Friday, October 25, 2019

Sarah's Review: Xeni

Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Publisher: Rebekah Weatherspoon (October 4th, 2019)
Series: Loose Ends, 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance (Queer, M/F)

She just wanted to claim her inheritance. What she got was a husband…

Xeni Everly-Wilkins has ten days to clean out her recently departed aunt’s massive colonial in Upstate New York. With the feud between her mom and her sisters still raging even in death, she knows this will be no easy task, but when the will is read Xeni quickly discovers the decades old drama between the former R&B singers is just the tip of the iceberg. The Secrets, lies, and a crap ton of cash spilled on her lawyer’s conference room table all come with terms and conditions. Xeni must marry before she can claim the estate that will set her up for life and her aunt has just the groom in mind. The ruggedly handsome and deliciously thicc Scotsman who showed up at her aunt’s memorial, bagpipes at the ready.

When his dear friend and mentor Sable Everly passed away, Mason McInroy knew she would leave a sizable hole in his heart. He never imagined she’d leave him more than enough money to settle the debt that’s keeping him from returning home to Scotland. He also never imagined that Sable would use her dying breaths to play match-maker, trapping Mason and her beautiful niece in a marriage scheme that comes with more complications than either of them need.

With no choice but to say I do, the unlikely pair try to make the best of a messy situation. They had no plans to actually fall in love.

**This is a stand alone romance that can be read along with RAFE: A Buff Male Nanny. It features a woman sick to death of her family’s sh*t and a plus-size Scotsman who just wants to make sweet, sweet music. And love.**

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Sarah's Review:

Xeni is a wonderful addition to the world of Rebekah Weatherspoon. This is book #2 in her Loose Ends collection where secondary characters from other novels get the chance to shine (and find their HEA!)  I am not sure if this counts as a trope, but I love it when minor characters get to be the main course! We met Mason as Silas’ cousin in Sanctuary and Xeni is part of Sloan’s girl squad in Rafe (and, of course, the girls chime in during this book as well).

Xeni is part of a large, complicated, musical family from California. When her Aunt Sable dies in upstate New York, Xeni is the one she stipulates in her will to close out her estate. We find her waiting by a river to pay her last respects with her aunt’s close friend group when Mason arrives late to play the bagpipes. Xeni doesn’t know what to expect, but Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” is not it; however she sees her aunt’s humor in the request. That is something I love about Weatherspoon’s writing, her pop culture references are so well done and seem to fit right into my kind of humor. This book deals with grief, as both Xeni and Mason lost a close family member and friend, but the grief arc does not drive this book. Xeni’s complex feelings around her relationships with her family as her aunt’s death reveal a surprise that reverberates across time and place. Mason also lost a friend when Sable passed and her will holds surprises for him, which brings his complicated family dynamics across the ocean from Scotland. I don’t want to go much here because of spoilers, but these complex and nuanced feelings and relationships were so well written.

For Xeni and Mason to get what Sable left them, they must get married. Both are aghast at the lawyer’s office. Xeni just wanted to close the estate and get back to her pre-schoolers in LA, but before she knew it, she had a husband. She and Mason agree to make the most of a weird situation, have a party, and tie the knot. Neither expected to catch feelings so fast.

Part of what I loved about these characters is how real and honest they are. Even though they are dealing with loss and grief, from present and past relationships, this book is a low angst comfort read. Which I think is what Weatherspoon does best. That does not mean this book doesn’t tackle hard things, neither of them wants kids. Xeni is open about a miscarriage and an abortion that was the right choice for her. Both Xeni and Mason identify as bisexual and I think this book does queer mf romance so well. Neither are straight, so they have to navigate the heteronormativity and relationship expectations inside the bedroom and out. This is where Weatherspoon’s heroes shine bright. Mason is a large, fat, immigrant, queer man. He is a cinnamon roll who treats those around him with kindness and compassion even when he is not always treated that way. He is a gentle giant who doesn't always fit into the world around him. He is socially awkward, hiding from his problems as a cook on his cousin’s farm in a small NY town. His size also means that he does not easily fit into physical spaces either. When the will is read at the lawyer’s office there is not a chair large enough for him. Xeni notices this and asks that the next legal meeting be held when he has a space to sit. She looks after him from the very beginning.

Along with being bisexual, Xeni is a witch. This is not a paranormal romance, her witch identity aligns with her spiritual way of understanding the world. If I had any complaint about this book, it would be that we didn’t get enough of Xeni’s witchiness. The glimpses we get are glorious! Mason has not seen the movie Practical Magic as Xeni tries to explain her bad luck in love. (I looooooove Practical Magic and those are exactly the kinds of witches I’d love to be. Living in a big, old house with my sisters, by the ocean, with the women of the town whipping up spells to put awful men in their place. A girl can dream….) We also see the nature of witches woven into the details of the story,

Have they convinced you to join their coven?

When Mason is suspicious of the women who work on the farm convince Xeni to spill lovely details of their blossoming romance- in the best way. The New York girls squad, Liz, Ginny, and Maya, are just as important as Xeni’s girlfriend group in California. It is so refreshing to read about women bonding, loving, and being good friends!

Mason also asks Xeni,

Are all the women in your family witches?  

And she answers,

All women are witches, period.  Like I said it just matters if you embrace it.  If you believe.

At this point in the book, I’m like a little girl reading Peter Pan saying, yes I believe! I believe in Xeni and Mason, in Rebekah Weatherspoon, and the power of witchy love!

While Rafe will always hold a special place in my heart, Xeni is an excellent 5 star read! Rebekah Weatherspoon writes hot sex scenes, has amusing pop culture references that tickle my funny bone, and writes both love and friend relationships par excellence!


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Source: eARC

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Thanks for the review, Sarah! 


Until Next Time,

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