ARC Review! Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible unionβ€”holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Simply put this book was awesome! I dont know what it is about 2019 but it has given us some truly amazing debuts, and this one has become a fast favourite of mine.

Louise Le Blanc (Lou) is a simple thief living on the street of Cesarine with her best friend Coco, there is one thing that differentiates her from her fellow pickpockets… shes a witch! One night Lou breaks into the wrong house looking for a ring that will protect her from the mysterious woman plaguing her dreams, she doesn’t realise then how her destiny is entwined with the annoyingly attractive Chasseur, but when fate intervenes and they are reunited they are forced into marriage to protect Lou’s life and Reids dignity. There is only one slight problem, if Reid finds out Lou is a witch her will burn her at the stake.

Lou’s journey is one I thrived reading about, and delved into so deeply I felt her emotions right along side her. She is a magnificently written character, unabashedly witty, unwaveringly loyal to those she loves and un-tamable to a fault. She is a character you cannot help but love and I got far too invested in her outcome. Raised to be a sacrifice she has an incredible will to live, and will do anything, even entering the home of her enemy to save her life.

Reid is pretty much the polar opposite he believes that humour and debauchery are the devils work, blindly loyal to those he believes in without truly understanding their beliefs, and one to follow the rules to the letter, these two couldn’t be further apart. However, Reid shows his true colours later on in the book, and I found myself living for their scenes together. From the moment they meet when he thinks shes a heathen, to the moment their feelings and relationship change.

You all know how I love a good side character and Coco and Ansel are definitely two of my favourites. Again these two are polar opposites, but the one thing they have in common is their friendship with Lou, their willingness to enter the Lions den to save her, and on Ansels side, the willingness to go against everything he has been taught to protect someone he loves. These two make for a hilarious duo and I was just as invested in their outcome as I was Lou and Reids.

One of the things that really draws you into this book is Mahurin’s descriptions. I was dragged headfirst into 17th century France with all of its joie de vivre and amour. She manages to twist the fantastical with what I feel France at that stage was truly like. The Catholic church in control, pressing its beliefs on others, and naming those who didn’t believe in the same Gods heretics. You can truly feel in this part of what it was like to be a woman in those days, being your husbands possession, even if Lou disagrees with this ideal vehemently. Whether its describing a setting, a character or a specific scene I flew through the pages always needing more, never wanting to leave.

The romance in this book was brilliantly written. Sometimes the enemies/lovers dynamic can be slightly rushed, or a bit to on/off for my liking. I could feel the emotions changing between Lou and Reid as the story progressed, and I found myself eager for them to realise the extent of those feelings. It was never rushed, and I felt it progressed at a speed that kept the reader wanting more, without tormenting us too much by dragging it out.

Though I wouldn’t say the book ended on a cliffhanger per-se, it definitely leaves the reader wanting more. And with the amount of twists and turns, and wholly unpredictable parts of the book I’m dreading/eagerly anticipating the next book in the series. There were some parts I definitely did not see coming, and my jaw actually dropped at some points, but they were written into the plot so effortlessly you wonder why you didn’t predict it from the start.

I know I’ve said this before but 2019 has blessed us with some truly amazing debuts, and this is another 5/5 for me. With steamy but realistic romance, a truly engrossing story line and characters you cant help but root for, I would highly recommend this book for any Fantasy fan, especially fans of Sarah J Maas.

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