Serpent's Kiss

Melissa de la Cruz
Serpent's Kiss
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Hyperion Books
Release Date
June 2012
Book 2 of The Witches of East End
Contemporary Romance, Fantasy Romance, Paranormal with Romantic Elements

The intriguing Beauchamp family, introduced in the New York Times bestselling Witches of East End, returns in Serpent's Kiss, with dizzying plot twists and spellbinding magic.

Joanna and her daughters, bookish Ingrid and wild-child Freya, are just settling into the newfound peace that has been cast over their small, off-the map town of North Hampton. With the centuries-old restriction against practicing magic lifted, casting spells, mixing potions, and curing troubled souls has never felt so good for the three witches. That is, until everything gets turned upside down—from Joanna's organized kitchen to Ingrid's previously nonexistent love life to Freya's once unshakeable faith in her sexy soul mate, Killian Gardiner.

When Freya's twin brother, Freddie, suddenly returns, escaped from Limbo and professing innocence on a long-ago crime, Freya should be ecstatic. The golden boy can do no wrong. Or can he? Freddie blames no other than her fiancÉ Killian for his downfall, and enlists Freya's help to prove it. Now Freya doesn't know who to believe or trust.

And for the first time in—well, forever, really—Ingrid is also busy in love. Matt Noble, the handsome and charming police detective, has won her heart. But can romance work between a virgin witch and a mortal who doesn't believe in magic? Things get even more complicated when it appears Ingrid is harboring the prime suspects in Matt's police investigation.

To add to the chaos, a dead spirit is attempting to make contact with Joanna—but does it mean to bring harm or help? Joanna asks her sort-of ex-husband Norman to help figure it out, only to accidentally invite him to a Thanksgiving dinner with a dapper gentleman she's recently begun dating.
As the witches pull together to discover the serpent within their midst and the culprit behind Freddie's imprisonment, everything is thrown into peril. Will the discovery come too late to save those they love most?

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Jun 13, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
89 people found the following review helpful
Whoever coined the phrase ‘second book slump' hasn't read the Witches of East End series. With excellent world-building, sweet and spicy romances abounding and enough mystery and deception to keep the plot rolling nicely, this series shows no signs of slowing down whatsoever. All the promise of last year's debut was fulfilled in this book, and I have no doubt the series will only continue to grow from here.

Now that the restrictions over using magic have been rescinded, the lives of the Beauchamp woman should be near perfect: Freya can mix her love potions at the bar at which she works, making it a hot spot for love, lust, and everything in between, while thoroughly enjoying every moment with Killian, her hopelessly sexy lover, who conquered incredible odds to stay by her side; her sister Ingrid can proudly hold her ‘consulting hours' in the library where she works, healing and guiding the residents of North Hampton who come to her for help or advice—and to date Matt Noble, the local police detective whose gentle flirting has finally led to something closer to a relationship than Ingrid has ever experienced. Even their mother, Johanna, has a suitor, the debonair, courtly Harold Atkins, who is the first man since her absent husband to ever come near to sweeping Johanna off her feet.

But life is not nearly that easy for these immortal goddesses. Freya's twin brother, Freddie, who has been imprisoned by the Valkyries for generations, has finally escaped, and is hiding out in North Hampton with only Freya to help him. Freddie is convinced that Killian is actually the man who betrayed him and will do anything to change Freya's mind about her beloved.

Meanwhile, Ingrid has become the unwitting caretaker of some magical creatures who are trapped in North Hampton and are causing enough trouble to catch the attention of one Detective Noble. But can a man who doesn't believe in magic trust her new houseguests? In the middle of it all, Joanna is being contacted by spirits who are desperate for her help, and to warn her of an imminent catastrophe. In a world where the commonplace and fantastic are always side-by-side, is there anyone the Beauchamp women can trust?

There is an inherent contradiction in the Beauchamp ladies that I have only begun to really appreciate. They might be enormously powerful immortal goddesses, but they are uniquely human at the same time. I was frustrated for a time during this book by their reactions, especially Ingrid's insecurities, Freya's indecisiveness, and Joanna's inability to divine their problems much more quickly than she did. But it struck me in the course of this story: the heart of this book comes from the fact that each of these women, as powerful and as wise as they are, are dealing with very human issues and very human heartbreaks. The magic is found in the middle, where their lives as bartenders, librarians and gardeners intersect with their magical powers, and the little moments are as important as the book's overarching story of deception and retribution.

Melissa de la Cruz' world-building skills never fail to impress me. The worlds of North Hampton—both the mundane and the magical—are beautifully created, and the characters who populate the town all have their own wonderful idiosyncrasies that I've grown to love. Most of all, though, the history of the Beauchamps, and the detailed mythology that is the basis for their identities and their powers was fascinating. I learned something from every chapter about Norse mythology, and that depth made each scene come to vivid life.

The pace of this book seemed faster than the first book, most likely because the stakes start out much higher, but it developed with more subtlety. Enough information was kept back to keep the reader off-balance without causing too much confusion. Because each chapter deals with a different character, the books reads almost serially, which did make it a little tricky to remember all the details of every plot line, but succeeded very well at drawing out the anticipation of every episode. It was a real struggle not to give in to the temptation to flip ahead and find out just where all these plotlines were going, but I promise you, the journey is well worth it. Revelations abound, and, for all the serious subject matters and dark mysteries, there are some sensational lighter moments, as well.

A word about my favorite character, because I have been waiting a full year to see Killian again. As in the last book, there is little cut-and-dried about Freya's lover, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The ambiguity and suspicions that swirl around him actually only attracted me more, because each scene added layers of complexities to an already fascinating character, and kept me on the edge of my seat waiting for an answer, or validation of my hunches. When the moment finally came, and the truth was, at last (mostly) laid bare, I was as surprised as any of the characters and am now, once again, near desperate for the next addition to the Beauchamp Family saga.

This series is quickly become a summertime addiction of mine. With its blend of coming-of-age stories, romances and paranormal mystery, each scene has something to enjoy and savor. My only regret is that there is another year until the third book (The Winds of Salem) is released—I'll be on tenterhooks until then!
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