a new couple, but some of the larger plot threads and many of the characters carry from book to book. So while you could probably read these as standalones, you are best served by following the series. In the case of this story, that is particularly important as Nina Blackwell’s magical attack on Delilah happens at the end of the third book, Back in a Spell, and that plays a big role in shaping Delilah here.

A lot of this book is focused on the aftermath of the attack and Delilah’s understandable anger, frustration, and rage at what happened to her. She is a record keeper and a historian and suddenly she cannot trust her own mind. It lets her down time and again and nothing she is doing seems to be bringing it back to the way it was. I think Harper does such a good job here putting us inside Delilah’s head and really letting us feel all the emotion that drives her (often very poor) decisions. This is a story about anger and working through it and coming out the other side, but there is a very messy middle where Delilah seems to make one bad choice after another, starting with undertaking this dangerous blood magic spell in the first place. As a reader, I often found myself frustrated with Delilah and her decisions, but I could understand them. I also think we see some nice growth from her over the course of the book, which I appreciated.

I found Cat an interesting character, but I think the relationship development was the weaker part of the story. I could totally see the bad girl allure, particular for Delilah, who has been so structured and behaved her whole life and suddenly is thrown all out of sorts and is enjoying a little acting out. But I just never really settled into things between the two of them and I think a lot of the real emotional connection between them happens off page and is recounted, rather than really showing it on page. The two also have a serious conflict and the resolution felt unsatisfying to me, particularly given the nature of the misdeeds.

Spoiler title
Delilah is a woman suffering because someone manipulated her mind, then Cat comes along and, even knowing all that, lies to her and manipulates her feelings and I felt like she was forgiven way too easily.
I needed a lot more in terms of the resolution to make it work for me. I did like the way Cat’s backstory opens up some new elements of the larger world building, as well as how we learn more about the lore of Thistle Grove here.

One last note is about the story distribution across the series. There are four founding families and three of them have already been featured in a story as the POV character. I assumed this book would therefore have a Thorn family POV, but here we are back to the Harlow’s again without giving the Thorns a featured story. I get why Delilah’s story makes sense following Back in a Spell, but from what I understand based on the teaser for the next book, that one doesn’t have a Thorn POV either. One of the things I like about this series is seeing how the different families have different magical affinities and family dynamics and so it seems a shame to be leaving out the Thorns (particularly as they are the only family that is primarily people of color). I am not sure if the next book is the end of the series, but I would love a Thorn story at some point soon.

I did enjoy this book overall and really liked being back in the world of Thistle Grove. This relationship wasn’t my favorite connection of the series, but I appreciated the chance to see Delilah find her way again in the aftermath of the attack, as well as the way it opened up some of the larger world building. It appears we have at least one more book coming out and I am looking forward to more.

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