Berkley Presents: What The Hex

Title: What The Hex
Author:  Jessica Claire
Date Of Publication:  April 4th, 2023
Length:  336 pages 
Publisher:  Berkley 
Rating:  4 Stars 

Enemies-to-lovers has never been more enchanting in this witchy romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling author of Go Hex Yourself .

Penny Roundtree wants nothing more than to be a familiar to a witch. She’s been a member of the Society of Familiars ever since she was old enough to join the Fam. There’s just a small problem—no one’s hiring. Witches and warlocks are so long-lived that there are far more familiars available than witches to train them. So when an unorthodox arrangement to apprentice under the table to a forbidden warlock presents itself, she takes it.
Willem Sauer is banned from having a familiar due to past transgressions, thereby limiting his magic-casting abilities. Unfortunately for the surly, Prussian warlock, he has no choice but to work with enthusiastic Penny as a familiar. They immediately clash like dried roan horsehair and honeycomb gathered by moonlight (it’s a terrible spell combination, ask anyone).
Casting spells has delightful perks Penny never could have dreamed of, but also greater dangers. Someone is targeting Penny. Willem and Penny must work together to catch their enemy, and if their ploy requires a little kissing on the side, who is to question the rules of magic?
    Please enjoy this excerpt from 
    What The Hex
 Sir?”I look up from the book in my lap, annoyed that one of the servants has bothered to disturb me in my study. Putting aside the treatise on the casting benefits of various types of dried beetles as spell components, I eye my housekeeper. “Is there a problem?”She gestures feebly toward the front of the house. “It’s happening again.”My annoyance disappears immediately, replaced with surging anger and frustration. I jump to my feet, racing out of my study and down the hall. “Where?”“M-mailbox,”she calls after me. “Dorothy found a dead bird in your mailbox.”I storm out the front door and into the neighborhood. My house is in a little suburban community of other witches and warlocks, because it’s easiest to have neighbors that won’t call the police on me at all hours. I scan my lawn and the driveway. Nothing seems amiss, but the mailbox is hanging open. Biting the inside of my cheek, I manage to keep a bland expression on my face as I stalk toward the curb. One quick glance inside the mailbox shows that Dorothy did not lie. There’s a dead dove inside, nestled atop my mail. That weasel. I knew he’d come after me, especially after I’d just stolen his prized library. It’s an affront that can’t go unrecognized. Still, to frighten my housekeeping staff feels petty. He’s lucky they’re well aware I’m a warlock . . . even if they’re not aware that I’m a stifled one. I pull out the dove, irritated. The breast of the dead bird has been painted with runes, and I’m sure if I opened it up and examined the contents of its stomach, I’d find laurel leaves and a pebble from a hero’s grave. It’s a specific sort of spell that my nemesis is casting, one designed to break my wards and make my house vulnerable to others. This isn’t the first time that my old master Stoker has tried this sort of stunt. Ever since I left his service, he’s tried to have me killed. However, it is the first time he’s cast a curse at my current house. The house I’d had built to my specifications ten years ago, after I’d been forced to move from the last one because Stoker had found me again. He wants to make my life hell. And since I can’t cast to protect myself, the only thing I can do is avoid him. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have stolen his books. Ten years ago, I thought moving would solve my problems. My enemies would no longer have my address, and I’d finish the rest of my probationary period out under the radar. It’s clear that Stoker won’t rest until he finds me, and it doesn’t matter how many times I move. The man’s held a grudge for 250 years. Of course he’s going to attack me while I’m vulnerable. Well, no more. I’m not retreating. I’m done hiding. I made the first move, so I shouldn’t be surprised that he’s retaliating. Still, a dead dove is a little . . . over the top. I take the dead bird inside with me and hand it to the housekeeper, who makes a sound of protest. “Get rid of that.”“But, sir—”“I’ll be in my study.”I head for the bathroom, wash my hands, and then walk back to my study, locking the doors behind me. I want to go down to my laboratory, but I never go when the help staff is here. No one can know about the secret door I’ve had built that leads down to my lab and my trove of stolen spell books. For now, I have to wait. I take a deep breath, thinking through everything I need to get done. New wards around the house—that’s the first priority. An obfuscation spell to hide my address from anyone looking it up online. Each spell will wear me out for at least a week. All of them together and I’ll be out of action for well over a month. Without a familiar to act as my power source, I’ll be forced to rely on my own limited pool of energy. That means everything will take twice as long to cast and will leave me vulnerable. I can’t pay another witch or warlock to do it for me, because they’ve been forbidden to assist in my casting. It’s part of my “punishment.”Only ten more years to go. The thought is a dismal one. Maybe I should start out with scrying, I decide. See what exactly Stoker plans—A loud chirp echoes in the room. My eyes snap open, and I look at the “mailbox”atop the mantel of the fireplace. An envelope is inside, delivered by mystical means. It’s the only way my old master—my other old master, the one that’s not trying to kill me—communicates with me. I stride over toward it and tear the wax seal off the back of the envelope, reading the contents of the letter. Stoker is on the move. Be aware. —Abernathy I crumple it and toss the notice to the ground. “Thanks for nothing, but you’re a bit late.

My Thoughts 
If you are looking for a sweet, light, and oh so magically delicious romance.  Look no further than Jessica Claire's What The Hex.
Leading lady, Penny Roundtree, is a standout character from the word go.
With her bubbly personality, rainbows and unicorns packaging, and go-getter approach to life.  Is it any wonder that she would do anything other than to turn the otherwise staid and colorless life of exiled warlock, Willem Sauer, upside down?

The fun of this book is found in the secrets tha the two main characters are forced to keep.
And the questions that those secrets force others and them to both ask and answer. 

Are they friends?
Can they be lovers?
Will they ever be free of the ever present threat of Willem's old Master?
Will Willem ever be able to clear his name?
...and so much more. 

Seeing the evolution of Willem as a character as he and Penny grow closer.
So sweet.
And the sex!!!
The incorporation of the FAM, and all of the color and intrigue provided by the supporting cast.
Just fabulous...
And the right amount of funny to boot.

What The Hex is the second book in the Hex series.  But it could make a great first forey into wonderful Spring romance reading for all the magically inclined lovers of love.

Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Books for providing the review copy upon which this honest review is based. 

This is a pen name for Jill Myles.

Jill Myles has been an incurable romantic since childhood. She reads all the 'naughty parts' of books first, looks for a dirty joke in just about everything, and thinks to this day that the Little House on the Prairie books should have been steamier.

After devouring hundreds of paperback romances, mythology books, and archaeological tomes, she decided to write a few books of her own - stories with a wild adventure, sharp banter, and lots of super-sexy situations. She prefers her heroes alpha and half-dressed, her heroines witty, and she loves nothing more than watching them overcome adversity to fall into bed together.

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