Cover Image: Not Your Average Love Spell

Not Your Average Love Spell

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

“Camille reminded herself that they had a lot of indoctrination to undo”

Not Your Average Love Spell is a not so average book that I discovered thanks to netgalley for which I am grateful. From the start, this book was one adventure after another, yet it didn’t feel rushed and was well paced. Not Your Average Love Spell stars four main characters: Sydney – a knight, Camille – a master researcher, Rowena the Hawk – a witch and Ember – a homunculus.

This fantasy book is set in a world where the knights of the flame have been trying to capture all witches after the Witch Wars, which set people against witches. However, a new threat emerges and Sir Robert instructs Major Sydney to make conduct with the Hawk to transport their troops in order to fight the Kells who are dangerous because they believe other people are dreams. Sydney has Camille’s help as a master researcher. The two soon develop a fling. However, after the two are separated is when things get even more interesting.

Rowena, known as the Hawk, is a benevolent but grumpy and reclusive witch. She lives on top of a mountain with Ember, who she created and Husks. Ember is a highly energetic, curious and fiery woman who wants to go out and explore though misses Rowena and eventually has a ‘Rowena was right’ stage like most youth when they grow up.

These four characters get tangled up together in all kinds of ways. Sydney and Rowena are rivals who reluctantly work together, sometimes admire each other and for certain and too stubbornly similar to each other. Sydney and Camille were cute together but something seemed off and this was the more evident once they found new partners that suited them better. I won’t give other dynamics away but I liked the fact that even frenemies or newly friends got time to put their heads together. I found this refreshing because not a lot of books explore relationships in this way.

There was enough time for good character development. Characters learn to accept hard truths, to challenge themselves and their beliefs, to change their behaviours and so on. The characters and not just the couples, encourage each other directly and indirectly to be better. This was such a healthy way to portray relationships. This depth of characters is also shown by the fact that at first, I disliked a bit the characters (except perhaps Ember) yet as the characters developed, I couldn’t help but root for them and support them. All characters are flawed in realistic manners such as their fears and snapping and shutting out others and overcompensating. None of them come out as perfect from the start. The different forms of femininity and diversity of characters is definitely a plus too.

The adventures as mentioned above, were plentiful. There are pirates and warriors, a yeti, giant spiders, a possible dragon, lizard people and in general, a lot of tough-headed knights. The plot was definitely interesting and with a lot of twists and turns. It took me a while to realize that the Kells-plot was not concluded but the whole overall plot was so great that I didn’t mind.

The writing was seasoned with beautiful writing and truths. The cover was lovely too! It was what first draw me to read the plot of the book so I’m grateful for that. The title is an overall hint to the character development and plot: it’s not average.

I highly recommend this book to lovers of fantasy and to those that want characters to be challenged to deconstruct what they know and learn how to live together. It’s a beautiful book!
Was this review helpful?
I couldn’t really get into this book. It was very slow yet straight into one of the romance elements with no build up. I usually love a fantasy book that involves witches or magic but this one had a loose storyline and I couldn’t connect with any of the characters.
Was this review helpful?
Quite an interesting journey with this book. I didn't immediately connect but in retrospect, I think that's because I wasn't supposed to in a way. The pace of the book was good and the fantasy developed and delivered an enjoyable read.

3.5 stars
Was this review helpful?
Review of Not Your Average Love Spell by Barbara Ann Wright
Not your average love spell is the tale of four women thrust together to try and save a kingdom.  The knights of the flame  need to move their army across the world to stave off an eminent threat.  The order assigns Major Sydney to work with the lovely master librarian Camille to come up a plan. The problem is the only solution is for them to seek out the services of a witch. A user of the very magic that the order of the flame is hellbent on removing from the world. The witch and her companion Ember agree to help but the four of them are betrayed and their lives are turned into chaos as they struggle to save the world and each other.
Not your average love spell is a great story filled with magic, wonderous creatures and adventure but what I really enjoyed about the book was the way that the characters grew. The adapted, challenged their own belief and customs and  not only found true love but also became better people and leaned to accept others for the way they were. It is a great thing to read in these trying times and I took hope from it. The story pulls  with enough magic to feel like a fully fleshed out fantasy world while keeping our heroes relatable and engaging
I give it a full hearted thumbs up and you should definitely check it out.
Was this review helpful?
This story is told from the perspective of four amazing women. All of whom are such a joy to follow and root for. The story is very well crafted and constantly kept me on the edge of my seat. 
Sydney is a knight who follows a code of justice. She is strong, caring, and determined. She believes Witches and magic are evil and aims to protect her kingdom by ending both. She also has integrity and a strong sense of honor.
Camille is a master researcher who believes that magic is neither good or bad and hates the knights for trying to eradicate magic. She is kind, intelligent, strong willed, and caring. She constantly throws herself into bigger and bigger messes to help those she cares for.
Rowena is a witch who longs to break the knights hold on her kingdom so she and other magic users can be free from persecution. She is stubborn, powerful, selfless, and lonely. She is willing to use magic to help anyone in need even when it is to her own detriment.
Ember is curious, adventurous, and brave. She is a constant delight both in the way she sees the world and with her blunt way of speaking. 
These four women must work together to save the world from enemies unknown. Their adventure is thrilling. There is a larger amount of romance, action, mystery, and character growth.
The romance is sweet and honest and is very clean. So it should be able to appeal to all audiences.
The writing was amazing and the mysteries constantly kept me guessing. 
I loved this story and hope there are more stories following these characters in the future even though I believe this is a stand alone and ends quite conclusively.
Was this review helpful?
I was actually surprised by how long this actually took me to read. This is definitely a fantasy lite book, with the fantasy elements pretty accessible for readers who may not have patience for the slower build up of the high fantasy genre. It's also a bit of a comedy - the tone feels light and airy, even with the stakes being pretty high, and the four leads have their fair share of quips and asides that can be funny.

With all that, though, I felt that despite the pacing being pretty slow, the rate in which the women pair up and declare their love for each other was a little jarring. It could be that they are each awkward in their own way, so sudden declarations of love (even during some harrowing situations) should feel natural. But for all that, I could just roll my eyes at these ridiculous people and their zaniness. I'm still not sure if it was a good thing or not.

I'd say that this is more of a dramedy with some high fantasy adventure elements in it. It has all the magic and adventures of a high fantasy, but has more of the quirkiness of Charmed. This gives Wright some leeway to have fun with the world and her characters without being too rigid with the dialog/ mannerisms of her characters. I enjoyed the quirkiness, but wish that it didn't read as slowly as it did.
Was this review helpful?
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Highly recommend this book to everyone. Can't wat to read more from this author.
Was this review helpful?
Review excerpted from my blog post over at Pan/Cis LGBT2SQ+ Romance Reviews (https://pancis.wordpress.com/2019/11/14/not-your-average-love-spell-by-barbara-ann-wright/)

Overall Rating: 3.0 stars

Library recommendation: Recommended for public library LGBT2SQ+ romance collections.

Warning: Hereafter, you chance spoilers. I will try never to reveal major plot points, but to review any book, you must reveal some parts of the story.

 
___________________

Number of titles I have read by this author: 1

Love story speed: Slow burn

Relationship dynamics: The Hunted Witch (h1) / The Brave Librarian (h2) / The Knight (h3) / The Homunculus (h4); love triangles

Sexual content: Some; all off-screen; kissing on-screen.

Gender Identity: Cis (h1) / Cis (h2) / Cis (h3) / Cis (h4)

Sexual Identity: Lesbian (h1) / Lesbian (h2) / Lesbian (h3) / Bisexual (h4)

Triggers:  Village razing; a lot of death, including child death; graphic hunting scenes; agoraphobia; partner swapping; recounting of violent assault (of h1)

Acceptance Rating: 5 stars

Acceptance Rating Explanation: Women love women and no one bats an eye.

Grammar/Editing: My ARC had a few typos, but nothing significant.

Review: This is a somewhat unevenly paced novel that is probably most appropriate for new adult readers, given the somewhat juvenile tone of the writing and storyline, and the fairly simple world building. It may also be appropriate for those who would like to “try out” fantasy but don’t want to commit to anything too detail-heavy.

There are four main characters in this book and two separate romantic relationships, but with definite love triangle conflict in both. I found Sydney, Camille and Rowena interesting enough as characters, but Ember was far too talkative – so much so that her dialogue and thoughts began to feel almost stream-of-consciousness. I otherwise found the characters to be distinct, but not terribly exciting. I really did not develop an investment in either of the relationships: each character could have chosen a different partner and it would not have made a significant difference to my overall feelings about the story. With the exception of the villain, who is surprisingly disturbing, the supporting characters also mostly bled together and felt interchangeable, which is unfortunate because there was a lot of potential for development that was missed.

 

Full disclosure: I received a free advance review copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
3.75 Stars. I thought this was a fun and entertaining adventure. This is a high fantasy read but the fantasy aspects are very approachable. Sometimes in fantasy books it takes chapters and chapters just to know everyone’s names, places, and just what exactly is going on…but not with this book. I would go as far to say that I think fans newer to the fantasy genre would have no problems with this book because it is so readable. A few times I even thought it was too lighthearted and I wished for a little more seriousness or more grit. Once I got used to the style of easy breezy fantasy, I was able to have more fun with this story and it ended up being very entertaining.

This book has a great mix of people and creatures. From a knight who cannot lie to a witch who is also a necromancer. Magic, pirates, dragons, giant spiders, and even a Yeti, this book had a little bit of everything. While I have seen similar premises, with magic being banned and witches hunted down, the rest of the book with the way the whole plot unfolded just felt different and I loved that. What also really impressed me was the amount of action this book had. It was one thing after another after another all keeping me completely glued to the book. While it took me a few chapters to settle in to this lighter fantasy feel, once the action started, I could not stop reading.

There are four main characters in this book. It’s funny because when the book first started out, I wasn’t sure if I would like any of them. There is one character in particular who I worried was too Mary Sue-ish. She was the best fighter, most respected, and the one everyone wanted to sleep with. Luckily, something big happens (I won’t mention what) and all of the character’s circumstances change. Each character settles down and you start to learn more about them. What makes them tick and their personalities shine, and soon I found myself getting attached to all four of them.

There is romance in this book. There is so much action that the “I love yous” do feel like they come too early. I guess when fighting for your lives, a few days is not too much to fall in love but I did find the romance to be a little hokey. I do want to make clear that it doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the characters together. I was rooting for them to get together. Once I stopped picking at little things and just went with the flow, I had fun with it. There is plenty of talk about sex, but the sex scenes are all fade to black.

While this style of this high fantasy book is not my favorite, it was very entertaining. The action was great and the characters where likeable. It’s the kind of book to not take things too seriously and just have fun reading. If you don’t read much fantasy, this action packed book might be a perfect way to ease into the fantasy genre.
Was this review helpful?
Not Your Average Love Spell is neither your average fantasy nor your average romance. In fact, it’s a book that is far more than the sum of its parts. Barbara Ann Wright mixes so much into her story – romance, comedy, drama, action, adventure – that it threatens more than once to collapse under the clash of themes, but those clashes and contrasts only serve to make it stronger and more engaging.

Let me start by talking about the fantasy aspects. While this doesn’t offer the depth or complexity of an epic fantasy doorstopper, it is a solid little fantasy tale with a lot of really cool elements – knights, witches, monsters, and even dragons. Wright plays to all the tropes, from quests to battles, and expected set pieces, from libraries to castles, but in a way that keeps the story fresh while preserving the surprises. There is a question of magic that runs through it, and I liked what she did with that, exploring themes of fear, hatred, and discrimination in relation to it, rather than race (which seems a non-issue), sexuality (which is casually accepted), or gender (female knights are not only common, they’re respected).

As for the romance, that was surprisingly sweet and amusing, with four women at the heart of the story who are entirely likable. Camille is fantastic, the bubbly scholar who turns out to have the courage of a warrior; Sydney is the intellectual core of the novel, a woman who finds her beliefs and role deeply challenged, forcing her to grow and adapt if they’re to save the world; Rowena is harder to warm up to, a witch who keeps herself isolated from society and closed off from emotions, but I identified with her, and she became my favorite by the end; while Ember serves as the emotional core, an magically constructed woman who blends childlike innocence and wonder with some of the story’s most mature thoughts on love and humanity. There’s some angst and doubt there, some romantic tension, and several would-be-lover’s quarrels, but the spark of attraction and the emotional connections are undeniable. What’s more, Wright interweaves the relationships, mixing things up so that the romantic pairings we end with are not necessarily the ones we expected at the beginning.

Not Your Average Love Spell was everything I’d hoped for from the blurb – and much more. Whether you read it as a fantasy, a romance, or just a story that refuses to be closeted in one genre, this is an entirely satisfying read.
Was this review helpful?
This book was definitely a bit of a surprise. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started. While this story does have elements of romance, the main focus is more centered around the epic adventure the four women find themselves on. 

I enjoyed the story a great deal. The fantasy world that it takes place in was well fleshed out without leaving me feeling like there was too much exposition.

I enjoyed each character for different reasons. They were each unique and fun to follow at the various stages of the book.
Was this review helpful?
Despite the magic being forbidden I was hoping to see some more of it, or at least learn a little more about it. Sydney was a good main character, although some of her decisions were frustrating at times.
Was this review helpful?
I haven’t read this author in a long time and while I liked the book I really didn’t love it.

In this world magic is illegal but the army realizes the only way to defend their land is to use magic. I love that Wright gives characters traits that are typically gendered male in other fantasy books.

The world building with this author is usually light and I think most people read her books for the lesbian romances in her fantasy worlds and for that it suffices.
Was this review helpful?
I received an ARC copy of this book from the Publisher via Netgalley and voluntarily leaving my review.

Sydney is major in the army and she is not a fan of magic she believes it's evil which had been ban from suing. When the Knights of Flames hire Camille to help them find The Hawk to help moved their army because they believes The Kells army is coming for them. 

Rowena The Hawk is a powerful witch who been exiled from home she company by Ember when she cast a powerful spell everything goes wrong. It's up to these four women to make things right. I do find it funny that Sydney is naive to think Sir Robert won't be dishonorable and try make her the fall guy and that the Knights can be honorable. Camille just want to show the world that witches and magic is not evil that it's who wield power is. Rowena acts like she doesn't need anyone but you can tells she wants friends and a life. Ember who will stay loyal to Rowena wants have a life and see the world if only she can get Rowena to let people in.

I love fantasy books and I don't want to go into details because I will seriously ruin the book for you I enjoy reading it though.
Was this review helpful?
Where to start with this one.........  First off, I want to mention from the outset that I’m a very picky fantasy reader.  As in, I rarely choose to read a fantasy story unless it’s from a vetted author that I trust or comes highly recommended from others who I know share my style.  I tend to get irritated with fantasy-light stories or with authors who over or under explain the worlds they are building.  Additionally, this is also my first read of a Wright novel (surprisingly!), and I went into it with no clue what to expect from her.

Since I’m the first reviewer that I can see on here, I’ll try to summarize the plot a bit more for those of you who want it.  Essentially, magic has been outlawed in their land, but the Knights of the Flame realize that the only way to move their army to defend their borders is by using magic.  MC Sydney is a (fairly naïve) Major in the army and she’s very opposed to using magic.  The biggest problem is that when Rowena the Hawk, a powerful witch, casts the spell, everything goes wrong and Sydney is forced to question everything she believes in.

When it comes right down to it, this was a good story, but it felt a bit too fantasy-lite for my personal tastes.  I feel like Wright created an interesting fantasy world without overwhelming the casual fantasy reader, but in doing that, it felt immature to me.  I really hate being the first reviewer and having to give a more negative review, but this story didn’t work for me personally.

Overall, the book was entertaining enough, but I found myself needing to put it down and move on to another story multiple times in the middle of this read - which is incredibly abnormal for me.  The pace was fine and the story was engaging enough, but it didn’t wow me.  I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly it was that bothered me in this one, but I do feel like it had more to do with my personal preferences and dislike of the fantasy-lite reads more than anything.  For those of you who want to try out a fantasy story but may not want the serious, more in-depth epic fantasy, this is likely the book for you!  For me, 3 stars.

**Many thanks to Bold Strokes for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.**
Was this review helpful?