Cover Image: Sandcastle Beach

Sandcastle Beach

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Member Reviews

About the book:
Maya Mehta loves the stage - always has. So after college when she's able to come back home to run the community theater in town, she gladly takes on the challenge. Years on, though, she needs money (and fast!) to keep the space alive. All she has to do is win the town's new business grant. But obviously nothing is that simple. She's got competition, in the form of her long time nemesis Ben Lawson, who wants to win the grant to help expand his family's generations-run bar. As the stakes raise for Ben and Maya with their respective businesses, growing interest also threatens to come to the surface. Is their collective pride greater than their burgeoning romance? And can they come up with solutions for their businesses that let them both win?

TL;DR:
- Content warnings: ongoing sexual badgering by side character
- 4 stars
- Adorable small-town, enemies to lovers story. Worth reading if you're into low/no conflict, meddling but loving townsfolk, SLOWWWW burn romance.

Loved:
- Maya was so strong and wonderful and I really appreciated her. There wasn't much depth to her character from a cultural perspective (it's mentioned that her parents immigrated from India but this isn't integral to her story at all) which was a bit of a bummer as an Indian American but not a dealbreaker.
- I really loved how despite the fact that despite the fact that these two were "enemies" it was clear there were lines they wouldn't cross and that they actually did care for each other even through the arguing. I love this trope when executed more like this. I have read many an enemies to lovers and that is not always the case. Like the ones where the leads are straight up mean to one another, or their enemy background comes from something legit evil. Not here. Ben (more than Maya) was so absolutely SWEET to Maya no matter what. There was snark for sure, but what a sweetie.
- This book is the first romance I think I have EVER read in my whole life with no conflict. I didn't know you could just? Skip the conflict? You could just... make the romance so slow burn that you don't need there to be an issue? SIGN ME UP!! More of this forever.

Less into:
- I really hated that idiot celebrity whose name I cannot even remember. *SPOILERS* He continually badgers Maya to date him and when rebuffed acts like a big freaking baby? And it's just kind of glossed over? He also almost ruins her show because of his desire to be in a Hollywood movie with a known predator - which is treated like a bigger deal. What a gross person. I think the story could have done without him.

Overall I did really enjoy this one. It was like a warm hug, which I really really needed this year. Didn't we all? Highly recommend you pick this one up next year.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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Fans of Jenny Holiday (me!), small towns, enemies to lovers, and opposites attract will find much to enjoy in this third Matchmaker Bay novel. Fans of this pairing will be less satisfied, and “might” be tempted to call this women’s fiction. There isn’t nearly enough romance in the overall story, and the HEA wraps up so quickly, it’s blink and you’ll miss it.

A quick catch up.

Moonflower Bay is a fictional, twee, small touristy beach town (in Canada). It’s chock full of all the requisite secondary characters and shops - meddling, older folks who secretly matchmake when they aren't masterminding management of the town, a popular flower shop (where tourists and locals can buy the "moonflowers" they use to fling into the bay with a wish whenever there's a full moon), and a local bar where everyone hangs out when they aren't hanging out with each other or participating in local parades or going to see plays at the local theatre.

In the first novel, the friendly local sheriff finds love with his high school love, Eve, after she's forced to return home; in the second, one of the sheriff's best friends, Jake, finds love with a new arrival, Nora, a doctor - after she helps him confront the overwhelming grief that’s been destroying his life; and in Sandcastle Beach, their third friend, Benjamin Law, owner of the local bar, finally admits he doesn't actually hate Maya Mehta, owner of the local theatre and best friend of Eve and Nora. Cozy isn’t it? Theirs is a small community wherein all the most attractive, young and popular people in the town find love with each other. Folks, it's not called MATCHMAKER BAY for nothing. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Over the course of the series, readers have avidly watched the rivalry between seemingly nice and easy going bar owner Ben and Maya, the slightly wacky owner of the local theatre. It's obvious to everyone but these two that they don't so much hate each other as they LOVE each other...but unfortunately, it takes nearly 3/4 of the book for them to realize it. Fortunately, Maya is struggling to keep the theatre afloat and frequently takes solace in the special super cheap, cups never empty riesling poured at Ben's bar. And fortunately, Ben plays VERY close attention to his sad little visitor. And fortunately, he's willing to let Maya spend long hours in his bar using his wi-fi and watching Crystal Palace (her favorite team in the English Premier league). And then he allows her to watch the games in the comfort of his upstairs apartment! SO CONVENIENT.

Ben's a great guy. Legit. He is. I can’t really find anything to complain about. Except….He clearly digs Maya - who’s apparently oblivious to his frequent kindnesses; but since he's so desperately afraid of admitting he likes her, he just permits himself the small scraps of affection she begrudgingly grants him whenever she lets her guard down. He isn’t quite sure how their rivalry began (she knows!), but he digs Maya. Hard.

Meanwhile, Maya thinks Ben is hot. And he’s really nice to her even when they’re pretending to be mad at each other. And her business is floundering. And somehow it’s not her fault - it’s the building's fault FFS, and she has to find a way out of the nightmare of running a THRIVING theatre in a small, tourist town and overcoming her shitty building situation. Mom and dad (owners of the local flower shop) are a possibility for cash until they tell her they’re retiring and selling the business. Uh Oh.

TO THE RESCUE COME THE MEDDLING OLD PEOPLE WHO HAVE COOKED UP THE PERFECT PLAN TO SAVE MAYA AND BEN (WHO DOESN’T ACTUALLY NEED TO BE SAVED) AND ALSO MAKE THEM FALL IN LOVE WITH EACH OTHER. This crowd dangles the possibility of a $100,000 grant to the local business that best benefits the community. The contest pits Ben - who’s looking to expand into the restaurant business, against Maya - who needs the money to save her theatre, and apparently no one else is actually in the running. While they both dedicate their time and energies to their grant applications and the successful running of their businesses, they also find occasions to watch football together and get to know the person they profess to hate. The relationship doesn’t really have anything to do with the grant except that they’re competing for it (sort of?), and it provides us with lots of reasons to sort of care about their professional aspirations. And they discover they LIKE (read: LOVE) each other, have lots in common, and are actually soul mates. Okay, I discovered that...but still.

While I enjoyed both of these characters and their enemies-to-lovers relationship, the actual romance - the sexy, kissy, naked kind - doesn’t happen until SO LATE in the story, I worried it wouldn’t actually happen. And then when it does...well, it’s about 100 pages too late and they’re confessing their love for each other right before the story abruptly concludes. This is women’s fiction masquerading as romance and I WAS NOT HERE FOR THAT. So, good story or not, I want romance in my romance reading and Sandcastle Beach fails to deliver it.

Yes, yes, I get that Maya’s current play, Much Ado About Nothing is the inspiration for this story and the fate of the theatre has to be tied to the HEA...but. It’s all a bit too obvious and unsubtle and come on. THERE NEEDS TO BE MORE SEXUAL TENSION IN THIS STORY. I thought it was a nice story but mostly meh. And that’s a bummer because Ben is YUM.

Likeable people, a "nice" story, and some sexual tension = a nice way to pass the day, but not my favorite Holiday.
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I was excited to start reading this book and it didn't disappoint! She knows how to hold a grudge and she does it well! He has no idea why she's holding a grudge but enjoys arguing with her. She's going bankrupt and needs a quick infusion of cash in order to keep her theater going. He wants to expand his bar into a restaurant. The elders are meddling as usual behind the scenes! I rate this a 3.75. I can't wait for the next book.


**************************I received an ARC for my honest opinion from NetGalley*************************
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such a funny story. I loved all the characters in in. Jenny knows how to set up a great setting and story line. i didn't want to put it down.
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3.5 stars with one major caveat.

Maya and Law have been enemies as long as anyone can remember. But though she refuses to order pizza at his bar, she sneaks pieces from friends' orders, and he keeps a riesling in stock that he only serves to her. Her theater is struggling, and she may have to shut it down. She pins all her hope into an ex-boy-band member starring in Much Ado About Nothing at her theater. Law is expanding his bar to include a restaurant. They both apply for a grant that the town is offering to a local business, so they are in direct competition with each other. Meanwhile, there is a thaw between them as Maya discovers that Law has access to English Premier Football channel in his apartment, where she gets more and more comfortable. 

The town's meddling older crowd gets involved, though Maya and Law seem blissfully unaware, paralleling Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. They start secretly meeting for trysts.

The book was really a 4-star for me up till the end. I adore Jenny Holiday, I find her books very readable and comforting (though I did dnf the last Moonflower Bay book because of some issues that made me unhappy, I assume other readers love the thing that made me not want to read it). But I have to say I got big mad at this book after the 90% mark, and honestly I was happily moving into 4+star rating then plummeted to just wishing I hadn't read the book.

SPOILERS AHEAD: The ex-boy band star, Holden, is a shallow moron but he is making the play happen- his dance moves, his singing, his very existence because Maya has directed the play to relate to bullying and teen issues. He quits because he has an audition in LA for the last weekend of performances, which happens to be the Saturday when a critic from the Globe and Mail is coming to review the play. Maya wants to just cancel, she does not have an understudy for Benedick. But Law says don't cancel, I'll fix it. I expected him to lure Holden back but no. Law himself shows up at the last minute for the play on Saturday night in costume as Benedick, having learned his lines, and subs in for Holden. The whole town is in on it. Then they whisk Maya away to be the Mermaid Queen. Of course the review from the Globe and Mail is overwhelmingly positive! They pulled it off! 

I just........ Maya is the director of the play and the owner of the theater. If a man showed up and surprised me at a big presentation I was making where the reputation of my business was at stake, I would be livid. It's disrespectful. I just wish writers would not have men surprise women at work for the grand gesture, it almost always undermines the woman and makes me angry. No woman wants to be surprised at work, in a work situation (like, send flowers, ok, but don't get involved in my work!). So I was left with a bad taste in my mouth and I am hesitant to recommend the book.
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Third ARC review of the day, folks! And yet another one of my fav sub genres, beach reads. You know, the type of book where you’re either enjoying a day on the beach or beside a lake, it’s that type. This one was rather enjoyable. It kept my interest and was definitely an easy beach read. Only thing I’d say is that it was a little bit on the too drawn out side of a slow burn type of romance for my taste. I like for them there’s romance, for it to happen in a timely manner. I would rate this a solid 4.5/5 stars on the good reads scale. It’s solid. Easy to get into. And I would definitely recommend it for this upcoming spring or summer break. With that said, happy reading folks.-Caroline
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I really love this series from Jenny Holiday. I had been intrigued with the interactions of Maya & Law in the first two books & I love how their relationship developed. Their banter was amazing. They supported each other so well & their slow burn to romance was great. I also really love the small town of Moonflower Bay & all it's quirky residents.
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A fun, sweet read with lots of heart... and matchmaking schemes!

First of all, I am absolutely enamored with the series with its quirky characters and mermaid-themed town. Which is super cute and right up my alley!  I love that everyone is in everyone else's business. I love how everyone pulls together to help each other out and I LOVE how much love and care the people of Moonflower Bay have for each other! 

Maya and Law have a long history of being enemies. Their crazy arguments and chemistry-filled vitriol have been the comic relief of the past two books, but now we get to delve deep into the heart of the anger/hurt that continues to fuel the flames of discord between them.

I absolutely loved their story. Maya is strong, smart, fun, entrepreneurial and tenacious. I greatly admired and adored her! Law is super sweet, caring, considerate, hunky and secretly in love with Maya. I love them together.... and fortunately, so do the matchmaking elders in Moonflower Bay, nicknamed Matchmaker Bay for that very reason! 

The secondary characters are an amazing part of the story. I love seeing previous couples living their happily ever after and supporting Maya and Law as they deal with their struggles and understand their feelings for each other. 

Sandcastle Beach is my new favorite book of the series! It was a blessing to read and gave me so much joy! I highly recommend this and every book in the Matchmaker Bay series!
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Maya Mehta and Benjamin Law have been adversaries since an incident that happened when Maya was a teenager.  Maya owns the community theater in town, which is in a financial bind.  Ben owns a bar and wants to expand.  The town has decided to offer a grant.  Both need it to help with their businesses.  What ensues is a lot banter and getting to know each other in a different light.  The townsfolk also do everyone in their power playing matchmaker with these two.  I’ve enjoyed all three books in this series.  This can be read as standalone but you will want to go back and read the other two in the series.  Thank you to NetGalley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for the E-ARC.  This is my own opinion.
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I just love this series, and I've been really anticipating Maya and Law's entry. It did not disappoint! This is probably my favorite of the Matchmaker Bay series. It might be partly because of the build-up - Maya and Law have been sniping at each other and sparking sexual tension since the first book - but I think it's even more than that. This story felt very whole to me, in a way I'm not sure I can really put my finger on. Both characters were given good, realistic character development, and the evolution of their relationship seemed really natural. I was surprised at how well the business storylines folded into the plot (Maya is on the verge of losing the small town theater that she runs, and Law is nervous about potentially expanding beyond his bar, which has been passed down from his grandfather to his father to him). A substantive and satisfying romance from Jenny Holiday!
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This book was the perfect escape. It was lovely and fun. It was my first book by this author and I will definitely be on the look out for more!!
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I really loved this one! It was adorable but not too adorable, if you know what I mean ;)

Maya and Law (short for Benjamin Lawson) have been feuding for as long as they can remember. Whether it's arguing over parking spaces, forcing Law to blare Spice Girls in his bar, or forcing Maya to be the town parade's Mermaid Queen against her will, the two are always at odds. But when they start spending more time together, the line between love and hate (and lust) grow very thin...

Enemies-to-lovers is my favorite trope and I'm always down for one done well. This story had such a fun, playful take on "enemies" that involved more annoyance than hate, and the spark of romantic interest flaming into something more was a beautiful slow burn that I enjoyed immensely. The characters had fantastic chemistry and the author handled the intimacy well. Jenny Holiday has become one of my must-read authors!

This book is third in the Matchmaker Bay series, but can definitely be read as a stand-alone!

Thank you to Forever and NetGalley for my eARC of this book!

5 stars - 9/10
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The third installment in Jenny Holiday's Mermaid Series was a sweet ending to these books!  I really enjoyed this series, and I was excited to read Maya and Law's story.  This was the perfect enemies to lovers book set in a beautiful, picturesque small town!  I  usually love small town romances, and this didn't disappoint!  I recommend this book and the whole series if you like sweet, small town romances with lots of steamy romance!
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