Title & Link: Stealing the Wind
Author: Shira Anthony
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea)
Genre: Paranormal M/M
Rating: 5 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A high spirited adventure that is fraught with mystery and abounds with passionate love.
Blurb: Taren Laxley has never known anything but life as a slave. When a lusty pirate kidnaps him and holds him prisoner on his ship, Taren embraces the chance to realize his dream of a seagoing life. Not only does the pirate captain offer him freedom in exchange for three years of labor and sexual servitude, but the pleasures Taren finds when he joins the captain and first mate in bed far surpass his greatest fantasies.
Then, during a storm, Taren dives overboard to save another sailor and is lost at sea. He’s rescued by Ian Dunaidh, the enigmatic and seemingly ageless captain of a rival ship, the Phantom, and Taren feels an overwhelming attraction to Ian that Ian appears to share. Soon Taren learns a secret that will change his life forever: Ian and his people are Ea, shape-shifting merfolk… and Taren is one of them too. Bound to each other by a fierce passion neither can explain or deny, Taren and Ian are soon embroiled in a war and forced to fight for a future—not only for themselves but for all their kind.
Review: Please take note that I did not put M/M/M in the genre category. Yes, there is an initial three way relationship between Taren, Ryder and Bastian but after that is disrupted by Taren falling overboard, the rest of the novel–the bulk, in my opinion, is M/M. I must tell you I never read menage, not if it can be helped, and quite frankly the triple M that often accompanies the description of this novel put me off taking it on for review for quite some time. I am ever so glad I gave in and ignored my own misgivings because Stealing the WInd by Shira Anthony is a superb read and the scenes between the three men in the first 15 percent of the book are extremely well done. Really, it was just lovely to read!
The plot to this novel is very, very intricate but as I tracked this story I found it to be both understandable and fascinating. It will do the reader well to remember that this is the first of three planned books in this series so along with establishing a world from the past, it was also a venue to lay the foundation for future installments. I found that aspect of the novel to be very well done. So often, a first book is heavy laden with multiple characters and several different settings that I find them overwhelming. Not this time. While it helped that the majority of the action took place on sailing vessels, the islands that were established were well drawn and fixed in the story’s plot line long enough for the reader to get their bearings. Also, while there were several characters involved between the two ships and the islands, the names of those who were island bound were bandied about repeatedly by onboard sailors. Hence, I felt as though I already knew the leader of the revolt, Vurin, and had a good handle on the narrow-minded fear-mongerers that made up the council of Ea’nu.
At a young age Taren is supposedly sold to the island rigger, Borstan Laxley. Almost a father to Taren, it is a shock when Borstan hands Taren over to the local innkeeper as a way to pay off his gambling debts. Now, living on little but scraps from the inn’s table, Taren seeks to survive his ongoing slavery as an indentured servant. When the Sea Witch pulls into harbor bring Captain Rider to the inn, Taren’s fortune changes. He exchanges one type of servitude for another, now bound to the captain for three years as his servant. Here, Taren meets the captains lover Bastian and shares a bed with both men who take care of him and love him as best they can. But Taren is very aware that he is the third in this tryst and that the love the three share is not the same as the deep and lasting love that Bastian and Ryder have for each other.
While attempting to rescue a cabin boy who has pitched overboard one stormy evening, Taren is swept under away from the ship and miraculously survives. He is rescued by none other than Ryder’s enemy and former lover, Captain Ian Dunaidh. When Ian realizes that Taren’s true nature has been hidden from both him and the world by he use of magic at an early age, he sets out to help him make his first transformation into a merman.
However, Taren is not safe with Ian. Ian is bound by his oath of loyalty to take Taren before the council to be questioned for potentially being a spy–one sent by Vurin whom the council fears wants to take over the island of Ea’nu and slaughter the rest of the merfolk. Once imprisoned Taren is tortured and beaten, and Ian must now decide if he is going to rescue the man who has somehow pierced his heart and taken root there or leave him to die.
Believe me when I tell you that this is just the tip of all that surrounds Taren and Ian. As this story unfolds, the long forgotten past reveals its influence over both men and secrets that Ian has long held near and dear are revealed. I found the unfolding drama and mystical past to be really fascinating. I must admit I am chomping at the bit for the next installment of this series.
So, why did this story work so well? I have already remarked about the way in which the world and multiple characters were introduced made them easy to understand and interesting to read about. I must also say that I was delighted at how the menage scenes were done in a way that they focused on the relationship and care these men had for each other. Yes, there was hot sex, but it went beyond that. So often I find menage to be about the mechanics–who did what and how to whom rather than dwell on the growing love between the participants. Thankfully it was this aspect, the loving care, that author Shira Anthony chose to dwell on which, in turn, made her sex scenes both palatable and more vividly real.
Perhaps the trickiest element in this novel was the way in which Ian and Taren would come to terms with their ever floundering love for each other. To say that obstacles were thrown in the path of that love over and over is an understatement. But the tenacity with which Ian held that Taren must be free to choose his own path and, by default whom he chose to love, was what fed the passion that we read on the page. So conflicted and torn, Ian still held to allowing Taren to leave him if he so chose to do so and we were kept uncertain of how that would play out until the very last pages of the novel. This was no quick fall in love relationship. Instead it was one that very realistically was filled with doubt and second-guessing that led to miscommunication and its own small heartaches. Author Shira Anthony did a brilliant job in allowing her men to make mistakes and learn from them and so we got to watch a love develop that had strong roots and a lasting resonance.
Stealing the Wind is my first novel by author Shira Anthony but it certainly will not be my last. A tale of love and adventure, fraught with danger and snares unseen, Stealing the Wind is an intelligently written paranormal fantasy that leaves a lasting impression. I highly recommend it to you.