Review by Kayleigh

Series Name: The Hex, #2 

From afar, I glare daggers into the man-bun-wearing fool. I lean against the car, watching as he flirts with my fake girlfriend, reaching over and touching a lock of her hair and laughing with her. Does he think because she’s claimed that now he has to stake out his territory? Because it looks as if he’s trying to pull her into his lap. Penny smiles again, discreetly moving her chair a little farther away when the idiot leans in again. At least it’s only one sided. I’d be all kinds of pissed if she had a secret paramour… and then I frown at myself. Why does it matter? I just need her for casting, to be my power source. There’s nothing personal about it. 

What The Hex is a sexy and fun romp that combines fake dating and some mutual pining with a magical spin.  

Penny Roundtree wants nothing more than to be a familiar to a witch. She’s been a member of the Society of Familiars ever since she was old enough to join the Fam. There’s just a small problem–no one’s hiring. Witches and warlocks are so long-lived that there are far more familiars available than witches to train them. So when an unorthodox arrangement to apprentice under the table to a forbidden warlock presents itself, she takes it.

Willem Sauer is banned from having a familiar due to past transgressions, thereby limiting his magic-casting abilities. Unfortunately for the surly, Prussian warlock, he has no choice but to work with enthusiastic Penny as a familiar. They immediately clash like dried roan horsehair and honeycomb gathered by moonlight (it’s a terrible spell combination, ask anyone).

Casting spells has delightful perks Penny never could have dreamed of, but also greater dangers. Someone is targeting Penny. Willem and Penny must work together to catch their enemy, and if their ploy requires a little kissing on the side, who is to question the rules of magic?

What The Hex is the funny sequel to Jessica Clare’s Go Hex Yourself. I loved Go Hex Yourself and had high expectations for the sequel. I recommend reading the books in order as some magical world-building and character continuations would help you understand what is happening in book two. Overall this was a fun book with some spice, fake dating and a bit of mystery.

Penny has been waiting for years to be picked to be a familiar by a witch. At age 30, she feels really stuck in her life and just wants some excitement. She’d also love a relationship like her friend Reggie found with her witch, Ben. When Ben and Reggie come to her with a situation: be a familiar for a witch who’s not completely above board, she says yes without thinking about the consequences. And that’s how she meets Willem. Willem is very uptight and rigid, has some control issues, and doesn’t seem to remember how to smile. All he is focused on is revenge for the wrongs that have cost him his magic and his livelihood. When Penny and Willem agree to pretend to be dating to cover for the illegal magic they’re making, Penny finds the excitement she’s looking for and a whole lot more.

When Willem and Penny first meet, they instantly can’t stand each other. They are the definition of grumpy and sunshine. But of course, their fake dating turns into some hot and smutty scenes. Watching these two fall for each other was so much fun. Willem is the type of stoic man who’s a pleasure to watch fall apart. Penny also finds the confidence she is missing as she pushes his buttons. When the two of them get together, it’s electrifying. I love watching a man be vulnerable, and Willem truly learns how to be a better person thanks to Penny’s support and security. Swoon. There are some very open-door sex scenes with a lot of heat. There’s a good amount of dirty talk as well. Let’s just say neither Willem nor Penny are shy.

When we meet Willem, he is focused on redemption for past wrongs. When the council wrongly arrests him, there is a fun mystery that Penny, with the help of her friends, has to solve to save Willem’s life. It was great to see Ben and Reggie again and see how their relationship had evolved. A stand-out character for me, though, was Pip the squirrel, Penny’s beloved pet, who gives her her first taste of love and loyalty that her absent parents aren’t able to. To no one’s surprise, Willem is at first horrified by living with a rodent. As he falls for Penny, he also falls for her adorable sidekick.  

There were two flaws for me: Firstly, I wasn’t a fan of the epilogue. It would have been a perfectly entertaining read for me without it. And secondly, Penny has a bit of an annoying way of talking that grated on me as a reader instead of endearing itself to me. However, once I got used to it, it did disappear for me.

All in all, this is an enjoyable sequel. I loved living in Jessica’s quirky and magical world again.

Thank you to Berkley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.