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.
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
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