REVIEW: Darker Water (Once and Forever #1) by Lauren Stewart

I was looking for something light and a couple of friends recommended Darker Water, a modern take on the fairytale The Frog Prince.

After Laney is unceremoniously dumped by yet another frog, she’s done with dating…

If you kiss a lot of frogs, all you end up with is sore lips and a bunch of frogs. And if you kiss a lot of princes, hoping at least one of them will stay that way, all you get is a horrific amount of disappointment and even more frogs.

Sitting in a coffee shop one afternoon, Laney meets Carson and agrees to a no-strings hook-up. Alas, their sexy time is thwarted when they arrive at Carson’s apartment. Carson is all in for…

Unfortunately for Carson, after some thought, Laney decides she’s not ready for a one night stand; not sure she can separate sex and love or turning Carson into yet another frog. Instead they become friends-without-benefits; meeting for coffee, spending time getting to know each other and flirting, but not crossing the line. Of course, as they spend more and more time together, it’s increasingly difficult for both to not develop feelings and resist their attraction.

The pace of Darker Waters was somewhat slow for the first half, but is wrought with a healthy amount of sexual tension and witty banter to keep things interesting.

I enjoyed these characters and the surrounding plot. The story did become somewhat maudlin as we learn more and more about Carson’s heart wrenching past and why he won’t let himself have a relationship with Laney even when there’s little doubt neither can separate sex and love anymore.

Overall, a well-executed, entertaining read and beginning to this series. The end is a tad bit abrupt and I’d have loved an epilogue. Hopefully, Laney and Carson will make an appearance in the next book.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️