★ Blog Tour & Giveaway ★ Review of Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford

Welcome to my stop on the Crown of Coral and Pearl Blog Tour and Giveaway! Thanks for coming and I hope you enjoy the visit!

Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford
Crown of Coral and Pearl #1
Published on 27 August 2019 by Inkyard Press

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.

I just need to get this out of the way before anything else. Dude is a freaking sociopath. My entire family knows this because I spent the entire time I read this book cursing about that "fudging (edited) sociopath".
Crown of Coral and Pearl has had me excited to read it for nearly an entire year now and to have had the opportunity to read an ARC and review it for this tour is an immense honour for me. You could tell by the amount of squealing and screeching that could be heard throughout the Orlando area when I got the news. My neighbours know when I've got a good book, okay? And Crown of Coral and Pearl was a good book, y'all.

"Your mother taught you to believe your scar made you ugly, but it has made you brave."
I applaud Ms Rutherford. Her writing is vivid and captivating. In Crown of Coral and Pearl, she created characters that drew me in and held me captive every step of the way. I loathed Zadie and Nor's mother with every fibre of my being and I felt not just pity for Lady Melina but also a deep respect for the woman's bitter (ah, so bitter) resolve. Throughout the story, you can see Nor's character develop from a naive girl with a brash sense of bravery, where she acts without weighing risk and outcome, to a judicious and indomitable young woman who understands what she's risking when she rebels. I was actually on edge at several parts of this story, worrying my nails away, as I held my breath. Because of scenes involving a certain fictional sociopath, I have no nails left, y'all.

"Sorrow is good for the soul.....Those who have never known pain or adversity are as shallow as the waves lapping on the shore.
And what is wrong with being shallow?

What lies beneath the surface of shallow waters? Nothing. It's only when you go deeper that the ocean comes alive. The deeper you go, the more mysteries and surprises await."
Crown of Coral and Pearl was an amazing read for me. To save her sister and her country, Nor volunteers to take the injured Zadie's place as Prince Ceren's bride, knowing she'd never see either again. She goes in the hopes of making Varenian lives better but quickly learns that the shark, jellyfish, and blood coral she grew up diving around pales in comparison to her intended and his court. The only ones she somewhat trusts in Ilara are Prince Talin, Lady Melina, and her lady's maid, Ebb. Right from the start, Nor (and me!) can sense something off with Ceren and begins to understand the new depths she's found herself in. 
"Mother always made Varenia sound so perfect. She said there was no violence or crime. I imagined it as a paradise. And when I came to visit, that's what I saw. I saw you."
The romance within Crown of Coral and Pearl is woven throughout, but it doesn't overshadow the actual story, the love one Varenian girl has for her sister and her country and what she'll do to save them both. I hardcore ship Talin and Nor, y'all. I'm not really a big 'forbidden love' triangle mess fan but sign me up! Talin first sees Nor when he visits Varenia before the girls switch places and when he meets Nor masquerading as Zadie on her way to Ilara, he suspects the truth and begins to fall more and more for her throughout the story despite her being destined for his brother. Nor begins to understand Zadie's reckless actions that lead to the switch the more she's around Talin. Ebb is the ultimate fangirl and does as much as she can to help the pair get together. We are all Ebb, okay.
"It's like a tiny star marking you as something special for anyone too senseless not to know it."
Overall, I'm giving Crown of Coral and Pearl all 5 of my bright and shiny stars. It gets 1 flame for the romance, no hot and heavies, just a light, slow burn throughout. I am absolutely in love with CoCaP and I cannot wait to put a physical copy on my shelves. I'm also willing to pledge fealty to Thalos to read the sequel when it's ready. I'm just saying. Trigger and content warnings to follow for anybody who might have a need. If you've a question about them, feel free to message me on Twitter or Instagram! Thank you to Mara Rutherford, Inkyard Press, and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for allowing me to be a part of this tour!

**** Triggers and Content Warnings contain very mild spoilers to provide an accounting of instances so that readers can make an informed decision before reading, if you'd like to avoid these, scroll to the author bio section ****

Trigger and Content Warnings - abusive mother (verbal, emotional, mental, and one instance of physical), violence towards women, killing of an animal (not a pet, two different instances, short creepy sadistic instance of cave salamander and battle with a monster-beast), and blood (just gross even by my standards, ew)

Mara Rutherford began her writing career as a journalist but quickly discovered she far preferred fantasy to reality. Originally from California, Mara has since lived all over the world, from Russia to Peru, along with her Marine-turned-diplomat husband and two sons. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara holds a Master's degree in Cultural Studies from the University of London and would rather study the folklore of her next post than the language (which she has found is a lot more fun but not nearly as useful). She is a former Pitch Wars mentee and three-time mentor. Her debut YA fantasy, CORAL AND PEARL, will release from Harlequin Teen in Fall 2019.

Be sure to enter the giveaway on the tour's homepage!
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Okay, folks, that's it for today. I'm exhausted and there's a new drama I'm addicted to (Go, Go, Squid! if you're interested) and I'm almost finished it. My charity for this week is Amazon Watch, which is one of the charities that is dedicated to protecting the Amazon and supporting its indigenous people. Until next time, have a happily ever after!

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