Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Review: The League of Gentlewomen Witches by India Holton

The League of Gentlewomen Witches by India Holton
Series: Dangerous Damsels, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Fantasy Romance 
The League of Gentlewomen Witches cover
ISBN: 9780593200186
EBook Source: Publisher
Audiobook Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the teahouse…

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. With all the world scrambling after the amulet, Alex and Charlotte join forces to steal it together. If only they could keep their pickpocketing hands to themselves! If Alex’s not careful, he might just steal something else—such as Charlotte’s heart.

As the prophesized heir of Black Beryl and the niece of the formidable head of the Wicken League, it is Charlotte Pettifer’s duty to retrieve Beryl’s long-lost amulet…even though she’d much more like to be strolling through Hertfordshire like Elizabeth Bennet. But duty calls and thus Charlotte must answer. Except all the witches and pirates in the area are also trying to steal it, which is rather irritating. And none of her competition is so maddening as pirate Alex O’Riley. The rogue is no Mr. Darcy but soon Charlotte decides she has no better option than to join forces with the man to retrieve her amulet. Their partnership is temporary as there is no way that a witch could ever fall in love with a pirate…is there?

The League of Gentlewomen Witches is a delightful romp filled with magic and – despite witches’ love for orderliness – mayhem. India Holton’s second Dangerous Damsels novel has all the wit and charm of the first but the story and romance feel like they have more depth.

Charlotte isn’t entirely likeable at the start of The League of Gentlewomen Witches and I quite liked that. For all that she references Elizabeth Bennet, Charlotte is somewhat of an Emma Woodhouse. Charlotte comes into her own over the course of the story, though definitely not like a Jane Austen heroine would. I enjoyed watching her rebel and become more of a free spirit (within witchy reason, of course). As for Alex, the Irish pirate is a dashing rogue with some hidden wounds caused by those who should have loved and protected him as a child. The two of them clash and spar at first, but there’s an attraction neither can deny for very long. They slide into love seamlessly and it was a delight to see.

Charlotte and Alex are not the only ones searching for the amulet – or for our adventurous heroes. Pirates and witches alike are on their tail which provides action and amusement. If you enjoyed The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels then you’ll like revisiting with Cecelia and Ned, along with some other familiar pirates. There are quite a few viewpoints and characters with their own agendas in this book and there’s definitely at least one that could have been eliminated to make the story feel tighter. Still, The League of Gentlewomen Witches is great fun and as a Janeite I was particularly charmed by all the Austen references. Holton has style in spades and the world she has created is vibrant and highly entertaining. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what she does next with the Dangerous Damsels book.

FTC Disclosure: I purchased the audiobook and received the EBook for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.