About the Book:
Title: The Sea Siren of Broadwater Bottom
Author: Courtney McCaskill
Series: The Astley Chronicles #3
Page Length: 295
Publication Date: Nov. 18, 2022
Synopsis: Sometimes there’s a fine line between assessing the competition and consorting with the enemy…
Thanks to an imprudent wager made by his younger brother, Edward Astley has to win a classical translation contest being hosted by Oxford University. This means he’ll have to beat the latest star on the literary scene, the anonymous translator whose rendition of On the Sublime is taking Britain by storm. He’s supposed to be studying, but all he can seem to think about is Elissa St. Cyr, the redheaded daughter of his former tutor, who’s every bit as brainy as she is delectable.
Elissa has problems of her own. With her father’s health failing, she’ll soon need to support her mother and sisters through her translation work. And that means she needs to win the Oxford contest, so she can secure the one thing she has never had the opportunity to earn: an academic credential.
To make matters worse, she managed to get stuck in the middle of a pond during a thunderstorm, and the person who happened along to rescue her, witnessing her in the most humiliating moment of her remarkably humiliating life, was her ultimate beau idéal, the brilliant Edward Astley. Now Elissa keeps bumping into Edward everywhere she goes. Which would normally be wonderful …
… except she’s worried he’s going to figure out that she is the anonymous translator everyone is talking about.
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The Sea Siren of Broadwater Bottom is a fantastic addition to the Astley Chronicles! I loved the characters, the literary references and translations, the intellectual conversations, and the romance.
Elissa and Edward are both such layered and unique protagonists with wishes, hopes, fears, flaws, and strengths. They aren’t from the same social circle, so even though they are immensely attracted to each other, their pairing isn’t considered acceptable, especially in Edward’s eyes. He feels he must marry within the peerage as is expected of someone of his social standing.
A free spirit, trouble seems to find Elissa, which we see in the first scene when she is trapped in the middle of a lake as a storm brews. Luckily, her very own Prince Charming rescues her. Elissa has always had feelings for Edward, who was her father’s student, and I can see why! He’s lovely. Kind, caring, and intelligent, he is gallant and honorable, and I absolutely adored him. Edward worries so much about everything and has a very low sense of self-worth. He struggles with maladaptive perfectionism (The author’s note at the end of the book offers a great explanation of this). A high achiever with a strong need for approval, Edward holds himself to impossible standards. I wish he could see himself through the eyes of those that love him, and I like that Elissa tries to show him that. I also like how Edward begins to reflect on his past and sees instances where he was too harsh with himself or when he misread situations and experiences. His struggles are relatable, as is his growth throughout the story.
I also like that Edward and Elissa bond over their shared interests. They are both classicists and exemplary translators. I haven’t read that many historical romances where both love interests are scholars and intellectuals. Though they are different in many ways, Edward and Elissa share a love of language and learning, and their conversations about literature and translations are wonderful. I like that they challenge each other on so many levels.
Elissa and Edward even use their knowledge of Ovid to help them during their first sexual encounter, since they are both inexperienced. This was such a sweet, awkward, and funny scene, and I thought it was great that they were both virgins. It’s another thing that I don’t often see in historical romances. They’re both so eager to learn, please each other, and make each other happy, but neither really knows what they’re doing. You can see how deeply they care for each other, and there are so many lovely scenes that show their undeniable chemistry. Some of their scenes are super sexy and swoon-worthy. Other scenes, where Edward stands up for, protects, and cares for Elissa also made my knees a little weak. However, a ton of obstacles stand in their way, including their different social status, the competition they’re both in, his duty, and more. Regardless, they are there for each other when it counts, and their chemistry is off the charts.
Others notice their chemistry too, especially Edward’s family. I love his mother and siblings! They have such vibrant personalities, and they’re meddlesome, but it is usually in the best of ways and with the best of intentions. They also contrast with some of Elissa’s family, who are not supportive, loving, or understanding. The scene when the families are together is the best, and it endeared me to Edward’s mother even more.
I thought this was a great addition to the series, and if you haven’t read the first two books, you could easily read this one as a standalone. That being said, I loved all three books and would definitely recommend them to historical romance readers. And I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case, I think you can. The cover is so lovely and charming, and so is the story.
Special thanks to Courtney McCaskill for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
- The romance.
- The literary references and translations.
- Edward’s family.
It struck him that his life two weeks before had been like a sketch in grey charcoal. But with Elissa in it, suddenly everything was painted in glorious colors.
Want to learn more about the series? Click on the images below to check out my reviews of the first two books!