Review: Three Mages and a Margarita - Annette Marie

Three Mages and a Margarita by Annette Marie
Series: The Guild Codex: Spellbound Series #1

My rating: {★★★★☆}

Urban Fantasy Paranormal
Expected publication: September 14th 2018 by Dark Owl Fantasy Inc.

Source: ARC sent by Publisher
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 me to do 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 dickheads, 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.

Note: The three mages are definitely sexy, but this series isn't a reverse harem. It's 100% fun, sassy, fast-paced urban fantasy.
** I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes were taken from the advanced readers copy and as such may not be accurate or present in the final version**

I have to admit, even though Annette Marie is the author for this one (and one of my absolute favourite authors EVER!) I was concerned that this book wouldn't be for me. And yet I essentially INHALED it.

It wasn't quite 'in-one-sitting' but I could barely bring myself to put it down. If I didn't have a 5am start and a gym instructor that would have KNOWN I didn't get enough sleep and then would have KNOWN it was my fault and then exploited it... Also you know - life and commitments and the four year old who doesn't understand the concept of sleeping in. So I had to resort to reading while I also tried to concoct food for the family, reading while I watched the above mentioned child in the bath and reading during every free moment until I finally finished the book in less than twenty-four hours since I first picked it up!

So why was I so worried that this would be the first Annette Marie book that I didn't love?

Well let's just start with the fact that it is definitely not my usual kind of read. Urban Fantasy is only something I've recently been finding myself wanting to read and to be honest I normally prefer Epic Fantasy or at least a world with an entirely different realm or two attached to it and far reaching fantasy world building.

The world of The Guild Codex is more that of magical realism - humans exist as the 'normal' society and Mythics (those with magical ability) live amongst humans keeping their abilities secret and having their own society of Guilds and even their own justice and policing system. While some author's might have skimped on world building Annette Marie didn't disappoint and I loved that everything, from the classes of magic to to the Guild system to the way the world worked and how people made money was included.

I was also concerned with the main character, Tori sounding like a bit of a hot head and making decisions that would frustrate me to no end: Well, Tori is indeed the epitome of a hot headed ginger, but she's also smart, driven and courageous and was the kind of MC that really grew on me and one that I could relate to, get behind and I really enjoyed reading about her.

So needless to say, my worries were baseless and unnecessary - I loved this book.

I appreciated the first person POV (it's the first one of Annette's books that I've read in first person) and I loved being introduced to an entirely new world with entirely new characters and a new magic system and because it was new to Tori as well it didn't feel like there was any info dumping or long winded chapters getting to know the world.

The titular Three Mages were also great characters - each complex in his own way and I can't wait to find out more about them as the series goes on. There's a LOT more to them than we got to read about in this one book and I'm already intrigued with and attached to all of them!

The plot is fast paced, fun and full of action. I enjoyed all of the action scenes, particularly when there were physical manifestations of elemental magic involved.

There's not a whole lot of romance or even Annette Marie's trademark chemistry build up in this one - however I did enjoy what I read and I liked that it wasn't immediately apparent who the love interest would even be; my first guess was definitely off. Perhaps in consecutive books romance will play a bigger role in the plot/story, but for this one I appreciated that the emphasis was more on the bonds of friendship and the team of the three guys and Tori had such a great dynamic.

I would love to know more about what this series will be; I'm not sure if it's a trilogy or a series of 5 or 6 books (like Steel and Stone) where there is an overall plot arc that will be focused on, or if it will be a more long running episodic series but regardless this is a fantastic start and I am thrilled that Dark Arts and a Daiquiri (book two) comes out this year as well! All the more Annette Marie goodness for me to rave about and beg you to read!

**Note: Annette Marie has since confirmed that this will be an episodic series with no set length... So no overarching "big bad" but same MCs and theoretically no cliffhangers, although some plot elements will definitely carry through.**

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