I’m doing two reviews today – one for In the Shadow Garden and the other for Satisfaction Guaranteed. Both were such great reads, and I’m grateful to Orbit books and Forever for sending me copies of each. Let’s check them out!
About In the Shadow Garden:
Author: Liz Parker
Page Length: 336
Publication Date: Sept. 13, 2022
Synopsis: There’s something magical about Yarrow, Kentucky. The three empathic witches of the Haywood family are known for their shadow garden—from strawberries that taste like chocolate to cherry tomatoes with hints of basil and oregano. Their magic can cure any heartache, and the fruits of their garden bring a special quality to the local bourbon distillery. On one day every year, a shot of Bonner bourbon will make your worst memory disappear.
But twenty years ago, the town gave up more than one memory for the year; they forgot an entire summer. One person died. One person disappeared. And no one has any idea why.
As secrets from that fateful summer start to come to light, there must be a reckoning between the rival Haywood and Bonner families. But the only clue Irene Haywood has is in her tea leaves: a stranger’s arrival will bring either love or betrayal…
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A wonderfully written story of love, loss, and magic, In the Shadow Garden is an engrossing read. It follows two prominent families in one small town and a mystery that happened years ago and changed the trajectory of their lives forever. Rich and atmospheric, the story is told from multiple timelines and perspectives, including the shadow garden, which is a character in its own right. The narration explores the generational magic, deep ties to the land and community, and intertwined families and stories.
Yarrow, Kentucky is a small town with big secrets, the biggest of which occurred two decades ago and is forgotten by the entire town thanks to the Bonners’ bourbon’s magical ability to erase one memory. The Bonners and Haywoods couldn’t be more different, though they both have strong roots in Yarrow and have a complicated and woven past. They contrast each other well, and their animosity toward each other fuels much of the conflict in the story. It’s intriguing to learn more about their connection as the mysteries in the town unfold, and though I figured out the secrets pretty early on, the story was still engrossing.
The magic system intrigued me from the beginning. The Haywoods’ can siphon negative feelings from their clients and then feeds the emotions to the shadow garden. The garden uses these feelings to grow herbs, fruit, and vegetables with magical capabilities. It’s such a unique concept, and the mysterious garden and secretive town are the perfect backdrop for the main mysteries of the novel.
I thought this was a great read. The characters are unique and dynamically developed, the plot is intriguing and filled with mystery and romance, and the magic is so fascinating. The family dynamics are fantastic, and though the love stories took a back burner in the story, I enjoyed them too!
About Satisfaction Guaranteed:
Author: Karelia Stetz-Waters
Page Length: 336
Publication Date: June 1, 2021
Synopsis: When it comes to her career, Cade Elgin has it all figured out. Only “professional talk” has become her default mode, relationships are nonexistent, and don’t even mention the word “orgasm.” All work and no play makes Cade a dull human. But when she inherits a sex toy store, Cade is caught between business and a store filled with every imaginable kind of pleasure—including her infuriatingly irresponsible and deliciously sexy new co-owner.
Selena Mathis learned the hard way that she can have too much of a good thing. Which is precisely why she’s taken an oath of celibacy and is focusing on how to make Satisfaction Guaranteed a success. She won’t mess this up. Not this time. But once again, Selena’s emotions are getting in the way, and tempting her with a serious attraction to buttoned-up Cade.
But the shop isn’t exactly vibe-ing, and Cade and Selena are on the verge of losing both their income and the possibility of love. Can they find a way to work together . . . before Satisfaction Guaranteed runs out of batteries?
What a fun opposites-attract rom-com! Cade and Selena inherit a sex shop that is struggling to stay afloat. Cade wants to sell the shop, but Selena is determined to save it.
Cade and Selena couldn’t be more different. Cade is a buttoned-up accountant, and Selena is a free spirited artist. They are both layered and interesting characters, and I liked their growth throughout the story. They connect on such a deep level, and this connection helps them deal with their baggage and struggles. Their so supportive of each other, and they accept each other faults and all. Plus, their chemistry and banter, and the sex-positivity and open discussions about sex throughout the story is fantastic. I love that their relationship is sweet and charming while also being angsty and steamy.
The story has great secondary characters too, and the setting is unique. Oh my gosh, some of Cade’s family members are so quirky, and they add so much to the story. And I don’t think I’ve ever read a romance that takes place in a sex shop. It was an interesting backdrop to the story, for sure. The humor is also excellent, and there are a ton of laugh out loud moments. I knew from the beginning when Selena reveals in a eulogy that the deceased named her clitoris Belinda and everyone cheers Belinda that i was in for a comedic treat. lol
I enjoyed this read. It has great characters, a unique family, amazing banter, and a wonderful romance. I also loved the messages about self acceptance, taking a chance on love, and intimacy, as well as the frank conversations about sex. If you’re looking for a fun and sexy sapphic story with tons of humor and a lot of heart, you should check this one out.