Morgan has had a giant crush on Rory fucking Sandler for … well, forever. Rory is one of the most talented witches ever, a spell casting champion, beautiful, intimidating, cool, and just so much more. And ever since Rory’s come to Harborage and taken work as a bartender, Morgan can’t seem to get away from her. First, she works at the best bar in town, the one Morgan and her friends regularly go to. She’s also become friends with Morgan’s friends, which means Morgan sees Rory almost every day, and every day she struggles to have the courage to say something witty, clever ,or brilliant to catch Rory’s attention.
Why is it her drunken, not-brilliant idea of being Rory’s fake girlfriend for the festival is the one that Morgan finally comes up with? Rory has retired from spell casting, but her family can’t seem to understand that. They want Rory to get back to work, and have brought Archer, a ‘sorcerer’ — a male witch who self-identifies with a fancy title — to encourage her. Rory finds the idea of having Morgan as a buffer a good one, and soon it’s the two of them setting up rules, coming to agreements, and Morgan being introduced to Rory’s family.
Everything is wonderful, magical even. Until Morgan makes a horrifying realization. She has inadvertently given Rory a love potion rather than a potion to help with Rory’s stress. Now, Morgan is analyzing every touch of hands, every laugh, every moment of happiness. She has to find some way to break this spell without, hopefully, breaking her growing friendship with Rory.
Morgan is a witch with self-confidence issues. Her last girlfriend left her because she had no real ambitions beyond working in her family shop, where they sell magical body and bath products, and staying in Harborage. That, and Morgan’s ability to overthink herself into a knot given a half-moment alone with her thoughts and her tendency to spiral into self-doubt and insecurity. Morgan makes potions, working more through inspiration and instinct than calculated measurements, and getting lost in her feelings comes easy to her.
Rory comes from a successful, influential family of witches. From an early age, she was trained and trained hard to succeed in spell craft, to enter competitions, and to win. She came up with brilliant tricks that other witches struggled — and still struggle — to duplicate, and her fans and sponsors are still eagerly waiting for her to come back. It’s a lot of pressure, a lot of stress, and a lot of attention. Rory isn’t brittle or jaded or even broken, she’s just … tired. The pressure, the weight of other people’s expectations, and her own need to please pushed her harder and harder until she realized that she wasn’t happy, so she stepped aside.
The two women have such very different approaches to the world. Rory is a plotter, a planner. Someone who takes time to think and reason and make lists. Morgan’s “do first, think later” approach to life, open to every opportunity, comes as a bit of a surprise to Rory. Seeing the other woman get right in Archer’s face to get him to back off of Rory, or to smack down another male witch trying to explain magic to Rory is .. flattering. Morgan, when she’s with Rory, is nothing like the quiet, distant woman at their friend group meet ups. While playing fake girlfriends, the two of them are quickly become real friends.
The world building here is excellent. The author has put a great deal of thought into the whys and why nots of magic. Yes, scrying works … but so does google; and often faster. We learn about the relationships between non-magical people and witches, and how this affects romances and children. Also, the status of men in the community, as male witches are a minority in an already small group of women, is kind of hilarious. They’re both seen as prizes for their rarity, and given praise for the smallest things … as well as not expected to be all that great because they’re just men. The purpose of covens, the way society shapes itself around magic and witches, and even how and why Rory’s magic is as powerful as it is… there’s just so much attention to detail and I loved every bit of it.
The love potion aspect of the plot is well handled — all of the issues with consent and bodily autonomy — and leads into my most hated part of a romance book, the third act breakup. However, everything is so well put together, so carefully arranged that it never feels forced, and everything flows well with the characters and the established rules of the world. Morgan’s horror, her confusion, every action she takes after discovering what she has done are so very Morgan. Nothing in this book feels as if it’s done just for plot purposes, nothing feels contrived or calculated.
This book is sweet and charming and just … fun. I was in a bit of a mood when I started reading this book, but I soon found myself actually smiling as I read it, especially any time Morgan and Rory were on page together. It’s also beautifully romantic. It’s easy to see Morgan falling for Rory, as the book is from her point of view, but — looking at the actions and reactions from Rory, which Morgan misses as often as she catches, too caught up in her own nerves — it’s clear Rory is falling, and falling hard for Morgan, too. The glitter fight was wonderful; Lilith, Rory’s familiar, is appropriately adorable; and even Rory’s family are fun.
This book should be an auto buy for anyone who loves witches, romances, and happily ever afters. This appears to be the author’s debut work, and it’s a great one. The writing is strong, the world is wonderful, and the pace is perfect. So are the characters. I really, really hope you give this book a chance.