The magic and romance of Thistle Grove is honestly becoming a highlight of the year for me, and things take an especially enchanting turn in the third book, Back in a Spell, which just might be my favourite of Lana Harper’s series so far.
Nina Blackmoore is reeling after a nasty breakup and not sure how to pick herself back up. After matching on a dating app, she agrees to go on a date with Morty Gutierrez, the owner of the local touristy bar who is not at all the sort of person Nina usually goes for. Things, to put it lightly, do not go well.
While that would usually be that, this is Thistle Grove, where magic complicates things on days that end in Y. Just as Nina’s powers start surging out of control, Morty starts developing powers of his own – definitely not something a non-witch can do without marrying into one of the families. The strange occurrence draws the two of them back together to try and figure out what is going on and put a stop to it.
There are two reasons that this book stands out among the series for me. The first is that we finally get a protagonist from inside the Blackmoore family! Up till now they’ve been lurking in the background, the source of either heartbreak or misery for the other residents of Thistle Grove. As a certified villain lover, I was certain they couldn’t be as bad as that, and I am delighted to report I was right. Nina is a delight, and for those of us pulling for a Gareth redemption arc, it looks like (I hope) those wheels are in motion!
The other reason this book is my favourite in the series is the romance itself. Maybe a bit of an obvious answer for what is definitely a romance novel, but hear me out. In the first two books, which I enjoyed very much, the magical hijinx and the love story went hand in hand, but the magical side of things really had to do with the whole town. Nina and Morty’s story has town-wide consequences, yes, but it mostly just concerns the two of them.
What this means is the two of them have a lot of alone time to try and figure things out, and explore the explosive chemistry they have. Harper also gives Nina and Morty lots of time to work through their personal non-magical issues, and find a comfort in each other that was both profound and tender, and had me in tears by the end.
Back in a Spell is out January 3, 2023. Special thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for the advance copy for review purposes.