Monday, 30 July 2012
Review: The Mighty Hunter (Lord of the Abyss 1) by Michelle M. Pillow.
Simple enough erotic novella - Bridget Dutton is a female scientist on a research ship that gets attacked by a sea monster known as a Scylla. She is rescued by hunky merman warrior Caderyn who was out hunting the monster. Bridget and the other female crew member are taken to Atlas, capital city of an undersea empire known as Ataran - yup it's Atlantis. How... original.
Bridget cannot return to the landworld as the merfolk cannot break the surface at all and cannot breathe air. She must stay under the protection of Caderyn until she chooses a husband - and king Lucius has taken a shine to her, but of course her heart... and body belong to the hunky Caderyn.
Towards the end of the book there is a tiny bit of action - where Bridget, now a mermaid, gets kidnapped by the Olympians, a group of evil amazonian like mermaids who keep male sex slaves and like nothing more than massacring humans. She escapes, meets up with Caderyn who was on his way to rescue her and gets taken to his country estate (under water) and they live happily ever after.
As you can tell from my synopsis, plot isn't this book's strong point. It's fairly unoriginal, though to be fair it hums along merrily enough and does nothing badly. The two major selling points are sex and mer content.
There's plenty of sex in such a short volume, and although it's not very varied, its pretty damn hot. It's taken the very easy option of all in human form, a little disappointing when we have fishtails and arm fins galore.
Lots and lots of proper mer content. Caderyn is a merman with a tail which manifests when he is outside the dome of the city. All humans get tails & gills if they survive the descent into this underwater world - That simplifies things nicely. I also like the fact that almost the whole book is set underwater and these merfolk cannot surface. The evil, demon eyed mermaids with their sex slaves and hedonistic ways are brilliant, I love the fact that these can surface, and our noble Atlanteans don't know why.
The romance element isn't badly handled either. It happens quickly, but I thought that it was reasonably convincing and Bridget did give token resistance and question everything like any sane person would.
The Mighty Hunter is a nice, light read. It's a decent enough erotic romance with a good level of mer content, plenty of sex and a hunky merman hero. It's not the best in it's field, but certainly not the worst. It is also only the first volume of a trilogy, and I'm quite looking forward to the other two volumes. I hope the evil mermaids show up - they were cool!
Saturday, 28 July 2012
Review: Sanctuary Season 1 (2008)
Sanctuary is one in a long line of supernatural TV shows, with a different creature focus each episode. Rather than hunting these abnormals however, a trained research team, led by Dr. Helen Magnus (Stargate's Amanda Tapping), capture creatures and offer them a refuge in 'The Sanctuary'. In the very first episode "Sanctuary for All" newcomer, police profiler Will Zimmerman gets a tour of the sanctuary and one of the first creatures he meets is the resident mermaid we later learn is nicknamed Sally. So far, so Hellboy... A female version of Abe anyone?
Sally has seaweed hair and a beautiful shimmering tail and lives in her own underwater environment - it's unclear the extent of her tank and indeed whether it is a tank or leads to open sea allowing her to come and go as she pleases. The first season offers very little mer content, despite mermaids being a feature of the opening credits:
The only thing we really learn is that merfolk are a peaceful race that live mainly in the Bermuda triangle. Oh and they have some level of telepathy. We learn absolutely nothing of Sally's history or how she came to be living at the sanctuary, something I'm crossing my fingers will be revealed in later seasons.
Other than the first double episode and the flash in the credits, the only other episode to feature mermaids is 1.9 "Requiem" - Sally sadly never makes an appearance, but we hear that she's received a distress call from her people and Helen & Will take a submarine to the Bermuda triangle to check it out.
Despite having hardly any actual mer content Requiem is an excellent episode and really chilling. It's also great to have another example to add to the list of mermaid horror - though here of course merfolk are the victims rather than the attackers. There's so much scope here for fan-fiction and back story - the outbreak from the mermaids POV. Or indeed the impact on the mercommunity. Magnus points out that about 100 died, which for such a small population is catastrophic.
Sanctuary is far from the best show in the supernatural field. However, it is entertaining enough and one of the few to have proper mermaid content. There isn't much in season 1, but I hope to see more in later seasons.
Friday, 27 July 2012
Review: Wild Fish by Reiichi Hiiro (2000)
Yaoi merman romance, the main plot of Wild Fish details the romance between merman prince Kagetsu (seme) and Ayase Kai (uke), a young businessman who inexplicably survives drowning. In fact Ayase is a half-merman, son of an exiled minister to the king. The king and his minister were in love, but Ayase's father left the sea forever when the mer-king married a mermaid in order to have heirs, not willing to share his beloved. Of course Ayase knows none of this and is very disconcerted when Kagetsu comes on to him, and indeed turns up at work as an important client to which he must indulge his every desire. Kagetsu moves in with Ayase and determines to live on land until his shy lover agrees to marry him and return to his undersea kingdom.
One of Kagetsu's five brothers, Sakuya, comes to escort his wayward brother home. When he sees how adamant Kagetsu is so secure Ayase's love, Sakuya decides to stay on land as well and moves into Ayase's apartment building - He literally commandeers Ayase's neighbour, reporter Ryuji Toba's apartment. Clean freak Sakuya takes one look at scruffy Toba, and decides its his personal mission to clean him up - he washes him until he's shiny, shaves him until he's hairless and then moves on to the apartment - the mismatched pair become lovers and I actually found the sub-plot characters more interesting than the Kagetsu/Ayase arc.
When Ayase finally admits his love for Kagetsu, the pair return to the undersea kingdom. Kagetsu's father realises who Ayase is and decides he wants to marry him rather than his son! Ayase and Kagetsu elope and swim off into the ocean.
The scenes of clean freak Sakuya in the bath are also really nice.
Being a single volume, Wild Fish doesn't have the emotional depth or subtlety of longer yaoi romances; it's what I'd call a bit of fluff, but for all that it is great fun. And its a gay merman romance, with tails. Yay! The art work is really nice and clean, especially the cute Ayase. This is more realistic in style rather than BESM (big eyes small mouth), but that suits the story. It's not very chibi either though I have to share my absolute favourite panel of the whole piece which is a side bat illustration of baby Kagetsu and Sakuya - so cute!!!!
Sadly I can only find a hard copy of this manga in German, however there are numerous English translations online. You should be able to read it at the link below:
Wild Fish online
Friday, 20 July 2012
Review: Maid for him... by Tori Carrington. Novella in Blazing Bedtime Stories, volume VI
Mills & Boon 'Blaze' series (their sexier stories) is currently releasing a series of fairy-tale based anthologies called 'Blazing Bedtime Stories' - In volume VI of the US releases (the UK editions seem to be numbered a bit differently) we have 2 stories: Maid for Him... by Tori Carrington, a sexy reworking of The Little Mermaid and Off the Beaten Path by Kate Hoffmann which reworks Hansel and Gretel.
Since it is the mermaid connection I'm interested in, I'm going to ignore the other story, other than to say that for romance fans it's well worth checking out.
Maid For Him tells the story of Daphne Moore, a red-headed mermaid who is about to give up her land legs for good and dedicate herself to the service of the sea in a final ceremony, when she falls in love with human sail enthusiast Kieran Morrison. After saving him from a storm and indulging in one night of wild passion, Daphne begins to rethink her decision of giving up the human world completely. She goes to a sea-witch who tells her that if she can make Kieran marry her within 10 days then she can revoke her decision. There's one problem, Kieran has only just finalised a messy divorce and he has no interest in remarriage, no matter how tempting his mysterious siren may be.
Thoroughly enjoyed this one although it is sadly short so the emotional build-up of the romance is a bit lacking - you just have to take it on faith that our hero and heroine fall madly in love, pretty much on sight and are soul mates.
Big thumbs up from me on the mer content - I love the bit where Daphne falls asleep after saving Kieran and he wakes up on deck, draped with a fully tailed mermaid. I also enjoyed the scene where Kieran's parents arrive (he's not told them he's divorced) and his mother finds Daphne complete with tail in the bathtub. Reminded me a bit of the bathtub scene in 'Splash' but still really fun.
The sex scenes are nothing extraordinary, but perfectly adequate, more romantic than erotic. The one really nice surprise was the full tail sex scene showing Kieran accepting Daphne for who she was. I also liked the rather sweet way that Kieran wanted to become a merman, rather than getting her to change, though of course, as she tells him, that's impossible since mermaids are born, not created.
The ending itself is a little too neat, but unlike the fairytale does have a happy ending for which I was very glad, since I did find myself caring for these characters.
Maid for Him then is a nice, sexy retelling of the little mermaid and didn't disappoint on that score - it did everything I wanted it to - a romance with a fishtailed mermaid. Hurrah. It is a little short and lacks the depth of a full length novel, but it's a fun whimsical read that should delight mermaid and romance enthusiasts.
Monday, 16 July 2012
Review: Mere Temptation (Ocean Shifters 1) by Daisy Harris
After 20 years of living amongst humans, mer-hunters have finally caught up with independent mermaid Ismaelda Freya. She does the only thing she can, returns home to Key Sirena to enlist the help of the ruling sea dragons.
She runs into to her high-school crush Sidon, a were-sea dragon who has never forgotten her, despite becoming the town's playboy billionaire. Sidon wants to pick up their relationship and mark Isa - (have full sex with her) which will force her to become fully mer and stay in the key forever.
Up until this point, by remaining a virgin, Isa has managed to keep her options open - now she must choose whether to give in to Sidon or find a random human to mate with and become fully human.
To make matters worse the mer-hunters aren't just after Isa and have been kidnapping mer children to experiment on. It seems that the ruling dragons may just be in on the racket, having little love for the socially inferior mere....
The story and characters in this novella are really good. Love the spirited heroine and the hunky were dragon whom she's never been able to forget. Other things I give a big thumbs up to: Love the class divide between mermaids and dragons - think that works really well. I also love the mechanics of the shape shifters - Mermaids are the only paranormal species that have a choice - once they have sex they can become fully human or fully mer.
There's also a really interesting sub-plot following the relationship between a succubus and the captain on the mer-hunting ship - this isn't tied up in this volume so I hope we get more on them in the sequels.
The sex scenes, while not the hottest I've come across aren't terrible and made erotic by the fact that we like the characters and are rooting for them to get together.
What lets this down a bit is the writing - lots and lots of grammar mistakes and colloquialisms which I felt detracted from the tone - It's very slangy and our characters use Americanisms that don't seem to fit somehow. Not sure I was too keen on the term mere either. I know its a sort of pun on mer, but for me It didn't sound quite right.
I also wanted more on the genetics - the world created here is unique and really inventive. When Isa finally makes her choice and transforms (and I wont spoiler and say what her final decision is) - it made my head spin a bit and I had to thumb back and go is that possible? - It is, but still comes as a bit of a shock and I guess I just wanted more in this world.
Along with the slang I did find the character archetypes a bit cliched - This does feel like a mills and boon billionaire playboy/headstrong ex story with mermaid myth tacked on - still saying that there's enough mer content to leave me more than satisfied. We have full tails - though they are more seal skin than fish tail. well our mere are mammals so that works.
Over all a pretty good attempt at an erotic mer-romance. I'll definitely hunt down Daisy Harris' other mermaid stories. There's at least two more novellas in this series and two merman slash novellas that look great <evil grin>. Roll on pay day!
Friday, 13 July 2012
I caught up with actress Bai Ling at London film and comic con last weekend and asked her why all information about upcoming mermaid horror film "Hydrophobia" had vanished. She was quite candid in telling me that the project has run out of money - sadly there is not a big market for mer horror - I'm guessing that's why we've not seen a sequel to the wonderful "she creature" either, despite the cover saying it is mermaid chronicles part 1. So there you have it - Hydrophobia seems to have sunk without a trace. A great shame as I think Bai ling would have made a wonderfully exotic siren. I guess those of us wanting exotic mermaids will have to wait with bated breath for the Chinese epic "Empires of the Deep" and hope that doesn't go the same way as hydrophobia. Sigh.
Here's Bai Ling in "The Crow." Ah what could have been....
Theodora Conner is kidnapped by alien mermen who are collecting human females to breed with. Lovers Kyrin and Daeshen have decided they like the look of Theodora and wish to add her to their family unit - The Ta'E'Sha can have up to six lovers in one family unit. Theo finds she likes having two male lovers and by the end of the book finds herself attracted to a female warrior and decides to add her to their menage as well!
- So that's all the bad stuff out of the way. I'm not too keen on erotic menage tales to begin with, preferring the emotional depth and romance of one on one relationships. I don't like complacent heroines - nothing wrong with being submissive, but I think that characters have to be believable and frankly if I was abducted by two alien mermen intent on breeding with me I wouldn't just go with the flow from the outset - I'd make them work for it! The use of multiple apostrophes in sci-fi names is another annoyance. Sorry, really not necessary. It is somewhat insulting to readers, and there are far better ways of creating an alien feel than strings on unpronounceable words. OK, rant over.
Now on to the positives, because despite all that's stacking up against this novel, I did find it surprisingly readable. The main plot (other than Theo's inclusion in this bizarre foursome) tells of a serial rapist Barik, who objects to the Ta'E'Sha mixing human DNA into their bloodline. He rapes several of the kidnapped human women and attacks Theo causing her to miscarry her baby. This darker aspect to the story I found quite exciting. I liked the racial tensions going on, and liked the motivations of the villain. The supporting characters were also well developed, likable and interesting.
I also have to give a big thumbs up to the "mer" content. Our two heroes can shift into proper fish tails (hurrah!) There has also been an attempt to create some interesting merman anatomy - the merman have muscular hair both on their heads and pubic hair, a bit like sea anemones. The fish tail has a slit at the groin to expose genitalia when aroused - the penis itself has frills and tiny barbed spines. We get one underwater sex scene between Daeshen and Theo in which our hero has his fishtail, which I thought was pretty good. All the sex scenes in the novel are reasonably erotic and varied, although we only get one full merman offering.
Also worth mentioning is the mythology - Our alien mermen worship a pantheon of ten gods and goddesses who are working behind the scenes. They haven't spoken to their people in thousands of years, causing some to stop believing. Theo has been chosen as their emissary and she can channel the gods. Thought this bit was fantastic. We've got a whole mythology building up here that I'd like to see more of in subsequent novels.
I found myself enjoying Daughters of Terra far more than I thought I would. It's one of those guilty pleasure type of books that did exactly what I hoped it would from the cover - It's an erotic novel with proper merman content. I would have liked a splash more romance and a feistier heroine, and less apostrophes, but you could do a lot worse. The sex is hot, there's proper mer content and it has a decent enough story.
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Review: The Touch of Sea edited by Steve BermanI was so excited when I saw this book was coming out - An anthology of stories about gay mermen. Being a slash fan and obsessed with merfolk this was pretty much a dream come true. Berman's introduction didn't disappoint either - We have a gay pirate tradition, and sailors have been sighting merMAIDS since they began to traverse the ocean, so why not merMEN? I was also impressed with Alex Jeffers' gorgeous merman cover design. Sadly you should never judge a book by its cover and that is certainly the case here.
I eagerly read all 11 stories and found to my disappointment that not one of them contained a "proper" merman. Yes you read that right, whilst there were plenty of men linked to the sea, they all had two legs. There was not a single story featuring a hunky half man, half fish.
The stories themselves are a mixed bag. Best of the bunch is easily Vincent Kovar's "Wave Boys" - a post apocalyptic tale featuring rival punk gangs who live on rafts/ships. The use of language is fantastic and creates a world dominated by youth culture. Think Waterworld meets A Clockwork Orange. The actual story is a mere snippet and I could quite happily have read a whole novel set in this universe. No tails, but in this one I really didn't care.
I also liked Matthew A. Merendo's romantic tale "The calm tonight" - Mermen come to the shore every so often to find a human woman and mate. Our hero comes to shore but finds himself attracted to a man rather than a woman something unprecedented in merman history. Again no tail - these mermen are fully bipedal, still a rather sweet story.
Others worth mentioning: Keep the Aspidochelone Floating by Chaz Brenchley was quite fun - a period tale about a whale hunter who has quite an adventure. No mermen at all here, just sailors sadly. Jeff Mann's The stone of sacrifice had an interesting concept in which a man calls up the Celtic sea God Shoney. Although I wasn't too keen on the actual story, I liked the mythology used in this one. I'm not sure I got Jonathan Harper's "The bloated woman" - a ponderous murder mystery of sorts that frankly left me bemused. That was my least favourite.
The touch of sea is a nice anthology of speculative gay short-stories, however it is going to disappoint hardcore mer fans. There are no tails or indeed other aquatic attributes (other than I guess the ability to survive under water). Still it is worth reading for the wonderful "Wave Boys."
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
Monday, 2 July 2012
I've been obsessed with mermaids since before I could read, and that fascination has never really died. I collect mermaid books and films and wanted a way to share some of my collection with other enthusiasts. I'm new to blogging so bear with me, but I thought this might be a good way to share some of my thoughts and findings.