by Maggie Francis
Series: Eliza Falls #1
Publication Date: January 10, 2022
I received an advance review copy of this book from BookSprout. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
A witch with unpredictable powers and a Wolf desperate to claim her. Will she accept his love? Or will she destroy them both?
I’ve been very much enjoying small town paranormal romances lately, so when I saw the gorgeous cover, I simply had to try this one out. While it definitely met all those criteria, I wanted a bit more from the main couple.
Seb has known from his first few days in Eliza Falls that Cora, who runs a witchy-sort-of-boutique in town with her best friend, is his mate, but after a year he’s still not been able to do more than grunt at her. When the witches commission a new display for their store, Seb realizes this might be his chance to go from simply staring at Cora to actually trying to win his mate. Or maybe he’ll just further drive her away with his awkwardness?
“I realize that I like him looking dishevelled. Like he is a storm of movement and energy moving through the world.”
After years spent trying to find their missing parents, Seb and his brother Tate came to stay with their Aunt Jett, living in her carriage house and helping fix up the property in exchange. They’ve become known as good woodworkers in town, and suddenly have a booming business making furniture and cabinetry. Everything would be perfect if Seb could just get his wolf to calm down a bit around Cora. Instead of charming her like he wants, his wolf’s intensity basically leaves his unable to do anything but stare at her and then blush like a maniac when she catches him.
Cora’s not sure why the extremely hot hunk keeps glowering at her, but his bashfulness is adorable. Having him in her shop means that just maybe she’ll be able to figure out what’s up with him, even if it means she’ll have to be more careful about using her magic than usual. Cora and her best friend Desi are both witches. She’s an Earth witch (specializing in wind and fire) while Desi’s a spirit witch who excels at both customer service with a side of visions of the future. After a magical mishap as a kid (when she turned her hair permanently pink), her non-magical dad abandoned the family, leaving her with a lifelong fear of relationships because her magic is too much. Perhaps because of this, Cora’s magic isn’t fully under her control. Strong emotions especially lead to her hair blowing around in a magically caused wind or fire to heat up her palms. She feels especially pulled to Seb, meaning that she’s frequently excusing herself when she gets too worked up from being near him.
“Seb is less weird than usual too. He seems to be able to drop his guard a little bit around me lately and it has made our interactions less like a cringe-worthy teen angst fest and more like an awkward, slightly older, young adult angst fest.”
This all leads to both of them being Extremely Awkward around each other for at least 50% of the book, as they slowly start to realize that the reason the other person is acting strangely is because they like them, too (plus the whole “can’t let possibly non-magic person know about magic, oh wait, could they be magical, too???” It was super cute, don’t get me wrong, but a bit repetitive. There’s so much time spent on them not talking to each other that there’s little time to explore them in a relationship. For instance, the bleak moment took place right at the end of the book and felt like it was resolved very quickly. I would’ve liked more time spent on them resolving the conflict and how their interactions change because of that. At one point, Seb muses that neither of them are great at communication (ya think?!?!) but there’s no follow-through on that, either.
Overall, this is cute and short, but I would’ve liked more about Cora and Seb as a couple rather than the awkward pre-couple stage.