I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Netgalley but all opinions provided are my own.
The evocative title Mermaid Inn—coupled with the fact that said book's written by the criminally under-recommended Jenny Holiday—made this one of my most anticipated 2020 reads. What I discovered is a delight from start to finish, a warm and funny and sexy romance that’s as unique as the place it’s set in. I loved living inside this world for a while.
Eve Abbott returns to Moonflower Bay to take possession of the Mermaid Inn, which was left to her by her great-aunt. She’s going to leave town as soon as possible—though she blissfully spent most of her childhood summers in Moonflower Bay, now the town holds only memories of the great betrayal committed by her former best friend and first love Sawyer.
But as they often do in romance novels, thank God or Sarah MacLean or whomever you pray to, plans often go awry, and Eve encounters Sawyer, now a sheriff, right away. Even worse for Eve, thanks to a dictate in her great-aunt’s will she has to stay in Moonflower Bay for a full year if she wants to sell the inn, so she’ll keep encountering him...over and over again.
Second chance romance is often a hard trope for me. I’m at the point in my life when couple break-ups make me (maybe disproportionately) sad whether they’re people I know or celebrities I don’t even really care about. But it’s really well done here, especially since Sawyer wears his yearning, affection, and regret on his sleeve. Like Eve in one relevant scene, I wanted him to be a little more aware of how annoying/damaging his highhandedness was (being guilt-ridden doesn’t necessarily equal being 100% remorseful for Sawyer) but overall, he seems ready to do the work needed for a proper second chance.
And as much as I rooted for that eventual HEA, I cheered Eve on for not making it easy on him. She has a right to be very upset and she makes him earn her forgiveness in a way that I appreciated.
Those dynamics aside, it’s clear this couple has some stuff to learn and the burden of communication’s on both of them. It’s a process that both characters have to embrace for any kind of a future together, whether it’s fully clothed and in the outside world communication or dirty talk during their super sexy not-as-clothed bedroom moments, and that resonated with me.
I wanted more legwork done to justify one particular aspect of the direction that Eve’s life takes in the conclusion, but overall, this is a well-rounded romance where little is taken for granted. It’s not just the leads who matter—it’s also their family and friends, their homes, their neighbors—and that thoughtfulness comes across throughout Mermaid Inn.
I can’t wait for the next time I’m in Moonflower/Matchmaker Bay. Once this girl *gestures toward self* falls for a book/community/place, she doesn’t mess around.
Give me that HEA, please.
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