“The League of Gentlewomen Witches” Will Make You Laugh Out Loud

Photo by the author, edited in Canva

(Full disclosure: This post uses Bookshop.org affiliate links. I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from Berkley & NetGalley in exchange for my honest review). 

Have you ever read a book that made you laugh out loud, to the point that whoever was nearby at the time asked what you were reading? Would you like to do it again — or for the first time? 

If you answered yes to either of those questions, may I recommend India Holton’s The League of Gentlewomen Witches? This latest installment in the Dangerous Damsels series comes out today, March 15th, so you can officially go out and grab a copy right now. 

Go ahead. I’ll wait. 

Oh, you’re not convinced? Well, okay, I suppose I can tell you a bit more about why I think this book is the perfect one to read right now. First, a little snippet from the synopsis: 

Miss Charlotte Pettifer belongs to a secret league of women skilled in the subtle arts. That is to say — although it must never be said — witchcraft. The League of Gentlewomen Witches strives to improve the world in small ways. Using magic, they tidy, correct, and manipulate according to their notions of what is proper, entirely unlike those reprobates in the Wisteria Society.

When the long lost amulet of Black Beryl is discovered, it is up to Charlotte, as the future leader of the League, to make sure the powerful talisman does not fall into the wrong hands. Therefore, it is most unfortunate when she crosses paths with Alex O’Riley, a pirate who is no Mr. Darcy. — Goodreads Synopsis

What I Liked

This book is full of spot-on literary references from classics like Pride and Prejudice and other works of Austen. Charlotte tries to model her good behavior off these heroines, with hilarious results, seeing as these women were in no way built for the world of pirates and witches (which do not exist, but if they did). Watching her imagine their reactions to various scenarious is one of the main reasons I kept laughing out loud while reading. 

Like its predecessor, The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels, this book is chock full of tongue-in-cheek humor about genre conventions of romances and adventure narratives alike. 

It’s also just all-out, absolutely bonkers in the best way. The narrative voice is spot-on for the world of magic and antics that Holton has created and shifts seamlessly between a close third person from Charlotte’s perspective to Alex’s. 

Our good friends Cecilia and Ned from the first book in the series play more than a minor role, as well, and it was nice to see the characters return and advance their story a bit. These days the word “series” gets used a bit loosely in my personal opinion, but here I felt the connections were strong enough to warrant the word. 

What I Didn’t Like

I think I said this about the first book, as well, but sometimes the absurdity was bit much for me personally. The entire setup is so ridiculous that sometimes the stakes felt incredibly low. 

In theory, that’s excellent, since I don’t want to be reading anything too serious or heavy in the midst of all the things happening in the world right now. But in practice, I sometimes didn’t feel compelled to pick the book back up because I just didn’t feel the need to know what would happen next. 

That’s really my only complaint, and it may in fact be a positive thing if you’re looking for a good adventure with a guaranteed happy ending in these times. Which, aren’t we all? 

In all, I think Holton has done a masterful job of crafting an adventure/romance that pokes good fun at itself. The lit nerd love kicks up a notch in this book and the BA in Literature in me was thrilled. 

If you’re looking for a book that will make you laugh and keep you guessing at what the characters will do next, look no further than The League of Gentlewomen Witches. I recommend it particularly to former (or current) lit majors, lovers of Jane Austen, and anyone looking for a lighthearted laugh of a book. 

Many thanks to Berkley Publishing and NetGalley for the digital advanced reader copy! 

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“Getting Clean with Stevie Green” Gets a Yes from Me

Photo by the author

For some reason whenever I looked at the thumbnail image for the cover art of Getting Clean with Stevie Green on NetGalley, I thought it was a person whose body is spiraling open. The cover actually features a person holding a stack of pillows in front of their face, but for whatever reason, this was not what my brain saw. 

I’m telling you this because it is my explanation for why it took me so long between getting an ARC of this title and actually reading it. Would I like the “body spiraling open” version of this book? Probably not — I don’t go in for horror. 

But as the synopsis reminded me when I finally realized my book tour date was approaching, this isn’t the kind of book where people spiral open. At least, not in a literal sense. Here’s what it’s actually about, according to the back cover: 

“At thirty-seven, Stevie Green has had it with binge drinking and sleeping with strange men. So when her mother asks her to return to her hometown of La Jolla to help with a move, she’s desperate enough to say yes. Things go so well that Stevie starts her own decluttering business. She stops drinking. She hires her formerly estranged sister, Bonnie, to be her business partner. She rekindles a romance with her high school sweetheart, Brad. Things are better than ever — except for the complicated past that Stevie can’t seem to outrun.

Even though I will insist I’m not really the kind of person who enjoys a book in which people are keeping secrets, I think I am actually sometimes very much that person. Because I loved this book. 

(Full disclosure: Book links are Bookshop.org affiliate links. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review — many thanks to the publisher and Over the River PR!). 

Getting Clean with Stevie Green is one of those books that starts off in one character’s POV, but because the chapters say that characters’ name at the top, you know it’ll eventually shift. While I dislike multiple POVs in a romance novel, it does work very well in a “everyone is keeping secrets from each other” story like this one. 

We follow Stevie the most closely, with other characters coming in more to add another angle than to fully tell their own stories. And Stevie’s voice is very compelling, written as if you’re a close friend and she’s telling you the story directly.

She begins that story with the oh-so-relatable statement: “It’s hard to know who you are.” 

This forms the thesis of the book, in a way — Stevie is trying to figure out who she is, a question that is difficult to answer because she’s spent so much of her life thus far either drunk, or high, or both. 

What Stevie does know is that she wants to be La Jolla’s number one decluttering guru, and that if she acts like she knows everything there is to know about getting clean, people will believe her. They don’t need to know about the wine bottles in her glove compartment, because she isn’t going to drink them, and they don’t need to know about her drinking problem because she isn’t sober, she’s “on a cleanse.” 

All Stevie’s clients need to know is that her system is simple — for every item, you ask one question: Yes… or no? 

I absolutely felt sucked in to Stevie’s story from the very beginning and wholeheartedly agree with Storygraph’s assessment of it as “fast-paced.” As we slowly learn more about Stevie’s past and become invested in her future, other characters from her life chime in to let us know the truth about what really happened back in high school. 

Even if I didn’t always agree with her choices, I was rooting for Stevie to be number one in the decluttering business and, more importantly, to find the answer to the question she asks herself in the mirror each morning — “who am I?” 

This is my first 5-star read of the year, and so it’s no surprise that I’m going to say I highly recommend it. The writing has a spark of wit and truth to it that had me reaching for a pen to mark off quotes. The story has just the right stakes to keep you invested while also feeling fun. 

To me, it’s got a similar vibe to All Are Welcome with the wealthy family full of secrets and multiple perspectives (my review of that book, if you’re interested). So if you enjoyed that one, I think you should definitely add Getting Clean with Stevie Green to your TBR. 

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