Against the Grain, by Melanie Harding-Shaw, is a great little comfort read, best enjoyed with a cup of your favourite hot beverage (hot chocolate for me) and a plate of warm baked goods close at hand. Part of the Witchy Fiction collection, it is a novella combining a couple of delightful characters with romance, magic, and suspense. Just the recipe for a relaxing weekend read.
Powerful witch Trinity and her shape-shifting demon familiar, Saifa, have to keep moving. If they settle in any one place too long, bad things happen. So when she rents a flat over a bistro in the Wellington suburb of Karori, with an appealing baker (Charlie) for a landlord, she’s torn. She knows better than to get romantically involved, even with a man who is sympathetic to her physical ailments (coeliac disease) and who enlists her as a taste tester for all sorts of gluten-free goodies.
But then she discovers she can’t leave Karori, even if she wanted to. Someone has built a magical barrier around the suburb, trapping Saifa, and by extension, her. Who would want to trap them, and why? Is the perpetrator after any witch who falls into the trap, or after her specifically? While they search for answers, her romantic life gets more complicated, and the danger mounts for her, Saifa, and her new friend, Charlie.
The romance in this story was sweet, but underdeveloped. The real sparks were between Trinity and Saifa. Their relationship—intense, conflicted, and more than a little snarky—was the best part of the story.