December 11, 2021

ARC REVIEW: Heart of a Witch (Embracing Darkness Collection Book 2) by Rebecca L. Garcia


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Heart of a Witch Clean

𝑨 𝒗𝒆𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒇𝒖𝒍 𝒇𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒂𝒔𝒚 𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒂𝒍𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒓𝒐𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒆𝒄𝒕 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒇𝒂𝒏𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑩𝒓𝒊𝒅𝒈𝒆 𝑲𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒅𝒐𝒎 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑨 𝑻𝒐𝒖𝒄𝒉 𝒐𝒇 𝑫𝒂𝒓𝒌𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔.

I’d never particularly liked humans, but I’d never wanted to kill one. Until now.

Hidden in a kingdom that hates witches, I’m forced to hide what I am. With my sister working in a secret dark magic club, and our family’s shop gaining unwanted attention, things couldn’t be worse when the notorious witch hunter, Damian Shaw, comes to town.

When my sister shows up dead, and my family’s name is called into question, we’re forced to adopt new aliases and leave the home we cherished. As I watch my life fall apart, I vow to destroy the hunter responsible, but his punishment would not be swift. Death was too easy.

Redforest is a quaint town, with a church, pretty shops, and like any good town, a dark past. When my family and I move in, I set my sights on the Shaw family, quickly learning everything I can about them. Damian’s son, Elijah, is the hunter’s greatest pride. His heir. His confidante. The only family he trusts.

I come up with a plan. I am going to shatter every good thing in Damian’s life, ending with his son. My goal: make Elijah Shaw fall in love with me, twist him into the very thing his father hates, then kill him.

With my heart challenged, the attraction growing, I find myself trapped in a deadly game. In a twist of fate, Elijah might just end up being the death of me.

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Heart of a Witch (Embracing Darkness Collection Book 2) by Rebecca L. Garcia
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: December 14, 2021
Format: eARC

Confucius once said, “when you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” Victoria Amberwood doesn’t particularly care if her quest for revenge costs her her life. She’s determined to make the witch hunter who killed her sister suffer and pay for what he did. Once she moves with her siblings to the witch hunter’s home village and right under his nose, the family puts the plan in motion. Things get more complicated after meeting Elijah Shaw (the eldest son of the witch hunter) - Will her head and her heart get in the way of revenge? The story that followed in Rebecca L. Garcia’s Heart of a Witch was dark and gripping - I couldn’t stop reading once I had started. 

Ms. Garcia’s characters are always complex - I savor any opportunity to read about morally grey characters and their journies. Victoria knows that using dark magic is wrong but she sees it as the only way to protect her family. A classic case of good intentions coupled with questionable methods. Or in other words, do the ends justify the means? Her struggles with dark magic and its pull are a big part of the book, and I enjoyed getting to see her growth over the course of the story.  Victoria has built up her walls high (with good reason), but Elijah slowly chipped away at them with small acts of kindness and a whole lot of patience. Ms. Garcia did a great job balancing the emotion and the action with the spicy moments (which were so worth the wait once they arrived). I could not get enough of Elijah and Victoria’s chemistry. Alex and Cassian, Victoria’s siblings, were quite interesting characters too and I would love to see stories focused on just them (especially on Alex’s relationship with a not-to-be spoiled character). 

I would happily recommend this book to paranormal romance and dark fantasy romance fans. In terms of audience level, I would place it at new adult. While you can read it as a standalone, I do recommend reading Spellbound first for a more enjoyable experience. Spellbound offers some worldbuilding and backstory to the Istinia that isn’t present in Heart of a Witch

Thank you to the author, NetGalley and Victory Editing for my complimentary review copy. I also want to express my appreciation to Book of Matches Media and The Next Step PR for allowing me to be a part of promotional tours for the book. 

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 My dreams were like an ocean of layers. They got darker the farther I fell. Blue robes, daggers, and dead people haunted my nightmares, and in the last one before waking, shouting erupted, words pounding against my soul as I felt hands grab my arms.

My eyes fluttered open, and I jumped to my feet. I punched Cas in the arm, pushing him away from me. “What in the underworld are you doing?” I asked breathlessly.

Tears glossed his dark brown eyes. “I had to wake you! You were right.”

I ran cold. I’d never heard those words leave his mouth. “Cas?” I asked tentatively.

“It’s Ember. I waited up for her, but she didn’t come back, and it was almost three in the morning, so I went down to the club and…” His hand shot to his mouth, and a tear escaped into the gaps between his fingers. “The hunter attacked with his team. The whole place is torn apart, and they found dead bodies, sacrificed.” He paused for a short moment. “It’s enough to condemn everyone inside. I ran, but I couldn’t find Ember. I went to the kissing tree, but she wasn’t there. Y-you, don’t think she would have gone back to the club?”

My heart somehow felt heavier in my chest. “Where did he take them for trial?”

“He’s already begun the…” He tugged at his collar. “Punishments.”

Bile bit up my throat. “Where?”

“Town square. I was going there next.”

I pushed him out of the way and grabbed my boots, sharing a glance with my brother before running out the door. I prayed to deities I didn’t believe in that Ember was far away from all this. Anyone who’d heard of Damian Shaw knew that no witches passed a trial with him. If he caught us, we were already dead.

My stomach knotted as I ran toward the town square. Stars twinkled against the matte-black night, but the first hues of blue had already faded the speckled silver in the distance. It had to be four, maybe five o’clock, based on the sky. I’d heard he held trials at night because it was when he believed a witch’s powers were weakest. His logic was stupid, but then he was human and a priest to boot.

Please, Ember, don’t be there. Please.

If she was, then I’d have to expose us, because there was no way I was letting her die. I’d fight them. I should have brought weapons. I mentally kicked myself for not thinking of it back at the house. I heard footsteps behind me in the distance, but I didn’t turn to see who it was.

The town square was alight with torches and oil lamps, illuminating the freshly erected gallows and jeering crowd. My gaze climbed the wooden platform, and I found my worst nightmare come true.

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 Read the First Chapter HERE

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Rebecca lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband and son. Originally from England, you can find her drinking tea, writing new worlds, and designing covers. She writes fantasy romance. She devoured every book she was given and fell in love with magical worlds, and when she got older, her imagination grew with her.

When she's not writing or spending time with her family, you can find her traveling, and hosting book signings with Spellbinding Events.

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