Title: Author: Lily Sawyer
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Buy Link: Catch of the Day
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Genre: action/adventure, gay, romance, fantasy
Length: Novella (129 pages, 25 k words)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: A fairytale like cotton candy, fluffy and sweet, but with rather flat characters and several plot holes which were patched up with miracles for band-aid.
The Blurb: Kellan Murphy is a successful car dealer in Chicago, but he isn’t happy with his life. He finds his job boring and wants a change. After the sudden death of his lover he decides to move someplace warm. He sees an ad for the Florida Keys in a magazine and packs everything and moves to the Keys. Kellan starts his new life as a fisherman and tour guide. He has his own home and boat, but the one thing missing is someone to share his life with. On a rare day off he decides to go fishing and what he finds at the end of his fishing line changes his life forever.
The Review: One day Kellan goes fishing on his own in a secret cove. When he reels in his fishing line, he finds he has caught a merman. He’s a little bit puzzled at first, but the merman is so attractive that Kellan forgets immediately about this being a fabled being and invites Jaran, as the merman gives his name, to come home with him. Jaran’s tail makes for some difficult logistics, for of course Kellan can’t carry a merman around in plain sight, but after some flip-flopping around, Jaran solves the problem by removing a magical ring and – hey presto! – has his legs back, and he’s even appropriately dressed. For Jaran used to be human, and the Queen of the Sea changed him into a merman in order to save his life after a jetski accident.
The two men spend time together, Jaran alternating between his fishtail and his legs and enjoying all the things he couldn’t have as a merman (for example, pancakes, coffee, and driving around in a car) Although there’s attraction between them from the very beginning, Kellan still mourns his dead lover and is reluctant to start something new, which Jaran accepts understandingly. However, they need to get together at some point, or we wouldn’t have a story, and eventually, they do. Here, too, Jaran alternates between his human and his merman form, which adds a nice twist to their sexual experiences.
Kellan puts on his scuba gear, and Jaran takes him home to Palmyra, the city under the sea. An incident with a malevolent Palmyran makes it clear to everybody, Kellan and Jaran as well as the other merpeople, that our heroes are meant for each other. But now Lydia, the Queen, feels compelled to reveal an unpleasant truth to Jaran, which means he’ll have to leave Kellan or die. Well, they won’t be separated forever, Jaran will return in fifty years, but still… Bereft of just another lover, Kellan falls into deep despair. How will he ever endure fifty years without Jaran? He’ll surely be dead by then, if not Fate takes mercy in the lovers and reunites them by miracle.
With its almost classic pairing of a merman and a human, this could have been a nice enough fairytale, but it fell completely short for me due to its plot flaws. They kept ripping me out of the story right from the moment when Jaran took off his magical ring and, just like this, was human again. Completely with magically appearing clothes. I thought “Huh?” and then, “Well, okay, this is fantasy,” and read on. But things like this kept popping up, the more the further I got in the story, and towards the end they were layered so thickly that it bordered on ridiculous, always following the same pattern: the heores are caught between a rock and a hard place and then – abracadabra – the problem vanishes into thin air. Not to mention a number of implausibilities that had nothing to do with the fantasy setting and everything with simple logic.
Another weakness of this book, at least for me, was the writing style. Clipped, concised sentence stringed together made the reading feel rushed, although the narrative occasionally lingered on banalities.
Here is an example:
“After spending some time out in the open ocean, he sailed into his favorite, private spot; a deserted cove. He picked up his lucky fishing pole and cast it into the water. It wasn’t long before he was catching fish. They’d make a delicious dinner, and whatever he didn’t use he’d freeze. He’d worked up an appetite so he took a break to have lunch. “
It was perhaps this writing style that, for me, kept the characters flat, their interactions and dialogue stagy, even with the numerous internal and external mentionings of feelings and emotions. Add to this some head hopping and obvious grammatical errors, and the story had lost me to a point where even the good aspects couldn’t save it for me.
There may be other readers who don’t mind the writing style and can immerse themselves better in a setting where problems are magically solved and logic isn’t really important. It isn’t as if this book didn’t also have its good aspects, too. For example, pollution of the sea and environment protection are apparently matters close to the author’s heart as indicated by the prominent role these topics play in the story. In fact, they are mentioned often enough that I felt my nose start itching from the rubbing it in, good intentions notwithstanding, but at least this didn’t turn overly preachy. The sex scenes with Jaran in merman form were surprisingly un-gross but interesting and written with a good deal of knowledge about sea-mammal anatomy; I actually thought those the best scenes in the book.
All in all, this time the weaknesses outweighed the strengths of the story for me, so I can’t really recommend this book. Yet, my opinion is entirely mine; others may feel diferently.