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The Ex Hex

We know I like my witches, HOWEVER.

Nine years ago, Rhys Penhallow broke Vivienne Jone’s heart, and so she cursed him. It was all in good fun, until Rhys comes back for the Founder’s Day Festival, and all magical hell breaks loose.

I was really excited to read this one, but it wasn’t too high on my TBR during spooky month, so I never got around to it until now.

Starting off with my dislikes: the whole reason that Vivi cursed (it’s a curse, not a hex, btw) Rhys in the first place is because they’d been dating for three months and he said he had to go back to Wales to break off his betrothal that his dad was trying to set up. And Vivi loses her shit. Listen, I get that this is something that probably should have been addressed when they first started sleeping together, but Rhys is adamant that he didn’t want to get betrothed, and he didn’t exactly have a voice when it came to his dad. The fact that Vivi keeps bringing it up and was so pissed about it is lowkey annoying, because I have had MUCH worse things happen to me before a bad breakup, and I never cursed any of them. It’s not like Rhys was using her as a last bachelor hurrah; I believed he fully planned on coming back until she started throwing and screaming things and broke up with him, but such is life. They had to have the “second chance rocky start” somehow.

As a practicing neopagan witch, I would like ALL of my readers to know that the bullshit concept of light and dark magic, black and white magic, etc., is rooted in racism. It‘s racist, outdated terminology. If you need proof, simply look at how voodoo, hoodoo, or any sort of magic that originated in black or POC communities is treated in media. So-called “dark magic” is just closed practices demonized because of racism and white supremacy. I need people, especially white authors, who plan on using magic in their narratives to do the barest of minimums and talk to people who actually do this/Google something before writing about it. I don’t believe Sterling was trying to be racist, but for all my readers out there: this is racist. Call it out, stop it, and to fellow white readers: do your due diligence to educate yourself and others; it’s the least you can do.

This book is considered New Adult, which basically means that the content is more suitable for people who’re adults. Not middle schoolers, not high schoolers who can drive: 18+. I recently watched a TikTok that I can’t find FOR THE LIFE OF ME (but if I do I’ll link it here) that made great points about the New Adult genre that I happen to agree with: not every NA book needs sex and swearing; it’s more the content and who it’s appropriate for. For example: Gideon the Ninth doesn’t exactly have one screen sex scene, but I wouldn’t let my almost-high-school-aged sister read it. It shouldn’t be about the violence, sex, etc, but more about what the characters go through, their maturity level, the content of their journey… I know I’m not explaining this right, but I really can’t find this TikTok lol.

Okay, back from the mini rant, but about those sex scenes: for a book that I was told would be spicy, everything is like…a page at max. I wasn’t here for the smut, since I knew this was supposed to be more of a romcom, but it was just not good. I know Sterling says that the sex is great between them, but the one scene on page 232 takes literally two minutes. It just seemed a like a lot of buildup for a little payoff.

Speaking of, the last part of the book is all buildup and little payoff. The whole curse issue is fixed in two chapters of about 6 pages total I would guess, and it was just very underwhelming. There’s so much going into the characters and the curse and everything that’s happening, but it’s just…a let down, to be honest.

The things I liked, though, were the writing and the interactions between the characters. For the writing, I know how hard it is to have two different perspectives and make them sound like two different people, but Sterling did it so well. I was able to figure out who the chapter was following just by the way it was written, rather than having to parse out pronouns or have Sterling tell me who was leading it this time. It’s a neat way of writing the book, and it made it that much more enjoyable.

The interactions between the characters also seemed very natural. Of course Vivi is mad with Rhys (for stupid reasons but I digress) and the cousin, Gwyn, is on Vivi’s side because they’re besties and blood. Their relationship with the aunt, Elaine, seems more friendship than ‘this woman raised me’ but the characters are all either well past their 30’s or just getting into them, so I’ll let it pass. They feel like real people, and I appreciate how much we get to know about them through their interactions with each other.

Overall, this book was kinda meh. I was hoping for more, but I wasn’t completely disappointed. If another one comes out, I’ll probably read it, but this wasn’t my favorite witchy romance that I’ve read in the past few months.

Trigger warnings: sexual content, cursing, death, death of parent, alcohol, murder


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