The Only Purple House in Town
Grade : C+

One of these things is not like the others’ is the refrain that was going through my head for most of Ann Aguirre’s The Only Purple House in Town, which, on Goodreads, was listed as the fourth book in her Fix-It Witches series but which Amazon lists as a standalone. Amazon has it right. Going into this book thinking it’s the next in that series is a mistake, as other than having some peripheral secondary characters, it is quite different in tone, worldbuilding and romance. In fact, reading it, I had a hard time believing it was written by the same author. So as a fan of Ms. Aguirre’s witchy and galactic love series this one was a disappointment.

Iris Collins has never felt accepted by any of her family members other than her sister, Olive. Her relatives are pyschic vampires but Iris's powers have never manifested. When she inherits a great aunt’s fixer-upper house in St. Claire, Illinois, it’s a chance for Iris to start over in a new place and hopefully make some new friends. Her first step upon arriving is to advertise for some roommates so that she can afford to make some home improvements and pay off some debts.

Eli Reese is a hawk shifter and a successful app developer but used to be a nerdy kid. In their younger days they attended the same school, where Iris once defended him from some school bullies, and he’s never forgotten her even if she doesn’t remember him. In fact he’s kept track of her on social media regularly, admitting to himself that his behavior borders on stalking, but he’d always been curious about what was happening in her life. In St. Claire to help his Gamma sell her house, Eli sees Iris in a café and recognizes her, approaching her to re-introduce himself. However Iris thinks he’s answering her ad for roommates, and Eli ends up going along with her as she thinks he’s looking for a place to stay (on account of him selling his grandmother’s house). He moves in and since - based on their initial misunderstood conversation - she thinks he flips houses and builds websites, she also enlists his help in home improvements and updating her website for selling her homemade jewelry. Could this be Eli’s chance to make good on his long time crush on Iris and show her how good they could be together?

The first two thirds of the story basically revolve around Iris meeting the bunch of new people who become her roommates and the work that they do around the house. There’s an older, grumpy single man, a divorced older woman, a young witch who’s broken up with her girlfriend, and a young trans person who’s been outed by a cousin and no longer feels safe in their Evangelical home. Then there’s a stereotypical nosy neighbor who causes them multiple problems. Iris and Eli end up taking dancing lessons together and somehow this leads to them having romantic feelings and sharing a few kisses and voilà! they’re in love. But family secrets and other revelations lead to a rushed third act, a break-up, some more magical things and then a happy ending for Eli and Iris. Although marketed as a romance, The Only Purple House in Town definitely has more of a women’s fiction vibe, especially as regards Iris’s growth and discoveries which, combined with her making new friends, make the romance with Eli appear more as an afterthought. The story shines in making some eclectic characters into a found family and that’s its strong point. But as a paranormal romance it falls flat. I’m not sure where the author’s writing will take her next, but I’m hoping it will be more in the style of her earlier works.

Reviewed by Maria Rose
Grade : C+

Sensuality: Kisses

Review Date : January 6, 2024

Publication Date: 07/2023

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Maria Rose

I'm a biochemist and a married mother of two. Reading has been my hobby since grade school, and I've been a fan of the romance genre since I was a teenager. Sharing my love of good books by writing reviews is a recent passion of mine, but one which is richly rewarding.
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