Del Rey has triumphed in a 10-way auction for Nadia El-Fassi’s “cosy, magical, sexy love story”, Henna & Hexes.

Publishing director Sam Bradbury acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, in a three-book deal, from Maddy Belton in a six-figure deal. North American rights were sold in a “significant” six-figure deal at auction to Mae Martinez at Ballantine Bantam Dell (PRH US). Translation rights have been pre-empted in Holland (HarperCollins), Germany (Penguin Verlag), Brazil (Verus) and Serbia (Vulkan). Spanish rights are currently under offer. Del Rey will publish Henna & Hexes as a lead title in October 2024.

Henna & Hexes is the perfect blend of cosy and sexy and I knew as soon as I received it that Nadia’s writing would cast a spell on readers everywhere,” said Belton. “It’s a balm for tough times and a spicy, magical delight from start to finish.”

The novel follows kitchen witch Dina who spends her days running a café in Bloomsbury, trying not to think about the curse that will hurt anyone who falls in love with her. But when she meets museum curator Scott and the pair are made maid of honour and best man at their friends’ wedding, sparks being to fly. Can the pair break the curse on Dina before it breaks both their hearts?

El-Fassi is the pseudonym of Nadia Saward, commissioning editor at Orbit Books UK. They commented: “I started writing Henna & Hexes during the pandemic to keep myself sane, and because I’ve always wanted to write something with a cosy setting, baking influenced by my Moroccan heritage and spicy romance.

“I’m incredibly lucky to have landed with Del Rey and Dell, and I can’t wait to work with Sam, Mae, and their teams to bring my cosy witchy romance to readers.”

Bradbury added: “It came as no surprise to me that when the book I had been searching for came in on submission, it came from an editor. Henna & Hexes hits every note of what’s working in this space right now, and from the moment it landed in my inbox both my professional brain and my witchy-romance loving were completely swept away.

“Nadia’s writing made myself and the whole team feel instantly at home and we are totally over the moon to be the home for Nadia and her incredible, heart-warming books. We can’t wait to launch her career with passion, creativity, and a little bit of magic.”

Congratulations Nadia!