ARC Review: Mazarine by Cece Louise

About the Book:

Title: Mazarine

Author: Cece Louise

Series: The Forest Tales #3

Publication Date: June 22, 2021

Synopsis: She’s cursed. He’s dead. How far will they go to change their fates?

Princess Marilee is cursed. A mermaid by day and a human by night, she made a fateful decision that has left her trapped between two worlds.

Disgraced Prince Darius is dead. At least, that’s what he wants everyone to think when he’s thrown overboard from a prison ship.

When Marilee and Darius meet, they reluctantly make a deal—Darius will help Marilee return to her family in exchange for enough money so he can disappear forever.

A doomed girl and a condemned man. Can they find redemption, or will they be lost to an unforgiving sea?

LINKS:     Goodreads    |      Amazon   

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My Review:

Princess Marilee is cursed. A mermaid by day and a human by night, Marilee is trapped between two worlds and belongs to neither. When she rescues a man from drowning, she sees an opportunity to get help in breaking her curse and returning home to her family. A lifetime resident on a prisoner’s ship, Darius is shocked when he’s rescued by Marilee, and when she offers him a reward for his help, he agrees. This could mean a fresh start for Darius. However, their journey is riddled with danger and risks, and their ever-growing feelings for each other complicates matters. Will Darius and Marilee break the curse? Will they give in to their feelings? Will they find redemption?

I went into this story with a healthy dislike of Darius, especially after some of his terrible deeds in Desperate Forest. I was unsure that he could redeem himself, but I was so wrong. Darius has a fantastic redemption arc. He’s been on quite a journey, both physically and emotionally, and he is not the conniving, vengeful man he used to be. Though hardened, he’s become reflective of his actions and mistakes and learned from them. Darius has time for self-reflection, and he doesn’t like what he sees. I like that he has matured and grown and changed, and though his actions in the past aren’t forgettable or forgivable, the story offers much more insight into what happened from Darius’s perspective.

It didn’t matter how far I ran or who I pretended to be – I couldn’t outrun the truth. I couldn’t outrun myself.

Though the story primarily focuses on Darius and Marilee’s dangerous journey to reunite her with her family and find a way to break her curse, the story also delves into Darius’s childhood and upbringing and the expectations that were cast upon him, which very much defined him. It’s interesting to see how his parents and events from his childhood affected him to the point of ruin. He was so controlled by what he thought others wanted from him that it wasn’t until Darius was banished that he really had the freedom to find himself. They always say there are many sides to a story, and Mazarine proves it.

Like Darius, Marilee grows a lot before and throughout the story. Also, like Darius, she is bound to the sea. Away from all that she holds dear and fearful that she’ll never be able to return, Marilee has a lot of time to reflect on her past and the actions that led her to this fate. Traveling with Darius opens Marilee’s eyes even more, and I love how they both teach each other about love, life, and redemption.

I adored the romance between Darius and Marilee. While it initially seems like an opposites-attract romance, Darius and Marilee learn that they are very much alike in many ways. Both feel trapped by the sea and have regrets, both have secrets and deal with guilt, both come from nobility, and both jeopardized their kingdoms. However, where Darius is cunning, Marilee is naïve. He is also more hardened and cynical, while Marilee remains tender-hearted. What I love is that they give each other hope. They show each other that there are positive possibilities for their future, and they fight for each other.

I’ll remember you. I imagine I’ll remember you so well that I might even wish I’d never met you, just so I wouldn’t have to try to forget you.

Marilee and Darius have a strong bond, and their connection is tested many times. I like how they gravitate to each other, and they don’t even realize it. Plus, their chemistry is fantastic! Whether they are arguing, battling others, or having fun, it’s clear that there is something powerful between them. Throughout the journey there is a whole “will they or won’t they” vibe, and it’s clear that they resist their feelings. However, it’s also clear that their feelings run deep. As they cross the sea and beyond, Darius and Marilee must examine their feelings and decide if their connection is worth fighting for, and I loved it!

I noted in my reviews of the first two books my appreciation for Louise’s unique fantasy world. While the other two books focused more on land, in this book the sea is prominent. The story has such an ominous feel to it right from the start of the story, and I love Louise’s skillful use of imagery and metaphors, especially in relation to the sea and nature in general. She has a gift for creating such vivid and immersive worlds, which continue to expand as the series progresses. The sea becomes almost its own character, as both protagonists are bound to and feel trapped by it. It’s an interesting contradiction. Oftentimes in literature, the ocean is a symbol of freedom, but here it is what imprisons the main characters. I also find it interesting that though both Darius and Marilee feel stuck and bound to the sea, it is there where both show tremendous growth and have the ability to define themselves without the influence of others. The sea is a mix of contradictions, much like the characters who travel across it.

Waves splashed into the boat, like demon fingers ready to snatch us into watery graves.

Mazarine is a wonderful addition to The Forest Tales series, and though Darius is initially introduced in Desperate Forest, this book can easily be read as a standalone. It provides ample context for readers to understand the backstory and what brought Darius abroad the prisoner’s ship. That being said, the first two books in the series are fantastic, and I highly recommend them. Also, the main characters in Desperate Forest have minor roles in this book, which I loved! I always love seeing what characters from earlier books in series are up to and how their stories have progressed, and this book is no exception. Thanks so much to Cece Louise for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance.
  • The vivid imagery and symbolism.
  • The action and adventure!

Favorite Lines:

No matter how I tried, I could never free myself from this ocean. Its magnificent blue water was a cloak wrapped around my shoulders, claiming me as its own.

You’re a complete scoundrel and about as charming as an old boot.

One man’s revenge is another man’s justice.

An ocean star, it guides a lost sailor’s way. Especially on the darkest of nights.

Someone with your light shouldn’t stay hidden. You should share it with the world.

We are all fools in love. But the greatest fool is the one who does not recognize it.


Want to learn more about The Forest Tales Series by Cece Louise? Click on the images below to check out my reviews of the first two books!

Want to learn more about Cece Louise? Check out my interview with her in this Author’s Spotlight!

24 thoughts on “ARC Review: Mazarine by Cece Louise

  1. I’ve been wanting to read this series for a while now. I heard lots of great things about the second book in the series. Sounds like this was a winner, too. Great review!

  2. Julie, Thank you for the stunning review! I’m so happy you enjoyed reading Mazarine, and your review is so thought-provoking. Lol your feelings about Darius going into this story was how I felt when I came up with the idea to try to redeem him. I wasn’t sure it could be done! In the end, the idea took hold and I couldn’t let it go. I’m so happy you found his story believable and worth the read 🙂

  3. I loved your review and went back to read the other two. I have added this to my TBR mountain. The second one is on KU, but I will have to buy the first one. Excellent review, Julie.

    1. Carla, The first book (Desperate Forest) is currently available for free on my website! That’s why it’s not on KU. Just go to Enjoy! 🙂

  4. This sounds interesting. I have read none of the books featuring a mermaid but this looks promising. Also, I love the symbolism behind the ocean as you stated it to be a prison for both the characters.

  5. I always look forward to Mermaid based stories! Little Mermaid was one of my favourite story growing up! This title seems interesting not only because it has mermaids and romance but I see you also mention redemption? I am a sucker for those anti-heroes/villains who turn around!!!

    1. Oh yes! If you like redemption stories, this is a good one. The main char. did some awful things and now pays the price. I love his character arc!! I definitely recommend it!

  6. Reblogged this on One Book More and commented:

    In celebration of the publication of Mazarine and Cece Louise’s upcoming Virtual Launch Party, I thought I’d reshare my review of the novel. I love this story and am so excited to celebrate it!!

    Join Cece Louise on Facebook Live on Thursday, June 24th at 6 pm CST for book giveaways, behind-the-scenes content, and more!!
    Plus, if you RSVP, you are automatically entered to win a signed copy of one of Louise’s books!!

    The Launch Party includes:
    • Signed paperback giveaways
    • Live Q&A session with Cece Louise
    • Behind-the-scenes content from Mazarine
    • Teasers & talk about Louise’s next book
    • And more!

    RSVP “YES” and you’ll automatically be entered to win a signed copy of one of her paperbacks (US ONLY).

    RSVP Today!

    GIVEAWAY: As part of this fun event, Cece will be giving away 3 signed paperbacks (1 of each title)! By RSVPing “YES” to the Virtual Launch Party you will automatically entered in the drawing.

    You can also receive ADDITIONAL ENTRIES by doing any of the following:
    🧜 Inviting friends to attend (each invite is 1 entry!)
    🧜 Sharing this post or any other event post via Facebook
    🧜 Sharing event posts on Instagram (via your feed or story). Follow Cece on Instagram for easy sharing: cecelouise_author
    🧜 Tagging friends in event posts via Instagram (each tag is 1 entry!)
    🧜 Commenting live during the event

    RSVP Today!

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