GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Book Review: A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon by Sarah Hawley | I Smell Sheep

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Monday, March 6, 2023

Book Review: A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon by Sarah Hawley

A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon
By Sarah Hawley
March 7, 2023
Genre: paranormal romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Berkley
Mariel Spark knows not to trust a demon, especially one that wants her soul, but what’s a witch to do when he won’t leave her side—and she kind of doesn’t want him to?

Mariel Spark is prophesied to be the most powerful witch seen in centuries of the famed Spark family, but to the displeasure of her mother, she prefers baking to brewing potions and gardening to casting hexes. When a spell to summon flour goes very wrong, Mariel finds herself staring down a demon—one she inadvertently summoned for a soul bargain.

Ozroth the Ruthless is a legend among demons. Powerful and merciless, he drives hard bargains to collect mortal souls. But his reputation has suffered ever since a bargain went awry—if he can strike a bargain with Mariel, he will earn back his deadly reputation. Ozroth can't leave Mariel's side until they complete a bargain, which she refuses to do (turns out some humans are attached to their souls).

But the witch is funny. And curvy. And disgustingly yet endearingly cheerful. Becoming awkward roommates quickly escalates when Mariel, terrified to confess the inadvertent summoning to her mother, blurts out that she's dating Ozroth. As Ozroth and Mariel struggle with their opposing goals and maintaining a fake relationship, real attraction blooms between them. But Ozroth has a limited amount of time to strike the deal, and if Mariel gives up her soul, she'll lose all her emotions—including love—which will only spell disaster for them both.

Mariel Spark comes from a family line of highly powerful witches. The problem is, though Mariel is prophesized to be a powerhouse, her magic is a perennial flop. Despite her best efforts, Mariel can never live up to her family’s expectations and her purported legacy. While practicing her craft, Mariel accidently summons legendary demon Ozroth the Ruthless and unintentionally binds him to earth until their soul pact is complete. Ozroth must capture her soul before he can return to the underworld. Only Mariel would prefer her soul remain intact, and so begins a game of cat and mouse. “Oz” has his own issues. Since a recent soul acquisitions, he hasn’t been quite the same. He’s been feeling, empathizing just a little too much and the demon powers that be aren’t happy. Mariel and Oz form a tenuous alliance, posing as romantic partners until they can find a mutually beneficial solution. Soon, however, the fake romance begins to take real roots, putting them both in danger.

A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon was a quick read, rather fun and entertaining. I literally laughed out loud several times throughout. I also liked the author’s wink and nod to contemporary societal issues and events such as the environment, healthcare system, and even the college admission scandal. I did not, however, like Mariel. Her character was all over the place ranging from a kind, loving amateur botanist to a petty, impetuous child. Mariel’s mother is an absolute caricature with no redeeming qualities, yet their issues are neatly tied up by the end of the book. The romance aspect is graphic, so if you’re not into that sort of thing, you’ve been warned. Usually, I don’t mind, but since I hadn’t connected to the couple, I found myself glossing over these scenes.

This book leads nicely into the coming second installment featuring Oz’s mentor and demon baddie Astaroth and Mariel’s fitness fanatic witch friend Calladia. Astaroth is a promising character with style and swagger to spare. I am intrigued and may pick up the second installment of this series.

Three Sheep

Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:
Sarah Hawley is an author of romance and fantasy novels. She was a winner of RevPit 2018, and her short stories and satirical articles have been published by Hooked, Slackjaw, The Belladonna Comedy, and Points in Case. She co-hosts the Wicked Wallflowers Club podcast about romance fiction, which was featured on Entertainment Weekly’s “Must List” as “a compelling reminder of why the oft-dismissed genre is a real force in cultural conversations about consent and desire.”

Sarah has an MA in archaeology and has excavated at an Inca site in Chile, a Bronze Age palace in Turkey, and a medieval abbey in England. When not dreaming up whimsical love stories, she can be found reading, dancing, or cuddling her two cats.

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