Book Chat 10: Three Mages and a Margarita by Annette Marie
Let’s just get this out of the way – not only did I start this one early, but I’ve also read further in the series. The only other Book Chat I’ve done that with this year is Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows. Spoiler alert: I’m now a fan of Annette Marie!
Still though, we need to stick with the program and means starting with the book details.
Threes Mages and a Margarita (The Guild Codex: Spellbound)
Book 1 of 8 (other connected series)
Amazon: 1,543 ratings, 4.7 avg
Goodreads: 15,697 ratings, 4.1 avg
Broke, almost homeless, and recently fired. Those are my official reasons for answering a wanted ad for a skeevy-looking bartender gig.
It went downhill the moment they asked for a trial shift instead of an interview—to see if I’d mesh with their “special” clientele. I think that part went great. Their customers were complete jerks, and I was an asshole right back. That’s the definition of fitting in, right?
I expected to get thrown out on my ass. Instead, they … offered me the job?
It turns out this place isn’t a bar. It’s a guild. And the three cocky guys I drenched with a margarita during my trial? Yeah, they were mages. Either I’m exactly the kind of takes-no-shit bartender this guild needs, or there’s a good reason no one else wants to work here.
So what’s a broke girl to do? Take the job, of course—with a pay raise.
Again, this is one of my favorite reads of 2021! However, as usual, not every other reader felt the same. Shockingly though, there were absolutely no 1 star reviews on Amazon. I didn’t even find a lot of truly angry reviews as you sometimes do. Most were simply ‘this wasn’t for me’. Here are the top complaints on amazon and GR from 2-3 star reviews:
-reverse harem feel but not actually a romance
-stereotypical characters/ tropes
Okay, I’m actually a little on their side here. I wasn’t sold on Tori myself – she seems to have a quick temper and seems to blame others for all the bad things in her life. I’ll also say she harped on how gorgeous the three mages were just a bit too much for me. There were also a few too many clothing descriptions for me personally. It did give Tori a more distinctive voice which helps since this is in first person. Additionally, those aren’t her only attributes and she quickly grew on me. It was soon rather easy to cheer for the lone human in a magical world.
Again, I can see the issues here. Without the author’s note in the blurb that this wasn’t a reverse harem, I would have been concerned. There’s also just not a lot of romance. Calling it a slow burn isn’t an exaggeration. I do enjoy UF with romance so I could have used more. And yes, I sought out spoilers so I can help you out if you have concerns in that regard!
Many seemed to feel it was too simplistic in its uses of stereotypical characters (such as the 3 Mages – one’s brash, one’s quiet, and one’s smart). I’m always okay with starting characters there as long as they develop or we at least learn more. As I’ve read ahead, yes, I think we learn more to round them out a bit.
As I’ve said before, I’m entirely okay with tropes. Yes, Tori as a mere human takes down magical beings and is found to be charming by all 3 sexy mages. Tropes never turn me off a book and this one worked for me.
Overall I’d give this a solid 4 stars! No, it’s not perfect but the vast majority of it worked for me. It’s light-hearted with sufficient action and logical worldbuilding/ character development for book 1 in a series and established world and includes a slow burn romance… and there’s NO CLIFFHANGER. This is definitely my preferred style of book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have continued reading. I am more than willing to try other books by this author and have already recommended her repeatedly.
And I’m going to recommend her to you if you’re good with the above comments. I’ve found other readers are often moody like me and search for specific things. Hopefully, I’ve given you sufficient information to determine whether this is the book for you.
For now, it’s time to switch gears and review Three Mages from a writing perspective. If that’s not your thing, skip down for the cat picture and book links.
This Book Chat has definitely helped me learn as a writer. Annette Marie is also now an inspiration for me. I love the multiple series set in a shared world and it’s something I want to do. This is another reason reading in our genre is so important, IMO. We can find authors who have succeeded in ways we have not and learn from them!
I have checked out her website and SM accounts – she had a reading order list that mixed the series and also a store for merchandise. Again, so much to inspire me along my path!
However, let’s chat a bit more about a writing analysis of this particular book.
As we’ve noted previously, this is often a top criticism. Having readers connect with our characters is so important but no character will work for every reader. As I noted above, Tori is a bit whiny, lusts after all 3 guys too frequently, and gives too much clothing detail. Some of these things will put readers off. These are also the details that make Tori unique.
I mentioned this in a previous book chat. Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson provides a bit too much details on guns and engines, but it gave her a distinctive voice. I think this is even more important when using the more intimate first person POV. Of course, if you use 3rd person and offer multiple POVs it’s also important to differentiate them so being unique is equally important there. 😉
I see this discussion often with readers and writers! There are various interpretations but here’s my take: a cliffhanger means the book’s plot/ initial action isn’t resolved vs a hook which introduces a new problem after the initial plot is settled. Regardless, there are so many opinions on whether readers like them and if they increase read through. I didn’t employ the technique in my first series, but I am using hooks in an upcoming trilogy. This series doesn’t use either and that gave me something to think about.
I had to ask myself: why do you want to keep reading?
My answer certainly won’t be the same as others, but…it’s the characters. I connected with and care about the characters. It’s also the world. Yes, there’s some tension and darkness, but the vast majority of the book is a light, fluffy escape from reality.
As I’ve read ahead, I’ve also started to depend on the author to continue to provide a similar experience which brings me to my next point.
The author added a note that it wasn’t Reverse Harem. Checking the reviews, I can see why. Some noted they wanted it to go that way or they’d be disappointed. Others were worried it would go that way and didn’t want that to happen. Readers expectations matter.
Meeting and exceeding readers’ expectations book after book is what creates our brand. Yes, I’ve rambled about this previously – see this blog post – so I won’t go into details here. Again though, I feel it’s important to mention that we understand the reader experience. One way to help with that is by reading!
Okay, fellow readers, that brings this Book Chat to an end! I know the holidays can be busy, but I hope you’ll join us for our next read by Steve Higgs. I originally noted it as Under a Blue Moon: Origin story for Blue Moon Investigations. That is book 11 in the series and not recommended as a first read so I’ve switched to Paranormal Nonsense which is book 1 in the series.
Until next time, please feel free to comment here or contact me through my website. I do love chatting with readers and writers alike!
Links to Book Chat reads:
2 thoughts on “Book Chat 10: Three Mages and a Margarita”
I think that you have done a really good analysis on this book Rennie. Plus you nailed it with your point that readers want to like characters and believe in the settings. I’ve not read this book but your post tempts me to go and check it out. Thank you.
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Thank you! I did enjoy the book and continue to read in the series so I (of course) recommend it! 😉 If you do check it out, you’ll have to let me know what you think!