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Sea Magic (Hidden Gems, 1)

Rating: 3 Stars

"What was it about a woman's power that made men vilify her, turn her into something dark, dreadful?"

Madeline knows everyone in the quaint seaside town of Penbrook, and everyone knows her. But this antique shop owner keeps one thing under her vintage hat-her ability to touch an object and connect with its history. After buying an old box at an estate sale filled with rare items, she started having vivid dreams about Maria, a young headstrong Puritan whose "knowing" could get her branded as a witch and whose forbidden love for a poor sailor caused a scandal. Together with Evan, an attractive professor who tempts her to believe in love, she uncovers Maria's story, helpless to stop its trajectory toward tragedy. With Evan's support, maybe she can lay the ghosts of the past to rest-including her own.

The book is mostly about Madeline and her experiences with a couple sections about Maria. I honestly wish that Maria had been a more prominent feature in the book as her story line, in my opinion was more interesting than Madeline's. Madeline has a gift that she goes out of her way to hide, and the book is really just about her accepting her gift and the things it allows her to do. She starts having dreams about Maria and then progresses to the desire to help Maria move on to the other side, with the help of a sailor named Noah. The book got a little strange at points because of a random mermaid plot and Madeline's journey into the middle world.

I wasn't really a fan of the romance elements in this book as I felt that both were rushed and awkward. Maria's romance with Samuel made me a bit uncomfortable because it felt like he was taking advantage of her to an extent. I also felt like the relationship between Madeline and Evan was rushed and didn't feel very real. The book spends a lot of time focused on elements of the story that I imagine will be helpful for future books, but in the process it felt like uncovering Maria's story got lost. I think that if the book had been more balanced with that plot it would have been better. I just felt like Madeline's journey and self-discovery were a bit rushed.

Overall, I think the story was a cool idea and it kinda gave off some Ghost Whisperer vibes, but I just wanted something more. I felt a disconnect with most of the characters and didn't think the story gave us enough of Maria. I think it will be interesting to see where the author takes the series in the future.

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