My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Okay, so yes, Rhys had broken her heart.
The Ex Hex, starts off a new series about witches that live in the Georgia town of Graves Glen. Vivi grew up not really knowing about her witchy powers because of how her mother feared the power but when her parents die, she is sent to live with her aunt Elaine and cousin Gwyn and tries to straddle the line between being a “normie” and a witch. When she is nineteen, she has a summer romance with Rhys, who is a Penhallow, the town's founding family. They burn hot for three months but when Rhys says he has to go home to Wales to tell his father to break his betrothal, Vivi freaks out not knowing he was engaged and breaks up with him. Heartbroken, she and her cousin Gwyn conduct, what they think is a fake, curse on Rhys. It takes nine years later and the return of Rhys to find out that their curse was all too real.
Even now, battered and bruised and possibly standing in squirrel shit, he was . . . happy. Glad to see her, brush with vehicular homicide aside.
The timing of the release of this book couldn't be more perfect, the Fall and Halloween vibes is perfect for late September and the light, chik-lit tone brought the spookiness in a fun and delightful way. I've seen some Hocus Pocus talk in the marketing and it has a little bit of that, especially one scene the movie's fans will be able to point to, but it does it with more of an adult theme with some sex scenes. With the lighter tone, we kind of dance into and around the characters, not too much delving deep. I felt like I knew Vivi more but I still didn't think her struggle with fitting in and complicated relationship with magic was explored enough. Rhys was the perfect gentleman with just enough moments of introspection to go along with his sweet and loose personality. We get introduced to his family, his scary father Simon, and two broody older brothers but, just. As Vivi's aunt and cousin live in Graves Glen, we see them more and Vivi's cousin Gwyn has future main character written all over her.
And the last thing she was going to do was fall for Rhys Penhallow all over again.
When Rhys comes back to Graves Glen to help celebrate the town's founding anniversary and strengthen the ley lines, the magic that flows into the town, the curse takes affect and he's suddenly dodging life threatening accidents. He thinks something might be wrong but his father's arrogance can't imagine Vivi being strong enough to be able to curse a Penhallow, so Rhys goes ahead with the ritual of strengthening the ley lines, only to transfer the curse into the ley lines and thus, into the town. Graves Glen is full of witches and civilians alike and now that magic is going haywire in the town because of the curse, they fear discovery. This gives the story the excuse to keep Rhys in town and working with Vivi and the second chance romance and enemies-to-lovers tropes to perform.
“Stay with me here. You’re an adult woman going through a stressful time in her life, and now your hot-as-hell ex is back in town and wants to kiss your face off. I say smoke ’em if you got ’em, babe.”
Vivi and Rhys figure out she cursed him for real by the 25% mark and with so much story left, there were enough times I stopped to think that they weren't paying enough attention to stopping the curse, the focus dwindles as Vivi and Rhys' relationship takes more of the spotlight. With the lighter tone, I didn't mind as much but it does become noticeable, especially in the second half. The town and it's mythology come into play more in the latter second half and I appreciated how it filled the world out and gave us more of a setting that could be continued into the series.
Cariad. He’d called her that, that summer. She could still feel it, growled against her ear, whispered into her skin, murmured between her thighs.
This was a fairly angst free zone, Vivi thinks Rhys thought of their summer romance as more of a fling but Rhys still checked up on her over their nine years apart and calls her the one who got away. As they start their romance back up, Vivi doesn't think they can have a future because Rhys lives in Wales and she loves Graves Glen too much to ever leave and Rhys is scared to tell her he loves her because of this. They were sweet, cute, funny, and steamy at turns but not particularly deep diving. This story did have loads of charm, from the seasonal Halloween vibes, the light tone, Vivi and Gwyn's friendship, Rhys and Vivi's cute romance, and to Sir Purrcival, who when he gets his chance to talk, opts for “treats” to be 95% of his vocabulary. The Ex Hex is the perfect light and sweet romance to start your Halloween season with.
“How did I ever give you up?” he murmured.