Holiday, Jenny. Sandcastle Beach. New York: Forever, 2021.
ISBN-13: 978-1538716571 | $8.99 USD | 432 pages | Contemporary Romance
From the USA Today bestselling “master of witty banter” (Entertainment Weekly) comes a hilarious and heartwarming romance about two enemies whose feud turns red-hot.
Maya Mehta will do anything to save her tiny, beloved community theater. Put on musicals she hates? Check. Hire an arrogant former-pop-star-turned-actor? Done. But what Maya really needs to save her theater is Matchmaker Bay’s new business grant. She’s got some serious competition, though: Benjamin “Law” Lawson, local bar owner, Jerk Extraordinaire, and Maya’s annoyingly hot arch nemesis. Let the games begin.
Law loves nothing more than getting under Maya’s skin, and making those gorgeous eyes dance with irritation. But when he discovers the ex-pop star has a thing for Maya, too, Law decides he’s done waiting in the wings-starting with a scorching-hot kiss. Turns out there’s a thin line between hate and irresistible desire, and Maya and Law are really good at crossing it. But when things heat up, will they allow their long-standing feud to get in the way of their growing feelings?
Includes the bonus novella Once Upon a Bride!
In the series
#1 Mermaid Inn
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Jenny Holiday is an author who it seems like I’d like, as all her premises are solid, but this series in particular (the first two of which were my introduction to her work) just rubs me the wrong way, making me question if it’s me not clicking with her work, or if it’s the series in general that’s a miss, given that I did enjoy (while not being massively blown away by) her Hallmark Christmas-style book, but had issues with elements of the previous two in the series, and now found this one to be a complete miss.
The idea of the characters putting on a play is interesting, and probably the highlight in a mostly dull story. The community vibe has been a constant plus for the series, even with all the other flaws.
And I can’t speak to the specifics of the representation, so take my opinion with a grain of salt, but I did like Holiday’s portrayal of a desi heroine overall, and felt that while she could have been more explicit about it earlier on (not to mention some of the implied representation in the secondary cast), she tried her best without resorting to defining the character based on trauma or stereotypes.
I just didn’t care for Law? He’s basically defined as this arrogant pop star who Maya has enmity with, and I never felt like it made for a convincing enemies-to-lovers dynamic? There was no spark, just an “I don’t like you” sort of vibe that felt pretty one-sided at times. And the transition felt more into lust than anything else, which is a major personal turnoff.
This was a disappointment to cap off (?) a very uneven and underwhelming series. Again, I can’t say how it will impact my approach to Jenny Holiday’s work in the future, as I like her work a lot, even if only in theory. I do also see how it can work for others, given the amount of praise both this and the previous books have received. If you loved the previous two, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick this one up. And if you love a small-town romance with enemies-to-lovers, perhaps you’ll enjoy this more than I did.
Jenny Holiday started writing in fourth grade, when her awesome hippie teacher, between sessions of Pete Seeger singing and anti-nuclear power plant letter writing, gave the kids notebooks and told them to write stories. Most of Jenny’s featured poltergeist, alien invasions, or serial killers who managed to murder everyone except her and her mom. She showed early promise as a romance writer, though, because nearly every story had a happy ending: fictional Jenny woke up to find that the story had been a dream, and that her best friend, father, and sister had not, in fact, been axe-murdered.
From then on, she was always writing, often in her diary, where she liked to decorate her declarations of existential angst with nail polish teardrops. Eventually she channelled her penchant for scribbling into a more useful format. After picking up a PhD in urban geography, she became a professional writer, spending many years promoting research at a major university, which allowed her to become an armchair astronomer/historian/particle physicist, depending on the day. Eventually, she decided to try her hand again at happy endings—minus the bloodbaths. You can follow her on twitter at @jennyholi or visit her on the web at jennyholiday.com.
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