Anyone who follows me on Twitter might remember there was a twelve book recommendations challenge going around, and I decided to give it a try. I received so many incredible book recs (and I swear I will get to all of them eventually!) but A Sea of Pearls & Leaves by Rosalyn Briar was one of the first to really catch my eye – and not just because of that gorgeous cover.
The premise of a princess, madly in love with her priestess girlfriend, trying trick her way out of an unwanted marriage with an impossible contract is just bursting with the promise of fairy-tale hijinks and adorable romances, and I am all about these kinds of shenanigans. And there were definitely more than enough sweet and funny moments to keep me eagerly turning the pages, even if the premise didn’t quite pan out like I was hoping it would.
A Sea of Pearls & Leaves
by Rosalyn Briar
Kindle Edition, 286 pages
December 1st 2020
Published by Rosalyn Briar
Fantasy | Romance | LGBTQ+ | Fairy Tale Retellings
Princess Ingrid of Norella Isle does not want to get married.
So, her priestess girlfriend, Lilura, devises a wicked plot to deter suitors with a nearly impossible marriage contract: should Ingrid die first, her husband must be buried at sea beside her. The plan backfires when all seven suitors agree, and the king announces a competition for Ingrid’s hand. Ingrid must keep her head above water as she deals with the suitors, a jealous girlfriend, and the news of two murdered priestesses.
As the suitors are eliminated, one man stands out: the quirky and anxious Prince Soren who charms both Ingrid and Lilura. When Lilura goes missing, Ingrid and Soren must piece together who has murdered the priestesses and why before it’s too late.
If I had to pick one word to describe this book, it would be ‘adorable’, and that’s entirely thanks to the three main characters: Ingrid, Lilura, and Soren. As with any good story, this trio is the heart of the book and I came to adore all three of them, both as member of a polyamorous romance, and within their own individual plotlines. One of my favourite aspects of this story was just how distinct and fleshed out each of the three protagonists were. Not one of them felt like they were only there to be a love interest, rather they were all the heroes of their own stories even as they eventually end up together.
Soren in particular was my favourite, and as someone who suffers from high anxiety in real life I felt really connected to his character. He was cute and awkward and so genuine I couldn’t help but love him from the first chapter, and his crush on Ingrid was too adorable.
(Also, I am also absolutely stealing his alphabet trick for anxious moments and I am not sorry for doing it!)
The only issue I had was where he fit in with Ingrid and Lilura. Unfortunately, I felt that the romance between the three main characters ended up feeling a bit forced by the end. I loved Ingrid and Lilura together, and there were a few good scenes between Soren and Ingrid too, but I felt like there needed to be more time spent establishing a connection between all three participants for it to feel really authentic. What there is, I loved, but overall it felt underdeveloped for such an important element of the story.
The plot also wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. I’d imagined that the main focus would be on the suitors figuring out clever solutions to the impossible terms of the contract, and that was originally what drew me in. However, there was much more time spent on the murder-mystery element, and the competition felt flat in comparison. You might be a bit disappointed if what you’re hoping for is some clever riddle solving and misdirection in the competition.
With that said, if you’re just here for some enjoyable characters and a touch of magic, you’ll probably still enjoy the heck out of this story. While I was hoping for a bit more development overall, this was still an incredibly fun book with some awesome representation. Definitely something I’d recommend for anyone who needs a little fantasy in their lives.
With a fun and likeable trio of main characters, A Sea of Pearls & Leaves is a sweet and enchanting fairy-tale retelling that was a joy to read, even if it wasn’t entirely what I expected. Regardless, I still really liked this book, and found it to be exactly the kind of magical story I needed to bring a smile to my face in the dark and gloomy Canadian winter. I absolutely recommend it for anyone looking for a soft and lovely story to warm your heart.
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