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REVIEW: Strange Brews by Stobie Piel

Dear Ms. Piel,

Strange BrewI’ve read a couple of your books before and always enjoyed them though sometimes some improbabilities marred my final grade. Therefore, I was really excited to see a 5 heart review for your first Woodland Mage book. My final thoughts are: not as good as the review but not as bad as I thought it might be when I started to read it.

The opening chapter doesn’t make me fall in love with either main character. Eliana appears to be a little dishonest and up to no good. Damir comes off as a bit smug and condescending. Apparently they’ve been that way for most of their lives. Then Eliana accidentally drinks the potion that wipes her memory clear and Damir’s reaction really didn’t thrill me. He decides to take his
revenge by taking her to his home and pretending she’s his wife. He keeps stating to himself that this is allowed by the laws of the country (for one mage to take revenge on another for past acts) but when he persists even after he realizes she has no memory and that she truly believes she’s his wife, it just seems icky. He ultimately decides not to go through with actual sexual intercourse but the whole idea that he was almost willing to take this revenge on someone who had no memory of anything she’d done to him in the past didn’t endear him to me. It really makes me rethink my views on the “innocent by reason of insanity” plea.

And for the next 100 pages, Eliana comes off as a Stepford wife. She’s sweet, loving, adores her “husband,” listens to everything he says and only wants to please him. She’s too bland and this section is, well in all honesty, a little boring. I wanted some spice and to see some of this famous bickering these two are known for. Luckily, Eliana finally realizes what’s happened to her
and that she’s the woman who the whole country has always thought was a witch (in behavior and not just job description). She still doesn’t have her memory back but she’s pissed that Damir tried what he did. But she also realizes that she still has feelings for Damir and knows she doesn’t want to go back to the relationship they had. He feels the same way and their fight to protect
their country from the evil that stalks it is mixed with their slowly working out their personal future. It’s this last 3/5 of the book that saves it for me.

I think that you’ve done a good job with the secondary characters and in building the Woodland world. You don’t go overboard there and describe it enough for it to be real without too much time spent on that. It’s enough for a romance/fantasy book. I like the open ended resolution. Evil has been defeated but only for the time and the story will be continued in Prince of Ice. B- for you.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

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