Book Reviews

Shortbread and Shadows (Dreamspun Beyond, Hedge Witches Lonely Hearts Club 1) by Amy Lane at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Urban Fantasy / Magic / Wizards & Witches / Romance
Reviewed by Roger on 21-July-2020

Book Blurb

When a coven of hedge witches casts a spell for their hearts’ desires, the world turns upside down.


Bartholomew Baker is afraid to hope for his heart’s true desire—the gregarious woodworker who sells his wares next to Bartholomew at the local craft fairs—so he writes the spell for his baking business to thrive and allow him to quit his office job. He’d rather pour his energy into emotionally gratifying pastry! But the magic won’t allow him to lie, even to himself, and the spellcasting has unexpected consequences.


For two years Lachlan has been flirting with Bartholomew, but the shy baker with the beautiful gray eyes runs away whenever their conversation turns personal. He’s about to give up hope… and then Bartholomew rushes into a convention in the midst of a spellcasting disaster of epic proportions.


Suddenly everybody wants a taste of Bartholomew’s baked goods—and Bartholomew himself. Lachlan gladly jumps on for the ride, enduring rioting crowds and supernatural birds for a chance with Bartholomew. Can Bartholomew overcome the shyness that has kept him from giving his heart to Lachlan?


Book Review

What an unexpected gem! This was such a surprising read that took me to places I very much didn't expect. The story differs greatly from Amy Lane's typical angsty romances that I've read in the past. This book follows a group of modern-day witches whose most recent spell has gone terribly, terribly awry. What's fun about this is that some of the fallout of the spell has to do with Bartholomew's crush on Lachlan, the sexy woodworker whose booth is often next Bartholomew's at local fairs and conventions where they both sell their wares.

Bartholomew is one of the witches who cast the runaway spell. It's worth mentioning that he's so shy that he's never been able to bring himself to confess his feelings for Lachlan. As for the runaway spell, the witches all had to write down and then state their heart's desire aloud. The kicker is that for one reason or another, they ALL were lying (some to themselves) about what they really, truly wanted, and "magic" didn't seem too happy about that fact. Hence, it ripped out the "real" truth from all of them during the climax of the spell — and all manner of chaotic hijinks ensued. In fact, the beginning of this book read like a freight train running off the rails!

I loved the pining between Bartholomew and Lachlan. The sexual tension and energy between these two vibrates the pages. They also are real, complicated, and relatable human characters, which isn't surprising as Amy Lane is a master of building characters that feel relatable.

I also enjoyed the structure of the magical world in this first book of a new series. Although the witches are like everyday folks, feeling confused and unsure of themselves like the rest of us, they also have a great deal of power and ability, though they may not all realize it. It was this fact that especially endeared these characters to me. Lane deftly builds a world where magic feels both plausible and inevitable, and inserts this magical world seamlessly into our own.

This cosmic comedy of errors/romance had it all: a gripping plot, tender and funny moments, and some very steamy scenes. ‘Shortbread and Shadows’ is a fun and light start to a new series, and this delightful, quirky, heartwarming romance will make you believe in love again. I found this to be an imaginative modern-day romance that's infused with the whimsy of magical realism.

I was not only submerged in the sweet and tender relationship – but page after page, I fell deeper into the richly imagined world. And though the story revolves around the witches and their unfortunate spell, at its core, this story is about love. So what we get then, is a sweet, achingly romantic, lighthearted, and gentle story as these two men slowly reveal their genuine feelings for the other. And did I mention steamy? Oh my!

I loved this new quirky, heartwarming romance, and I cannot wait for the next installment. I look forward to seeing where this series is going to go next. If I could magically make it appear on my Kindle right now, I would!





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 158 pages/54387 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 21-July-2020
Price $4.99 ebook, $9.99 paperback
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