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REVIEW: Hexes and Horns – Rowan McAllister

Hexes and Horns - Rowan McAllister

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay

Reviewer: Tony

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About The Book

Ryan O’Byrne has rules: 1) no using his magic, 2) no getting dragged back into his family’s craziness, and 3) no dating supernaturals of any kind, especially shifters … in other words, nothing and no one who will tempt him to break rule number one.

But what if the gorgeous wall of muscle he can’t seem to stay away from just happens to be a shifter? Well, it is only a short-term thing, and he isn’t a master of denial for nothing.

Leo Holt can’t help it if he has a teeny tiny weakness for bad boys—not really bad, just a little prickly around the edges. Even for a unicorn, all sweetness and light, all the time, can get a little boring. But, falling for the eldest son of the dark witch family who runs his little West Virginia town might be getting his fingers too close to the fire, even for him.

For Ryan, it was supposed to be a simple trip back home to show support during a family crisis. But when hexes, secrets, a family demon, and the O’Byrne witches are involved, nothing is ever simple.

Hexes and Hornsis part of the Magic Emporium Series. Each book stands alone, but each one features an appearance by Marden’s Magic Emporium, a shop that can appear anywhere, but only once and only when someone’s in dire need. This book contains explicit sex scenes, a muscular moonshiner, a reluctant witch, a spooky best friend, and a guaranteed HEA.

The Review

This is one the novellas in the multi-author series The Magic Emporium. There are two main characters, Ryan O’Byrne and Leo Holt, and the point of view alternates between the two throughout the story.

Ryan is a witch, and Leo is a shifter of some kind. They both have secrets which will have a bearing on the relationship that is building between them.

Ryan has been called back home to his family home in Byrnwood as he younger brother is sick. While he is enjoying the local fairy festival with his best friend Kaia he sees his sister racing from a forest, chased by birds. She gets into her car and drives off at speed nearly killing an elderly man who is saved by Ryan. This act brings him into contact with Leo. The story follows the two as they negotiate the fallout from the enmity between the witch family from hell, Ryan’s family that is, and their arch-enemy, and friend of Leo, Morag.

Ryan is a mixed up character, and he is well written. Regardless of that, I have a problem liking him, as he is confused and contradictory – sometimes he is strong, and other times weak and whiny, as he himself admits. He knows his family is far from perfect, but he still leaps to their defence without finding out what they have done.

His sister is the main issue here. She is up to no good regardless of the reasons she gives, but Ryan seems unwilling to see her actions as anything other than misguided. Even when she sets fire to the bar, injuring numerous patrons, and Ryan chases her home to have it out with her, he does not even bring it up in front of their parents.

When he says he’s going to have it out with his family, he never fully delivers on that promise.  Ryan turns out to be such a procrastinator, I’m surprised he managed to make the right decision, or any decision come to that. To give him his due, he does come up with the goods in the end.

Leo is a good guy, but maybe a little to perfect to be true. Considering the magical creature he is, that’s acceptable. He’s tall, handsome and dependable – he’ll do for me. He is a fun character to be around and he is aware of the fine line he treads between silliness and heroism.,

The Magic Emporium aspect of the story is a bit more original than in some of the installments in the sequence, but it takes place at a point of high anxiety for Ryan. With some minor edits, the necessity for its appearance could be eliminated here, (and most of the other books) but you can’t have everything.

This is a reasonable read with some really good things to enjoy along the way. Don’t let the first few pages put you off, as it gets better. Any book with a big macho werewolf called Angel running a gay friendly bar has got my vote. Got the hair on my back raising and my tail wagging, but then it’s a full moon. A great big super moon at that, so it’s allowed!

The Reviewer

Tony is an Englishman living amongst the Welsh and the Other Folk in the mountains of Wales. He lives with his partner of thirty-six years, four dogs, two ponies, various birds, and his bees. He is a retired lecturer and a writer of no renown but that doesn’t stop him enjoying what he used to think of as ‘sensible’ fantasy and sf. He’s surprised to find that if the story is well written and has likeable characters undergoing the trails of life, i.e. falling in love, falling out of love, having a bit of nooky (but not all the time), fending off foes, aliens and monsters, etc., he’ll be happy as a sandperson who has just offloaded a wagon of sand at the going market price. As long as there’s a story, he’s in. He aims to write fair and honest reviews. If he finds he is not the target reader he’ll move on. 

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