A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for an honest review. This review is also available at The Romance Evangelist (mharvey816.mh2.org).
Melissa Bourbon Ramirez is a new author for me and although I have previously enjoyed many paranormal romance novels, I haven’t read many of late, so I went into this book with no expectations other to be entertained. And entertained I most definitely was! I was pulled all the way through this relatively short but densely packed plot wondering exactly how the author was going to manage to resolve all the dilemmas swirling around their romance without ruining my enjoyment of the story as a whole. Because make no mistake, Storie Bell has had a lot to deal with since she’s returned to town after her departure eight years before. She’s trying to fend off Reid Malone’s advances at the same time she’s trying to reimagine her late father’s decrepit gas station as a combination bookstore/coffee shop, secretly leveraging her magic powers where she can, even as they are inexplicably starting to wane. Meanwhile, Reid can’t forget how he and Storie had nearly come together on that day she left town (a scene we see only part of in the memorable prologue) but he’s sure that all he really wants is what he thinks is hidden somewhere in the building her daddy left her.
The interaction between Storie and Reid is what made this story a compelling read for me, and the way Reid worms his way into Storie’s life despite both of them insisting that there isn’t anything real between them. Storie knew that there was something Reid wasn’t telling her, but with so many other fires to fight all in the short time before the scheduled opening day for her Storiebook Cafe, she was only able to keep at arm’s length for so long before the electricity between them ignited into something more. I loved how completely obvious he was in his machinations, in spite of whether either of them thought that was a good idea or not.
I haven’t always had good luck with books being able to successfully incorporate paranormal elements into a believable contemporary setting, but Deceiving the Witch Next Door manages to stay on track with both the magical and non-magical parts of the story. The way everything comes together in the final chapters was as believable as could be expected, considering Storie is a witch and all. My only quibble was with the loose threads left after Storie’s final confrontation with why her powers had been waning, but I’m hoping that means we’ll be getting another book following up on what was left unresolved. I quite enjoyed reading Deceiving The Witch Next Door, and I’ll definitely be seeking out more of this author’s backlist.