Cover Image: Sandcastle Beach

Sandcastle Beach

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I’ve enjoyed every one of Holiday’s Matchmaker Bay novels. Looking back at the three titles (hoping for more), I admire how she set a different tone to each couple, balancing the familiar and whimsical with the fresh and heart-tugging. Of the three, Paradise Cove chewed my heart to bits. Sandcastle Beach made for a nice contrast: low-stakes romance, likeable hero and heroine with supportive family, friends, and town rooting for them and, my favourite bit, a nod to one of Shakespeare’s great comedies, Much Ado About Nothing. If Mermaid Inn brought us reunited high school sweethearts and Paradise Cove saw a tragedy healed in its love story, Sandcastle Beach had the frothy fun and banter of Shakespeare’s delightful paen to love’s headiness, but also to how we resist it and fight against it.

We watched Ben Lawson and Maya Mehta snark at each other through the first two series books. Like to their friends and family, that they were in love was obvious. This does not make their romance journey any less engaging for being so apparent. (I also enjoyed Holiday dialing down the sexy times and going for slow burn with this one: she nailed it.)

The blurb offers further detail:

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? 

As with most blurbs, it reveals and deceives. The rock star Maya hires, Holden Hampshire (who reminded me of Bride and Prejudice‘s Mr. Collins) doesn’t feature as prominently as suggested. The slow burn was a baby ember for a long time and Ben is not suddenly awake to Maya’s wonderfulness because he’s jealous of a gamboling rocker has-been. Sandcastle Beach really is the story of Ben and Maya in Benedick-Beatrice-mode, “sparring” through the first half (and Holiday is one of the great romance comic writers so you know these bits will be good) and, still squabbling, slowly succumbing to desire and an endearing affection. Like their Shakespearean counterparts, Ben and Maya are beautifully compatible and it’s easy to imagine them happily sniping and loving through their HEA.

Ben and Maya don’t have the psychic wounds we often witness in romances: their parents are wonderful and ALIVE; their friends, as deviously amusing, caring, and gently nudging their romance along as Benedick and Beatrice’s. So the question is: can Holiday write a great low-stakes romance? Given I read Sandcastle Beach during one of my toughest work weeks this year, lost sleep to cheer for these two into the wee hours, a resounding yes!

Holiday built her novel on Shakespearean genius comic mode: by keeping up banter between Ben-Benedick and Maya-Beatrice, conflict is  built in to characterization. She sealed it with the grant rivalry, which carries the romance’s pacing and becomes part of the HEA in a gratifying way. Then, she peppered Ben and Maya’s verbal boxing matches with hints of how they “really” feel about each other, delightful little details: Ben stocking a Reisling Maya loved, even though it’s limited edition, and serving it only to her; Maya designating two or three days of the year as Bare-chested-Ben days when, for example, they volunteer to “man” the dunk tank at the annual Moonflower Bay Raspberry Festival. The stakes may be low, but her protagonists’ adorable innocence carries the day. Their banter was hilarious, a case in point Ben teasing Maya about her tube-top, “Nineteen eighty-three called, and they want their outfit back”, which amused me to no end because I wore many a tube-top in 1983 (and may I say that, like Maya, I looked magnificent in them).

I don’t want to make Ben and Maya sound like it’s all-snark and no-tenderness because that would be a misrepresentation. There’s plenty tenderness, it’s just not maudlin. Even their love scenes have a light comic touch, but the Shakespearean referencing is genius when Ben looks in wonder at Maya and remembers her playing Cleopatra: “She definitely looked like a woman with an empire under her command. Which he supposed made him the empire. He was surprisingly okay with that.” And so are we. When the HEA comes, it’s as fitting to Ben and Maya as Shakespeare’s, as Holiday pays homage to obviously one of her favourite romances in literature … and mine. If you’re looking for a few hours of delight, a book that can put and keep a silly smile on your face, then look no further than Sandcastle Beach (the title, btw, is another droll moment in Ben and Maya’s “feud”), but if you haven’t read the first two books, you would be missing out. Go for the whole hog, not just the piglet. With Miss Austen, we find in Sandcastle Beach “a mind lively and at ease,” Emma.

Jenny Holiday’s Sandcastle Beach is published by Forever. It was released on March 9 and may be found at your preferred vendor. I received an e-galley from Forever, via Netgalley.
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Sandcastle Beach is delightful, and I didn't want this story to end! It included my favorites with a small-town enemies-to-lovers romance. I loved Benjamin "Law" Lawson and Maya Mehta as the leading man and lady. The town's people were also a wonderful touch to the story. This story reminded me of my theater days in high school as Maya owns, directs, and acts in the town's theatre. I would highly recommend Sandcastle Beach to anyone wanting a complete escape into this entertaining love story. 

Thank you, Forever, for my complimentary copy for this honest review.
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Generally speaking, I enjoy Holiday’s writing. I think she usually writes really engaging stories with great characters. Unfortunately… I couldn’t push through my complete lack of interest to finish this book so I could give you a solid review. I mean, sure, I could have pushed this post out for another six months and maybe at some point I would be compelled to read the last half of the book (I literally made it to the 50% mark) just so I can know what happens, but… Somehow this book with a hate to love premise just is not working for me at all. I don’t mind petty characters, but honestly, the stakes here are just… Both nonexistent and too big simultaneously. The love interests are competing for this grant and our lady lead’s business is going to literally go under if she doesn’t get some cashflow ASAP while the man’s business would just be expanding. Anyway, I just hit a block and I couldn’t finish the book so my apologies. If you read this book, I hope you like it more than I did!
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This is a sweet small town romance, the 3rd book in the Matchmaker Bay series. Law and Maya have had a love/hate relationship since the family book, and they finally resolve it in this one.  I like the “frenemies to lovers” trope and it’s well done here.  I enjoyed the small town descriptions and the overall feel of the book. Great chemistry between Maya and Law, and the other characters were well described.  4 stars.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Another cure and fun read from Jenny Holiday! I didn't like this one quite as much as some of her others but still really enjoyed it. 3.5 stars.
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Sandcastle Beach is the Matchmaker Bay Series book number #3 by Jenny Holiday. The first one is Mermaid Inn and the second one is Paradise Cove and I'm still finishing reading the series. I'll be back with my complete review soon. I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
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Sandcastle Beach by Jenny Holiday is the third book in the contemporary romance Matchmaker Bay series. As with a lot of contemporary romance series the theme to the series is the setting and the main characters will change with each new book so they all can be read and understood as a standalone or in any order if choosing to do so. There are little glimpses of previous characters in the series all throughout though for those that follow along from the beginning.

Matchmaker Bay is actually the nickname of the charming little Moonflower Bay, Ontario due to some nosey matchmaking residents. This time around it’s Maya Mehta and Benjamin “Law” Lawson who have come into the sights of the matchmakers in the small town. Maya is trying to get her tiny community theater put on the map and Law owns the local bar. What these two need is the new business grant that the town is offering putting them both in direct competition with one another so the only sparks flying should be those from anger at one another, right?

I have read all three books in the contemporary romance Matchmaker Bay series and have absolutely loved every one of them. The characters have all been likable and Law and Maya were not an exception to that and I have also absolutely come to love our quirky cast of matchmakers. That type of quirky humor I usually go searching for in cozy mysteries but found it in this contemporary series too. Each romance has won me over so while I don’t know if there will be a book four if there is I will definitely be reading it.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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I loved watching the story of Maya and Ben unfold. They really did make a delightful pair in the end. The small town feel as well as the close knit friendships really added to the storyline.
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This book was super cute! I'm going to have to Google if Moonflower Bay is a real place because I feel like I would totally live there! I've realized that I really am a fan of a good small town romance. I love the idea of a close knit town and can picture the cute scenery.

This book is actually the third book in a series, which I didn't realize when I picked it up. But honestly, I don't feel like I missed anything. Nothing seemed out of place or confusing at all so I feel like it definitely stands alone. I will probably check to see if I can find the first two at my library though!

In this story, Maya owns her own theatre company and is struggling to keep it open. Law owns a popular bar that has been in his family forever and he is hoping to expand. And these two do not get alone at all. They love getting under each other's skin and the whole town knows that they can't stand each other. But eventually they start spending more time together and have to make the decision to either continue the fight or let love grow.

I thought they made a fun couple when things got going and I really enjoyed their witty banter. The mini arguments between them were quite sarcastic and I love that kind of humour! There was some steam in this book. Not a ton and it wasn't in the whole book but was definitely prevalent in a few chapters. If closed door romance is more your thing, you could always skip the chapters and I don't think it would really affect the story.

Overall, a cute read that was perfect for summer!
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My favorite in the series!!!!!! I was ready for this story after the build up over the first two books and I was not disappointed! Hate to love + hiding?? LOVED THIS ONE!
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I can’t believe I took this long to read this book. It was so freakin good and had everything I love about it. Slow burn, small town, and all the feels. Everyone knows they hate each other and when they compete for the grant is when the games begin. Though its not a true enemies to lovers since Law pretended to hate her (I don’t consider that enemies). I wanted the hate lol.
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Love this series. Started reading and ordered all the rest. Great characters, setting and plot. I would definitely read this author again. She did an amazing job with the storyline.
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Jenny Holiday sure has a way with words. Every book so far in the Matchmaker Bay series is phenomenally well done. The way the tension is built up, especially with Maya and Benjamin, the reader can't help but scream when the characters find their way together. Sandcastle Beach has some of my favorite romance characteristics. Enemies to lovers - check. Can't stop laughing banter - check. Small-town coziness - Check. Mischievous and meddling friends - Bonus. 

I have loved this series from the start. I had to reread some of the ending of book #2 because some of the timeframe does overlap, but I loved that! I loved the plot of the competition for a local grant and Maya's boy-band turns theater heart-throb. It added to the tension between the two. Maya and Law were two of my favorite characters.
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This is a super fun read. I really enjoyed this one!

Many thanks to the author, the publisher, and Netgalley for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
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It's been a minute since I visited Moonflower Bay and I was thrilled to go back and get Maya and Law's story. I appreciated the drive they both had to be awarded the grant to help with their business goals and even more than that? I couldn't get enough of their chemistry. I'm a sucker for "enemies to lovers" when done well and these two checked that box. 

I did end up listening to the audiobook for Sandcastle Beach and, if I'm being totally honest, I did not LOVE that format. I probably should've read the eARC instead. It might have been the volume at which I was listening without headphones, but the narrator was almost shrill at times when she was portraying Maya's excitement or exasperation. It wasn't enough to take me totally out of the story or make me dislike the character, but it did definitely cause me to flinch a couple of times. 

That said, all in all, I adored this book. Jenny Holiday is an auto read author for me.
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I’ve been waiting for Sandcastle Beach to learn more about the feud between Law and Maya. In the previous 2 books when these 2 were in the same room, neither gave up an opportunity to get under the other’s skin.  The enemies to lovers in this one didn’t disappoint. 

As in the previous 2 books, I loved the meddling older group of town residents who made it their mission to know what was happening in town and magically intervene for the good of the younger residents. The chemistry and banter between Law and Maya was amazing but it was quite a slow burn to get to that first kiss. Some of my favorite scenes were the quieter moments spent together before they got together as a couple. 

Read if you like:
- Enemies to lovers trope with sizzling banter
- small town romance, especially when set in lakeside Canadian towns with some quirky traditions
- grumpy heroes who show affection in small and meaningful ways
- close friend groups that are there for one another
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Sandcastle Beach is the third book in Jenny’s Matchmaker Bay series. It follows bar wonder Benjamin “Law” and theater owner Maya, who are sworn enemies. 

I am a huge HUGE fan of this series. The first two books I binged so quick, then gave them to my romance loving Nana who proceeded to tell me “Molly! Those books were....(fans herself)” 😆 so when Sandcastle Beach came out earlier this year I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! I’ve been waiting for Law’s story! 

I really enjoyed his and Maya’s enemies to lovers journey and watching her soften and learn to open up and trust Law. It had the classics Matchmaker Bay charm with the small town, meddling elders, and the whole crew throughout the book. 

One that that was a bit harder for me was it was a SLOOOOOOW burn. Slow. I think if I would have known that going in I wouldn’t have felt the dragging so much, but I really wanted them to just GET TOGETHER! 

Overall I’d definitely recommend adding this entire series to your summer TBR! I haven’t heard but really hope this isn’t the last one!

Thank you @readforeverpub for the gifted copy to read and give an honest review!
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Maya Mehta is the town's theater director and Benjamin "Law" Lawson owns the local bar. They've been feuding for years. When a competition starts in their town they both want to win this money that can help their businesses making them rivals. The whole town plays matchmaker and they end up finding themselves alone together quite often. Law has always had a thing for Maya. He enjoys pushing her buttons and watching her reactions and when he finds out someone else might be interested in her he decides to make a move. Will their feud get in the way of love? 

Jenny Holiday can do no wrong. I've been waiting for Maya and Law's story and it was so worth it. Rivals to lovers, witty banter, small-town romance. Everyone can see it except for the hero and heroine. Slow burn, low angst. cuteness overload. I got Much Ado About Nothing Beatrice and Benedick vibes and I loved it so much.
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Maya and Law's enemies to lovers romance was the perfect way to wrap up the Matchmaker Bay series. After seeing these two spar every time they were together in the previous books, I was definitely ready to find out how this feud originally began. Even though this is book 3 in the series, it can be read as a standalone. It will be most enjoyed, however, if read in order.
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I really enjoyed Jenny Holiday’s Sandcastle Beach! It’s a charming, small town romance filled with unforgettable characters.
Jenny Holiday’s characters drew me into the story. Ben “Law” Lawson is the perfect swoony hero. I loved the witty banter between Law and theater owner Maya Mehta.  He looks forward to seeing her every night at his bar, Lawson’s Lager, where he greets her with a glass of Riesling. Although Maya may appear to be indifferent towards Law—she genuinely enjoys his company and friendship….although she’d never admit it.
The slow burn romance between Maya and Law is perfectly written. Loved the laugh out loud scenes when Moonflower Bay’s matchmakers Pearl, Eiko, Art and Karl tried to bring the couple together. The attraction between the couple was apparent to everyone—the couples friends, family members and the patrons of Law’s bar. Loved how the town wide competition heated up the romance between Law and Maya.
The storyline is engaging, romantic and relatable. Loved how the author blended these elements into the grant competition as it kicked the storyline up a notch.  Jenny Holiday is a “new-to-me” author and I look forward to her next book!
If you are looking for a small town romance filled with fabulous characters—pick up a copy of Sandcastle Beach!
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