Monday, 13 August 2012
Review: Jamie's Merman by Daisy Harris
Book Review: Jamie's Merman by Daisy Harris (2012)
Urban Mermen book 1
After Daisy Harris' rather good mermaid/were-seadragon romance "Mere Temptation" I had high hopes for her urban mermen series - erotic merman slash. Hunky mermen, red hot slash, where's the bad? Sadly I was rather disappointed with Jamie's Merman.
Marin is the only gay merman (selkie) in his pod. He's mated to mermaid Sally, but can't perform so he travels to the human realm to find a lover more to his taste. As soon as he meets slutty young barman Jamie he knows he's lucked out. He takes Jamie home, but Sally thinks it's for a threesome. Jamie leaves and goes back home. Marin talks to Sally and realises that she doesn't particularly want him either so they both travel to the human world. Marin convinces Jamie that he wants a one on one exclusive relationship and Sally hooks up with Dave, Jamie's only straight flatmate.
Talk about moving fast! Dave and Sally are in bed within minutes of making eye contact. I know this is only a 73 page novella, but really! Our main lovers aren't much better, making love on first meeting and they declare their love for each other after what? a day? two? not long anyway. When Marin first boards Jamie's boat, Jamie thinks he's in costume, and by the next chapter he's fully accepted the existence of mermen. It's all too fast. Real people don't react like that.
Other niggles: The misuse of the term selkie. Marin is a merman complete with fish tail. Selkie - seal shapeshifter. OK we do get the tail becoming a kind of skin, and our merfok do live in pods, but I felt that merman would have been perfectly adequate - they aren't selkies as they are in folklore.
The writing itself isn't great. Very heavy on the use of christian names. I know it's hard in the m/m genre to differentiate between lovers. In a straight romance you can use he and she, but in the m/m genre he and he can become confusing, however using three christian names in one sentence is excessive. Here's a sentence I've just spotted flicking through at random: "Jamie tried to clench around him, every fibre of Jamie fought the way Marin held him open." - very name heavy which is clumsy and sadly detracts from the eroticism of the scene.
The mechanics of the tail are a bit weird, inconsistent or not developed enough. It splits to reveal legs, but stays connected at the waist to look a bit like a sari in some scenes and a thong in others - I think it can also move I'm presuming a bit like a monkey's prehensile tail - never quite clear how that works. Also in one scene we get a split for the penis - great for underwater sex scenes - though never used as we then move into the tail splitting to become cloth like leading to human form sex.
Characters are so so. Marin is a perfectly respectable hero for this type of story. I like how he's totally clueless to Sally thinking he was going to find a lover for them both to share. He's hunky and I like the chameleon change hair and skin. I wasn't so keen on Jamie. He's a bossy little thing, bit too dominant for a bottom. As he describes himself in the next volume he's "complicated" and they switch roles - which is fine but if that's the route its going much more character development is needed. This is a weird one - for the story as it stands it would work better if Jamie was less complicated, yet I think he's rather interesting and would suit a longer story.
Things I did like. It's a novel about gay mermen, with proper fish tails. Check. It's reasonably erotic to boot, although there does seem to be a far too high percentage of sex to story - things move way to fast. I like the fact that the selkies can only stay out of water for a very short time and get landsick. It's a nice lite romance with a happy ending, even if that ending is a bit too convenient.
To conclude, I love the fact that Jamie's Merman exists, hurrah for merman slash! It's also fairly hot, but let down by the characters, writing style and plot. The cover is a bit of an eyebrow raiser too, talk about blatant and certainly didn't fit my picture of the characters.
Available in hard-copy with its sequel "Hiro's Merman" published under the title "Urban Mermen"