Sands of Deceit

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Sands of Deceit: A King Thrushbeard and Bluebeard Retelling by Celeste Baxendell (Bewitching Fairy Tales book 6)

Gisele once dreamed of a life ruling the court at Prince Cynrik’s side. She’d captivate them with her singing and control them with her carefully procured gossip. But all that has been striped away. All she wants now is a life away from the court that knows her shame. In exchange for an arranged marriage, she’ll do anything – even risk her life as a spy.

Hakim is leading a double life, and telling Gisele the truth puts them both at risk. If they can’t find the empire-shattering secret, the whole continent may fall. But how can Gisele find it when her heart is torn between two men – and she doesn’t think she deserves either.

Hakim will do anything to protect Gisele, but he might have run out of time when he comes under suspicion of murdering the young women who keep vanishing from his estate.

“May the stars align to your path.”

It’s so hard for an author to redeem a character we loved to hate in an earlier book, but Baxendell handles it beautifully. In Cinders of Glass, Gisele does everything in her power to keep Liora away from Cynrik, but in this book, we learn that she was motivated by more than just jealousy, and we come to love this feisty and complex character.

There is a theme of past trauma in this book and one scene where a jealous suitor attacks her. Both of these are handled with care and respect.

While this book does have a darker tone, it’s chock full of tropes that will make readers squirm in glee: enemies to lovers, a fake marriage, forced proximity, hidden identities – and only one bed! *gasp* (Don’t worry, it’s still not spicy!)

5 Roses
No swearing
Kissing. And a physical altercation.
Some blood and injuries but nothing gratuitous