Title: Payback’s a Witch (The Witches of Thistle Grove #1)
Author: Lana Harper
Publication Date: October 5, 2021
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBTQ
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The L Word in this fresh, sizzling New York Times bestselling rom-com by Lana Harper.
Emmy Harlow is a witch but not a very powerful one—in part because she hasn’t been home to the magical town of Thistle Grove in years. Her self-imposed exile has a lot to do with a complicated family history and a desire to forge her own way in the world, and only the very tiniest bit to do with Gareth Blackmoore, heir to the most powerful magical family in town and casual breaker of hearts and destroyer of dreams.
But when a spellcasting tournament that her family serves as arbiters for approaches, it turns out the pull of tradition (or the truly impressive parental guilt trip that comes with it) is strong enough to bring Emmy back. She’s determined to do her familial duty; spend some quality time with her best friend, Linden Thorn; and get back to her real life in Chicago.
On her first night home, Emmy runs into Talia Avramov—an all-around badass adept in the darker magical arts—who is fresh off a bad breakup . . . with Gareth Blackmoore. Talia had let herself be charmed, only to discover that Gareth was also seeing Linden—unbeknownst to either of them. And now she and Linden want revenge. Only one question stands: Is Emmy in?
But most concerning of all: Why can’t she stop thinking about the terrifyingly competent, devastatingly gorgeous, wickedly charming Talia Avramov?
Why This Book
This first book in The Witches of Thistle Grove series is a perfect Halloween read, complete with witches, an October tournament between the four witch families, and a romance between the girl who left town and magic behind years ago and the scion of the family that deals in death magic. As a revenge story, it disappoints. As a romance, it was highly enjoyable and so sweet.
I’ve chosen this book because of the featured romance between Emmy and Thalia. On one hand, you have a young woman who left town and magic after a bad romance with a womanizer, but who is back because she still has witchy duties her parents expect her to carry out. On the other, there’s the scion of the witch family that deals with death magic, as in summoning demons, communicating with spirits, and hosting a wild wood full of spirits who can’t move on. Theirs was a sweet push and pull romance mostly because Emmy couldn’t decide what she wanted, and Thalia was just amazingly lovely and steadfast.
My review: “Their romance hit all the right notes for me, even if it was formulaic in the typical romance novel way, so the witchy aspects of the story helped me out a lot. I’ve been looking all year for my favorite sapphic romance, and I think I finally found it.”
Victoria from The Lesbian Review thought Emmy and Talia “perfectly complement each other”
Anna G from The Nerd Daily rated it 9/10 and thought Emmy and Talia’s romance felt natural
Ellen from Smart Bitches Trashy Books rated this a B and seemed to think the romance was great
Utopia State of Mind had a favorable romance, saying it delivered “magical quests, romance, and internal narration”
Baltimore Bibliophile rated it 5/5 and was “pleasantly surprised with the magical contemporary romance”
Etta from Chonky Books rated it 3.25/5, saying she loved “the four main concepts: the revenge, the tournament, the self-discovery journey, and the romance; however, there were many moments where they felt competing rather than weaving together”
Jane from Nerd Girl Loves Books rated it a 3 and said it was fun
Sammy from We Write at Dawn rated it a 3 and thought the romance was cute
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