Category Archives: merfolk

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt by Sharon Johnson

💫✨💫Reviewed by Kiwi💫✨💫

TITLE: Beyond A Reasonable Doubt

SERIES: Doubt series

AUTHOR: Sharon Johnson

PUBLISHER: Wicked Words Publishing

LENGTH: 241pages

RELEASE DATE: November 30 , 2015

BLURB: DeMatteo Santiago is the Alpha of one of the largest prides in North America. He is a young, successful lion shifter, surrounded by a large family and his devoted lover. By anyone’s account he has more than any one man can ask for, but his lion cares of nothing except finding their mate.

An unexpected business trip pits DeMatteo and his long awaited mate on opposite sides of the courtroom. But when challenged by ex-lovers, nosey siblings, and crazy hunters, DeMatteo realizes that finding his mate was the easy part. The real question is whether they will live long enough to be together.

This release is an M/M paranormal shifter romance. This series will contain, graphic violence, graphic language, and Mpreg. What it will not be is an instant mate fairytale, as forces set out to destroy everything and everyone.

REVIEW: Alright, now we’re finally getting into the story of Matt’s life after his parent’s deaths. Now, as I’ve stated before, I love shifter stories in general, lion shifter in particular because I’m one of those crazy cat ladies that love all things feline. I will also admit that I like Mpreg stories; they fascinate me. So, put both of those elements together and of course I’m in.

Matt is a alpha lion of a large pride. I like the fact that he’s not just a lion shifter. He’s a highly successful and sought after attorney in the human world so I like how the author wrote him to be able to balance interacting in and with the human world as well as the paranormal world.

The human world is where he finds his true mate, Sean. Sean’s the opposing attorney in a very messy human divorce. Matt is ecstatic that he find his mate but there’s just a few glitches in the program. One, Sean’s human so there’s the how-in-the-hell-am-I-going-to-explain-this aspect to this mating. Two, they’re both with other people—Sean has a girlfriend, Matt a boyfriend so there’s the how-in-the-hell-am-I-going-to-make-a-clean-break aspect of those situations. Sean’s breakup was painless compared to Matt’s. I felt so very bad for Hugh! It was to the point that I didn’t care for the Matt’s character at all. Even though Matt made it clear that whatever they had was just sex, I still felt that he could’ve handled it with a lot more grace than he did. The way that he did it was a bit foul. It was like he told Hugh and then reminded him that he was just something to play with until the real thing comes along. It was sad. I understood that he made it clear in the beginning what type of relationship it was to be but fifteen years…I felt he could’ve at least given the poor guy a week or two before just tossing him out of the house. And Matt’s sisters didn’t make the situation any better. I actually loathed them for they way they treated Hugh. I felt like they were all rubbing salt in a cut Matt inflicted. It’s like Hugh has been mistreated all his life and were aware of that but didn’t care. They acted like insensitive bitches. And I didn’t care what happened to or with them for the rest of the story.

There’s threats from all sides, human hunters and other paranormals. Add in the mess from the breakup with Hugh and it’s not an easy walk for Matt and Sean. And you know what? They didn’t deserve one. I felt that they deserved every bit of drama and chaos that came their way; they deserved the karma over how their exes were treated.

I really enjoyed reading this book. You know the author did a great job when the reader has such visceral reactions to the characters and you’re absorbed in the storyline.

The only thing about the book that I didn’t quite care for was the tenses. I think it was told in a–I don’t know-narrative voice?  I’m not sure if that’s what it’s called. It was like someone was telling you the story as opposed to you reading it as it’s happening…I can’t explain it properly but it drove me nuts. I tried to roll with it but after the first chapter I ended up substituting the tenses and the changing the wording in my head and that made it easier for it to click. It weird, I know but it’s a quirk of mine.

I usually hate cliffhangers but if the story’s really good, as this one was, I don’t mind it so much. Especially this time because I had the next book on hand so I was able to quickly get to it. In all, I think it worked out rather nicely.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

http://kimichanexperience.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/image2.jpg

Erasing All Doubt by Sharon Johnson

💫✨💫Reviewed by Kiwi💫✨💫

TITLE: Erasing All Doubt

SERIES: Prequel to Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

AUTHOR: Sharon Johnson

PUBLISHER: Wicked Words Publishing

LENGTH: 72 pages

RELEASE DATE: January 8 , 2016

BLURB: Eighty six thousand, four hundred seconds. One thousand, four hundred and forty minutes. Twenty four hours. One day. In his twenty five years of life DeMatteo Santiago had often taken for granted how much could change in a single Day. When DeMatteo crawled into bed at 10:30 pm on May 7th, 1980 there was no way of knowing how the next twenty four hours would forever alter his life. As a young Alpha lion shifter DeMatteo has left his pride, in search of his mate, and a pride of his own. But the fates have been conspiring for centuries to lead him to this precise moment in time. May 8 1980, 10:30 pm, a moment in time that will forever change the life of Matthew (DeMatteo) Santiago. Facing the challenges of being the new Alpha of the largest pride in the United States, DeMatteo must find a way to lead in the face of his own personal tragedy.

REVIEW: This is the prequel to the first book in the Doubt series which is pretty much a map of all the characters in the upcoming books and their lives. This novella reveals how Matt becomes the alpha of the pride after the death of his parents, his relationship with Hugh and such.

You definitely should read this novella prior to starting the first book because it actually gives the background stories to many of the characters. I made the mistake of reading the first book before reading the prequel and I must say that I was a little bit confused as to what was going on and who everyone was in relation to Matt. I stopped in the middle of the first book and went back to the prequel.

I liked how she mapped out each character’s life and gave us a feel of each of the characters. The only issue I had with the story was Hugh’s backstory. You read he’s experienced some abuses from his old pride but it’s mentioned in the vaguest of terms for most part of the story. It’s finally revealed but by this time, I had pretty much giving up on ever finding out. Now reading about his past makes me that much more sympathetic towards what his character goes through in the first book.

You’re not going to really connect with the characters because this prequel is simply a map into the character’s lives and personalities. You will get the full story in the upcoming books. In all, I think she did a good job. This book piqued my interest because I am a fan of shifter stories in general, feline shifters in particular. Because I am obsessively in love with all things cats, I feel that there’s not nearly enough books featuring feline shifters.

This is a nice novella acts as the appetizer before the main courses.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

BUY LINKS:

 

Amazon

 

 

http://kimichanexperience.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/image2.jpg

Seven Tears at High Tide by C.B. Lee Tour with Excerpt and Giveaway

Seven Tears 1600px COVER-Front

Author Name: C.B. Lee

Book Name: Seven Tears at High Tide

Release Date: October 15, 2015

Blurb:

Kevin Luong walks to the ocean’s edge with a broken heart. Remembering a legend his mother told him, he lets seven tears fall into the sea. “I just want one summer—one summer to be happy and in love.” Instead, he finds himself saving a mysterious boy from the Pacific—a boy who later shows up on his doorstep professing his love. What he doesn’t know is that Morgan is a selkie, drawn to answer Kevin’s wish. As they grow close, Morgan is caught between the dangers of the human world and his legacy in the selkie community to which he must return at summer’s end.

Continue reading

Into the Wind (Mermen of Ea Book 2) Audiobook by Shira Anthony Narrated by Michael Stellman

Dreamspinner Presents
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6710

IntoWindAUDMedBlurb

Mermen of Ea: Book Two

Since learning of his merman shifter heritage, Taren has begun building a life with Ian Dunaidh among the mainland Ea. But memories of his past life still haunt him, and as the threat of war with the hostile island merfolk looms ever closer, Taren fears he will lose Ian the same way he lost his beloved centuries before. Together they sail to the Gateway Islands in search of the fabled rune stone—a weapon of great power the Ea believe will protect them—and Odhrán, the pirate rumored to possess it.

After humans attack the Phantom, Taren finds himself washed up on an island, faced with a mysterious boy named Brynn who promises to lead him to Odhrán. But Taren isn’t sure if he can trust Brynn, and Odhrán is rumored to enslave Ea to protect his stronghold. Taren will have to put his life on the line to find his way back to Ian and attempt to recover the stone. Even if he does find it, his troubles are far from over: he and Ian are being stalked by an enemy who wants them dead at all costs.

Review

This is no book for the un-initiated! Though I feel you could read it as a standalone, I think you’d be confused and missing a lot!

Shira Anthony puts SO MUCH detail and description into these stories. Her most powerful weapon is her world-building. It is complete, full and gorgeous.

She is not afraid to give our guys their love story and then yank it from their feet a few times before letting them be happy, either.
From book one we know that Teran and Ian have a history far beyond this life-span. This story explores that history.

There are several new characters, Odhran being one – another pirate captain who shows Teran more about his past.

There is an epic – I mean EPIC – battle, some sadness and then some wonder.

If you are a fan of the series you won’t want to miss this installment and follow our Teran and Ian through their adventures.

Audio
Michael Stellman narrated book one and does another excellent job with book 2.  He has such a pleasing voice at a great pace with a knack for emotion.  He absolutely adds to the experience.

4.5 of 5 hearts

4.5

10805469_1500047746947637_197599976_n

Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea 1) Audiobook by Shira Anthony Narrated by Michael Stellman

Dreamspinner Presents
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6536

StealingTheWindAUDMEDBlurb

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

We start this with Taren being sold to a pirate captain (Rider) by the man who essentially raised him in return for gambling debts.
Taren then falls into a triad relationship with Rider and his current “cabin boy”, Bastien. Rider offers Taren his freedom if he agrees to stay on board for three years. To say Taren is grateful is putting it mildly. The relationship is consensual if you disregard that Taren is Redier’s property and can’t really say no, but Taren does enjoy it and he eventually develops feelings for the other two.

There is a skirmish and Taren is tossed out to sea (after two years with the triad) where he is rescued by Ian, another sea captain, Ian, of a rival ship.

Ian is a merman and it turns out so is Taren. Ian develops feelings for Taren and the two begin a relationship. Taren has to embrace his origins or else he might die so Ian helps him to transform into his alternate form.

When Taren and Ian return to Ian’s homeland, Taren is accused of being a spy and thrown in jail. Ian has to decide if his affection and strange connection to Taren is more important than his trust in the rulers of his land. There is a bit of a twist thrown in as well and we are left with the two essentially in a HFN scenario that leads to book 2.

**
This is an amazingly rich and dense book. I’m assuming that all the wonderful world building will carry us through the next books in the series and we will see more of the relationship and the mysterious tie between the two of them develop more fully.

I had a hard time seeing Taren with others in an on-page relationship and this keeps me from giving this book 5 of 5 hearts. I can appreciate that it’s part of creating his back story and giving us the full impression of his life up until he meets Ian, but I can’t say that I liked it.

We don’t get to see much of Taren and Ian together and happy in this book so I look forward to seeing where the two will go from here.

Shira Anthony writes beautifully and has a gorgeous imagination and I’m looking forward to seeing where she takes us in book 2.

4 of 5 hearts

Audio

I really like Michael Stellman. He is a very easy narrator to listen to. He doesn’t go over the top in differentiating the voices of all the many characters in this complex story, but you can always tell who is talking. He does a nice job with the new names and definitely adds to the overall experience.

4.5 of 5 hearts

4.5

10805469_1500047746947637_197599976_n

Running with the Wind by Shira Anthony Tour with Interview, Excerpt and Giveaway

RunningWithTheWind-colorsREVSequel to Into the Wind

With the final confrontation between the island and mainland Ea factions looming, Taren and Ian sail with Odhrán to investigate a lost colony of merfolk in the Eastern Lands. Upon their arrival, the King of Astenya welcomes them as friends. Odhrán, however, isn’t so quick to trust the descendent of the man who held him prisoner for nearly a decade, especially now that he has someone to cherish and protect—the mysterious winged boy he rescued from the depths.

Armed with the knowledge he believes will save the Ea, Taren returns to the mainland. With Ian at his side, Taren convinces Vurin that their people must unite with their island brethren before it’s too late. When Seria and his men attack, Taren must call upon the ancient power of the rune stone to protect his comrades. But using stone’s immeasurable power commands a hefty price—and Ian fears that price is Taren’s life.
Pages or Words: 67,000 words

unknown

Excerpt:

DEAFENING CANNON fire rang out from the port side of the ship. Ian braced himself against the stair railing to keep from falling backward as the ship leaned deep and heeled hard to starboard. He heaved himself upward and crested the stairwell to the deck as the ship pitched again, forcing him to grab one of the barrels lashed to the deck to remain upright. Cannon shot landed off the bow, sending water over the forecastle and cascading down the already sodden deck. The acrid smell of gunpowder stung his nostrils and burned his eyes, and the familiar scent caused his adrenaline to skyrocket and set his mind racing.
“Renda! What the hell is happening?”
“She’s fired on us with no warning shot, Captain!” Renda, the ship’s quartermaster, barely looked at him as he struggled to steer the Phantom out of the line of fire.
“What colors does she fly?” Ian shouted as he ran toward the helm and lifted a spyglass to one eye.
“None, Captain! Her crew’s human! Navy ship!” Renda shouted above the cannon fire.
Ian felt it too. There were no Ea aboard the attacking ship. An entirely human crew? Only the Derryth navy sailed brigantines. But if he and the crew of the Phantom were fair game for the king and his navy, why didn’t they fly Derryth’s colors? They’d appeared out of nowhere. Had the mist been so thick that the men on watch had missed her?
Renda ceded the helm before Ian could think much more about it. For now, he needed to focus on their attackers and on gaining the upper hand. It had been more than twenty years since Ian had taken his ship into battle, but his crew was well seasoned. He prayed silently to his goddess that the winds would favor them.
“Derryth?” he asked Renda as he steered to avoid another blast from the enemy’s cannons. “Aligned with the Council? Or is this just a coincidence?” He’d expected to face the island Ea in battle eventually, but never had he expected them to use humans to chase them down.
Renda scowled. “No coincidence. Magic, seeing as the fog cleared just in time for them to attack. They had help tracking us down. A mage, no doubt.”
Humans did not possess magic. When had the island Ea recruited the humans to their cause? The thought made Ian’s blood boil. Humans had nearly wiped out their kind hundreds of years before, looking for the fabled rune stone, a weapon more powerful than the Derryth Kingdom’s largest cannons. Had someone told the humans they were heading to the Gateway Islands to find the reclusive pirate, Odhrán, and recover the very weapon that had nearly been the cause of their destruction?
No. He mustn’t think about that now. He needed his wits about him to keep his ship safe. Then he could think more about the implications. He focused once again on the ship and her crew. The feel of the wood beneath his hands and the stiff wind against his cheek always warmed Ian’s soul, even in the midst of battle. The bright, crisp scent of the salt spray awakened his senses and mind. He’d been born for this command, although he’d paid a stiff price for it. His father before him had been a sailor, although he’d long given up the seafaring life by the time Ian had learned to sail in the Derryth navy. Sailing was in his bones and his blood. The only thing he loved more than sailing on the water was swimming in it.
Renda shouted more commands to the men manning the ropes, then turned back to Ian and scowled. “Their ship is fast. She’s shooting the sun and she has the weather beam.”
Stealing our wind! Ian cursed beneath his breath. With the enemy positioned between them and the wind, the Phantom could do little to maneuver. If he hadn’t been forced to stay within the Council’s reach, tied to the island, he’d have long before found the best clockmaker in Derryth and purchased a sextant. He was tired of others sighting guns upon the Phantom so easily. Their ancient astrolabe might have sufficed twenty years ago, during the civil war that cleaved his people in two, but it was useless against a better-equipped navy. As things stood, Ian could only guess at the angle of the enemy’s guns and what direction he might be able to steer the Phantom to avoid them.
He glanced skyward and was momentarily blinded by the sun’s brilliant reflection in the lookout’s spyglass. He moved his gaze to the mainsail and the seagulls that rode thermals alongside it. It had been a calm day until the enemy appeared. Now the wind raced the heavens. The telltales on the sails fluttered frantically with each powerful gust of the wind, making it difficult for Ian to determine the wind’s direction. He fought the helm in an effort to maintain their course as the sea swelled and the ship bucked. Worse yet, the Phantom was poorly situated in the wind on a close reach that placed the ship at a crucial disadvantage.
The enemy’s guns belched again and cannonballs spun past, spitting fiery tar and narrowly missing the main mast. The flames that licked from the metal nearly set the mainsail afire.
“They’re using pitch!” Renda shouted as the pungent smell of burning pine reached Ian’s nostrils.
Ian heard his father’s words echo in his mind. “There is nothing as deadly as fire at sea.” If one of those cannon blasts hit the Phantom, she’d go up in flames.
Heeling starboard as the Phantom was, her portside guns aimed high above the waterline. Each cannon shot fired was nothing more than wasted ammunition. They were outmanned, outgunned, and out-positioned in the wind. Damn. Ian considered his options quickly, mulling their position relative to the enemy and eyeing the wind in the sails. He had no choice but to bring the ship about and take aim with the starboard cannons. Yet if he turned and lost the wind, they’d end up in irons and stalled in the water.
“Are the starboard gun ports open?” Ian shouted.
Another blast from the enemy ship’s cannons landed within a yard of the Phantom. The ship shook with the impact, and several crewmembers scrambled to better tie down some of the supplies on deck.
“Aye, Captain! Ports open, guns loaded!”
A quick glance around the deck told Ian that his beloved Taren was not there. He reached out first with his innate senses and was relieved to feel Taren’s strong heartbeat as if it beat within his own chest. Their connection had continued to grow stronger over the past few months. Among Ea, a bond like theirs—what their people called soulbound—was rare. Where most Ea could only sense that one of their brethren was near, Ian and Taren could sense each other’s presence in particular. Sometimes Taren’s fear became Ian’s, and although Taren had not spoken of it, Ian guessed his own anger and frustration sometimes became Taren’s.
Ian looked up, searching the mastheads and rigging with his eyes, and found Taren atop the main mast. He worked furiously, tying Turk’s heads in the rigging as fast as he could and adjusting the sails to compensate for the heeling Phantom.
“Trim the sails! Man the starboard cannons and tell the gunners to fire when I come about!” Ian knew it would do little good. If they headed farther into the wind, they’d lose speed and stall. “Tell the gunners to fire when they can!”
“Aye, sir!” Renda barked commands and the boatswains flew into action with whistles and hand signals. When Ian saw that Taren had acknowledged his orders, he brought the Phantom hard about. She bucked the squall and swell as Ian fought the wheel to turn her, and she listed her worst yet, her masts lying but thirty degrees off the water.
Damn.
At midturn, a volley of cannon fire caught the Phantom’s bow, causing her to shudder angrily as wood splintered and flew, mortally wounding one of the crew in the chest. Bright red blood splashed the deck to mingle with salt water and run past the smoldering pitch.
Crian! Renda ran to help the injured sailor. Perhaps he could help the man long enough that he might transform and heal his wounds. But Renda’s slight shake of his head and icy expression told Ian there was nothing to be done. Crian was dead.
Ian’s gut clenched when he thought of Crian’s family. Why was he so surprised that he’d lost a man? Had he really believed this voyage would be anything but risky? He’d naively hoped their mission would be a simple one: find Odhrán, retrieve the rune stone, and return it to Vurin, the leader of Ea’s mainland colony, so he might better protect their people.
He searched the rigging for Taren again and couldn’t find him. He’d felt Taren’s steady presence only moments ago, but he’d been too preoccupied with the battle to keep track of him. At least he could still feel the steady beat of Taren’s heart. He finally spotted Taren aft, now atop the mizzenmast, clinging to guy ropes and swinging wildly with each turn of the helm.
Taren had left their cabin at dawn to work on the sails with the intention of increasing the ship’s speed. He loved to toil on the rigging, and Ian knew how his spirits soared with the feel of the wind on his face. Taren’s acrobatics never ceased to amaze Ian, but they nonetheless left him cold with fear. Taren was nothing short of a long-tailed monkey in the rigging.
“Taren! Taren!”
Ian’s shouts went unheeded—Taren couldn’t hear him over the chaos of the battle. Ian only hoped Taren had guessed what his next maneuver might be, and had good purchase on the ropes to keep him from falling.
The navy ship tacked in tandem with the Phantom and now aimed its sights at her stern. Ian couldn’t risk a blow to the most vulnerable part of the ship and had no choice but to adjust course again to avoid a hit. He spun the wheel the hardest yet to starboard.
Hold on, Taren!
The ship protested the quick maneuver, her teak wood groaning and creaking under the strain as she stalled in irons. In his quick decision to turn hard, he’d been reckless. They were headed directly into the wind now and were dead in the water.
Ian looked up and found Taren as he kicked out like lightning and baffled the aft sail to back the ship. An eerie silence descended, and they waited to see if the Phantom would catch her wind speed. Not a whisper of wind touched the sail. Taren reached for the rigging and swung out hard, kicking angrily at the sail once again. The sail billowed once, twice, and Ian’s breath stuttered, his warning shout lodged in his throat. He knew precisely what the aft sail would do. With a whoosh and an earsplitting snap, she filled and the Phantom regained her air once again, leaping to top speed.
Ian watched in admiration as Taren swung down on the ropes just in time to avoid the snap of the sail. He landed gracefully on the deck a dozen feet away.
“Ian!” Taren shouted as he ran over to the wheel. Another shot from their attackers landed close to the Phantom, causing Taren to grab a hold of one of the nearby rails.
“Excellent work,” Ian said as he adjusted the ship’s heading. “Now if we can only make some headway—”
“Why don’t you send a few men down?” Taren panted hard, clearly winded. Ian sensed his excitement and his fear. No. Sensing wasn’t quite right. Ian felt Taren’s emotions as if they were his own.
“Down?”
“Send them down with axes. Crowbars. Something. Anything. Have them transform and attack from below.”
Ian frowned. “It won’t work.”
“Why not?” Taren demanded. “If we could—”
Taren’s words were cut short by a volley that landed even closer to the ship. Ian fought to maintain his course. “It doesn’t work that way,” he shouted over the din of the waves crashing over the bow. “It’s far more—”
But Taren was already halfway toward the bow before Ian could finish. “No! Taren! You don’t understand! You can’t just—” Ian had no one to blame but himself for Taren’s lack of knowledge of Ea battle tactics. He glanced around, hoping to find someone to take the wheel. He needed to stop Taren before he did something dangerous, but before he could call out to Barra, the Phantom’s guns fired and missed. The navy ship returned fire, and a loud crack sounded from overhead as the shot hit the mizzenmast and the aft sail caught fire. The mast shattered, sending beam and splinter out at light speed. The sound of the mast breaking into smithereens was the last thing Ian remembered before his world grayed, then faded to black.

TAREN TRANSFORMED as he entered the warm tropical water with a splash. He’d grabbed an ax as he’d run, ignoring Ian’s shouts. He didn’t need Ian to lecture him about the danger of attacking the brigantine from below. But if this worked…. He’d barely caught his breath when he had to dive deep to avoid a deadly blow to the head from the enemy ship’s keel as she passed over him. Pumping his powerful tail, he swam after the Phantom’s challenger. He knew Ian would be angry with him for taking such a risk—he could almost feel that anger burn hot within his own heart. He’d face Ian’s wrath later. Had the Ea become so complacent in their human forms that they’d forgotten what they were?
The enemy brigantine was sleek and faster than the Phantom. They’d been nearing the Gateways, the chain of islands just west of Ea’nu, looking for Odhrán, the pirate rumored to possess the rune stone, when they’d been set upon. Taren surmised the brigantine’s captain knew the Phantom would be in the vicinity, and had waited in the mist until she could gain the weather beam over them. Strange. Stranger yet, he’d sensed that the ship held humans when it passed over him. Why would humans pursue them? Had they learned of the existence of merfolk, or did they believe them to be pirates?
No. It’s more than that. This all felt so familiar, as if he’d dreamed it. Expected it. Sensed something he hadn’t understood until just now.
Several more cannon blasts narrowly missed the Phantom and landed in the water nearby, bringing Taren back to himself. He fought the rising swells and powerful current as the wind picked up speed, echoing his own growing apprehension and worry for Ian and the Phantom’s crew. He dove, pumping and flexing the powerful flukes of his tail to propel him toward the enemy ship.
He reached her rudder a minute later. As fast as she was, he fought to keep up with her as he swung the ax at the place where the pintles and gudgeons met to hold the rudder in place. He’d expected resistance when the axe struck the metal of the hinges. He didn’t expect the force that threw him backward and knocked the ax from his hand.
Magic? Vurin had taught him to sense it, but he’d been too distracted by his work on the sails to feel it before. But how would a human ship use magic? What a fool he’d been to assume Ian and the other Ea wouldn’t have sensed it as well.
Taren heard another explosion right before it reverberated through the sea, and he watched beneath the water as the Phantom’s keel turned sharply and she suddenly lost speed. Even with her crew’s skill, without the wind, the Phantom would have no chance of outrunning the enemy. Would Ian surrender to the humans? Could he? If the humans knew what they were….
Of course they know! They’re using magic. He needed to get back to the ship. Help them fight the humans. On the ropes, he could do something. Here in the water, he was helpless.
He broke the surface of the water and glided easily over a swell using his tail to keep his head above the waves. He couldn’t remain above the surface long. His Ea lungs protested the air, created as they were to breathe oxygen through water. But he needed to see the plight of the Phantom for himself.
He watched as half a dozen men climbed the brigantine’s masts. They were readying to raft alongside the Phantom and board her. In a minute, perhaps two, they’d swing from the masts and land on the Phantom’s deck. Taren’s heart grew cold with fear, and the air whipped around him as he prayed the wind would change direction. If the Phantom could gain even a modicum of speed, her crew might outmaneuver the humans.
The reverberation of multiple volleys of cannon fire radiated through the water and sent fear through Taren. The first missed its mark, but the second shattered the mizzenmast. Pain seared Taren’s heart and he knew Ian had been hit. Panic shot up his spine as he felt Ian lose consciousness. No! Goddess, no! Please, you can’t take him! Not when I’ve just found him again!
Taren prayed once more that the winds would shift. If the Phantom could gain some speed, he had faith their ship could outmaneuver the humans even with the damage to the mizzen—Barra, their navigator, knew these waters well, knew the reefs well enough to navigate between them, whereas the humans might not. If he isn’t too badly hurt.
The surface of the water rippled, although this time it was not on account of the battling ships. The wind. Had the goddess heard his prayer? He closed his eyes and imagined the goddess’s hand coaxing the wind to shift to favor Ian and his crew. He felt the wind stroke his cheeks, felt its fingers stir the water. Imagined the Phantom’s sails filling and the feel of the helm as it pulled against the rudder.
Taren felt the zing of magic caress his skin—a familiar sensation he tried to place—but his attention was drawn upward by the sound of an explosion. He looked up in time to see something dark speed toward him: another volley of cannon fire. He flexed his tail and swam down. The cannonball missed him by inches. As he sank beneath the water with a heavy heart, a flash of movement filled his peripheral vision, the outline of a tail. Before he could turn to get a better look, something hit him hard in the back of the head.
He valiantly fought the urge to surrender to the darkness, but his eyes fluttered closed.
Rest now, a voice in his mind commanded, and he knew no more.

IAN LAY flat on his back, looking up at the mizzenmast—what was left of it. The mast itself was cleaved in two, the upper topsail was missing, and the lower hung from the ropes over the mizzen sail. With the help of a strong arm, he pulled himself up to a sitting position.
“Damn him! I should chain him to the ship.”
Renda frowned at him with concern. “Are you all right?”
“Of course,” Ian growled as he ignored the pounding in his head and the warmth of the blood that trickled from his scalp. “It’s Taren I’m worried about.”
“You’re not all right.”
“And what would you have me do about it?” Ian stood, swayed, then steadied himself on Renda’s shoulder.
“At least let me stop the bleeding.”
Ian ignored Renda and stumbled back to the wheel. He’d expected to see Barra there, since he’d been shouting commands to the other men while Ian steered, but instead saw Keral, one of the other hands. At least he’d the sense to take over the helm while Renda fussed over Ian like a mother hen. The ship bucked and shuddered as Keral turned sharply to avoid another cannon blast. Ian gritted his teeth and grabbed Renda’s arm, thankful that he was nearby.
They were out of options. Even with the mizzen sails intact, they’d been outpaced by the smaller ship. With the mizzenmast destroyed, they would be far slower and the Phantom would be more difficult to steer. Ian was just about to tell Keral to give the order for all but his officers to abandon ship when a gust of air brushed his cheek. For a split second, he sensed something familiar about the wind, as if it had stirred a memory buried deep in his soul. Then the feeling fled and he realized the wind had shifted to the northeast. A moment later, he felt the Phantom’s remaining sails catch the wind. The ship began to pick up speed, moving away from the enemy ship, which had slowed so its crew might board.
“Hard to starboard,” Ian ordered. “Now!”
Keral spun the wheel and the ship heeled dangerously close to the waves. “Fire!” Ian shouted to the men manning the guns.
The pain in Ian’s head, which had until then been just a dull ache, lanced with reverberations from the cannon blast. At nearly the same time, he felt another pain at the back of his head
Taren!
Ian dropped to his knees and clutched his head as his heart beat so hard against his ribs that it hurt. Goddess! Taren!
“Let me help you.” There was none of the usual chiding in Renda’s voice as he gently pulled Ian’s hand from his left temple. Ian felt the warmth of Renda’s healing against his skull. With the touch, Ian’s pain abated.
“Taren,” he moaned when he came back to himself. He reached out with his mind and felt the beat of Taren’s heart. Slower than before, but steady. Knocked out, perhaps, by the last volley?
“You felt his pain?” Renda asked, clearly surprised.
Ian nodded. “He’s alive. But he’s unconscious. Injured. I must find—” “A hit, sir!” one of the men shouted over the howling wind.
With Renda’s help, Ian got back to his feet. He saw it now—the smoking wound in the enemy ship’s stern. She floundered, her rudder damaged and no longer able to control her course. Even if she used her sails to steer, the Phantom would be long gone. Ian murmured a prayer of thanksgiving to the goddess. Now, if he could find Taren, he’d rest easy.

Sales Links:

eBook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6455
Paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6456

Interview:

Today I’m interviewing Shira Anthony author of Running with the Wind, the final installment in the Mermen of Ea Series from Dreamspinner Press. Hi Shira, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

Thanks so much for hosting me! I’m so excited about the release of the last Mermen of Ea book. For those who may not already know, I’m a former opera singer (you can hear a live recording of me singing here, if you’re interested) turned lawyer and author. I work as public sector attorney doing child advocacy, and not only do I work full-time, when I’m not working I pretty much spend every waking hour writing.

Into the Wind is the final installment in the Mermen of Ea Series. The series is high fantasy with pirates and mermen shifters in the tradition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Romance and adventure on the high seas with magic, eternal love, and the future of an entire civilization at stake.
How do you develop your plots and characters?

When I write fantasy like the Mermen of Ea Series, I usually start with the plot. I like to focus in on one or two characters in my books and “grow” them from point A to point B by the end of the story. In the case of the mermen books, it was the opposite. I started out writing a pirate captor/captive story, but a few chapters in, my main character announced that he wasn’t human! After I listened to him, the entire plot suddenly became clear.
Who doesn’t love a good hero? Tell us about your protagonist. Was there a real life inspiration behind them?

I’m often inspired by real people when I write my stories, but my characters tend to be a mixture of several people. Taren, the protagonist in the Mermen of Ea books, is the kind of person who has grown up without much love, and grown up believing his parents sold him into slavery. Over the course of the three books, Taren must come into his own and become the leader he was meant to be. It’s a difficult road for him, and he does it with the help of his soul mate, Ian, and friends who believe in him. My favorite kind of hero!

What real-life inspirations do you use when world building?

If you think about it, worlds all have things in common. The five senses, for example. If it’s an earthlike world, which the Ea universe is, then it has water and land and people who share things in common us. So when I created the Ea world, I thought about all these things. I’d constantly ask myself, “What does this smell like? Sound like?” Or “How would someone react to this?” Add to that the myths and stories that you need to create a history of the people in the new universe, and you pretty much have your basic worldbuilding.

Once you have the basics, then you write your story. As you move along, you realize you need to build up certain parts of the world to support the story. You also layer sounds, smells, visuals, etc. on top of the basic story. All of these things create a three-dimensional universe your readers can step into.

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, you have to reveal the world to your readers in a way that they can digest it. In the Ea universe, I do this through Taren, who grew up human and must learn about his world himself. The reader then learns through him. It’s a great device that’s been used in a lot of fantasy writing, most recently in the Harry Potter stories.

Did you learn anything from this book and what was it?

I learned a lot writing the entire series. I learned about pacing a three-story arc, about writing fantasy, and about letting some of the plot points work themselves out. I learned that sometimes you need to trust your instincts and allow your characters to lead you in your writing. It’s fine to map out a plotline, but sometimes it’s good to take detours along the way.
It’s your last meal on earth. What do you choose?

Shellfish! Lobster, crab, scallops, and shrimp. Steamed with butter and lemons. Simple and delicious. Chocolate mousse for dessert! Okay, so now I’m hungry….

About the author:

In her last incarnation, Shira was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as “Tosca,” “i Pagliacci,” and “La Traviata,” among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.
Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 36’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.
Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shira.anthony
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shira-Anthony/177484618974406
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterShira
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/anthony0564/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4641776.Shira_Anthony
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ShiraAnthony/posts

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24027250-running-with-the-wind

&nbspa Rafflecopter giveaway

Shira Anthony Running With The Wind Cover Reveal

600x600Banner

 

About the author:
In her last incarnation, Shira was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as “Tosca,” “i Pagliacci,” and “La Traviata,” among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.
Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 36’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.
Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shira.anthony
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shira-Anthony/177484618974406
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterShira
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/anthony0564/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4641776.Shira_Anthony
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ShiraAnthony/posts

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24027250-running-with-the-wind
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain

RunningWithTheWind-colorsREV

Fairytales for Modern Queers by Emily Reed

Dreamspinner Presents:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5996fairy tales

Blurb

Gay teenager Hart could finish his fairy tale for class if his horrible stepsiblings would stop harassing him. Talia’s depression is like a sleeping curse and may kill her if she doesn’t ask for help. Independent, overweight bisexual Sienna deals with her “nice guy” neighbor while visiting her grandmother. When a mysterious girl climbs up Rachael’s fire escape, Rachael might finally break free from her overprotective mother. Transgender Amelia is bullied regularly for her identity, but she’ll show everyone exactly who she is. Princess Rellyn must face down a dragon since she’s seventh in line and battle her father since she’s not a boy, and she’s not sure which one is scarier. An adventurous knight whisks away genderfluid Noll when all they want is a quiet life on their farm. Mermaid Astrid wants revenge on the man who betrayed her, but is confused by her attraction to the one sailor immune to her song. Asexual Myka might love Princess Lysandria, but Myka must learn to control her inner werewolf before the king marries her off to “cure” her. With the help of a witch, blacksmith’s apprentice Malcolm must find his missing prince.

You’ve never heard stories like these at bedtime

Review

These are short – sometimes way too short – little LGBTQ takes on the old fairly tales.  In each there is a character or character that falls into that community who takes on a more modern/unique role.  Each story is a different set of people, using an old fairy tale as a template for a modern story.

The writing is good.  The idea is magnificent.  I really think that for the YA audience these will really ring true and find a home in the heart of the LGBTQ YA community.

However, for me, it felt like just as I was invested in the story – it ended.  So it was a little off-putting and frustrating.  I’d like to see these stories more fleshed out, I definitely think there is more that they have to offer.

I really liked that it wasn’t just gay or trans but a variety of gender roles/sexual orientations.  There really is something for everyone in this anthology.

Overall, I give it high points for the attempt with a little bit taken off for brevity.

If you are a YA fan I’d give this a try, it really is remarkable.

4 of 5 hearts

4

10805469_1500047746947637_197599976_n