Publication date : 19th August 2019

Publisher : HQ Young Adult

Series : Crown of Coral and Pearl

RRP : $19.99AUD (paperback)

Blurb: For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie

Many thanks to Harlequin Australia and Netgalley for approving me for a copy of this highly anticipated debut. I had given up hope and shazam! It was there waiting for me.

I will start out by saying this tale is trope-erific. There’s body swaps and forbidden love. Squishy marshmallow boys but also the prickly guy who just secretly wants love. There’s a heap thrown in and honestly it goes from amazing to a tad tedious back to pretty darn good. It’s like a rollercoaster where you hate that middle bit but you just keeping riding because the stuff on either side is fantastic. Anyway, on to my academic dissection (just kidding this will be the same trash and strong opinions you always come here for ).

So, that cover is absolutely positively to die for and I challenge you to find a more fitting cover that doesn’t make sense. Or does it? Unless.. Truth be known it makes no sense until almost right at the end but I don’t care! You can’t take my pretty away *swats at the air*. But seriously guys, I have seen this in stores and it made me want to buy like 10 copies so as I could rip off the cardboard and use that as my wallpaper.

Now Nor/Zadie/future queen of the most stifling castle that ever existed is a bit of a badarse. This girl has done everything to keep her family afloat including being shoved into dangerous coral which tried to kill her as a kid (that’s determination). She’s a tad disagreeable but I love disagreeable characters so I mean, I’m happy with our protagonist. Her one major flaw though would have to be the instalove she feels for [redacted] – come on girl, you got better things to do than flounce around after a man!

On the other hand Zadie/Nor/I just want a husband who loves me (this is real Zadie not replacement Zadie. Keep up people) is so soft that I wanted to throw her off a building. I mean, I get being groomed for greatness and not wanting to ruin your chances at being royalty but she’s just eugh. I didn’t like her and I don’t know whether I wasn’t supposed to or not. She is all things drama and moaning, suddenly deciding to be defiant and maiming herself in the process. Basically she’s a pampered princess and kind of one of those ‘stupid girls’ Pink made fun of in her filmclip of the same name.

There are many boys/men in this tale and for the most part they are sweet and stoic, looking after their loved ones with all their hearts. And then there’s the kind of villain/kind of just a product of his upbringing guy, Ceren; he is none of these things. He kind of reminds me of Maven (yes I know but he’s a “type” ok) but with less of the loving facade to start with. This guy is cold and nasty and I really wish it could have turned out differently (it still may. I dunno, I’m not Mara Rutherford). If I was a meanest guy on earth groupie, this is who I would stan in this series. Which I am. So I do…

CoCaP is a lot of content in a relatively short number of pages. Especially in the second half when the great con finally begins. It feels a little like there might be too much for the page count – I know I whinge about slow storytelling but this needed to slam on the brakes just a little. I feel like maybe some of (real) Zadie’s temper tantrums and flouncing could have made way for some slowing of the pace. I mean they literally travel half way across the country, get in a fight, buy some stuff, conspire together, get in another fight, there’s a revelation and they are back in the castle in what equates to what is probably less than 20 pages. Let me breathe! It actually took me quite a few sittings to get this done because INFORMATION OVERLOAD.

Although it was kind of rushed in places, I definitely quite enjoyed the full arc of the story. There are strong women and strong but actually genuinely nice guys playing in the background. There’s a sweet love interest between two chracters which kind of captured my heart a little. It was a good story, just a tad squished (think wearing your skinny jeans after Christmas dinner – it technically all fits but you really probably shouldn’t just in case they burst).

So for those of you who I know don’t read reviews, only recaps here’s the tldr. The main female lead is amazing, her sis is just whingy enough that I want to slap her repeatedly. The villain is mean but I’m pretty sure its not all character flaws. The love interests are for the most part squish and fun. There is a lot of content in a small number of pages, prepare to have to take breaks. Overall it’s a pretty good book that I will definitely be buying the sequel to.

Until next time lovelies xo

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