Sunday, March 10, 2013

An Elemental Tail by Shona Husk

Four hundred years ago, Nik was tricked by his lover and left stranded as a powerless, but immortal, human. Now he craves only one thing: to reclaim the book that was once his tail and become a water Elemental again. Unfortunately, he can only locate the book when someone touches the pages. This time he won't be left high and dry. 

Isla is left a beautiful leather-bound book in her great-aunt's will, perfect for using during her life drawing classes. However, she can't bring herself to mark the translucent pages until a compelling crimson-haired stranger strips for art.

Nik is torn. Years of enforced humanity have given him a conscience. Despite his best efforts at remaining a heartless water Elemental, he is failing. He is falling for Isla, who has no idea she holds the power of the oceans, and his heart, in her hands.

Where to Buy

A delightful tale of a water elemental and a human woman who find more than they'd set out to find. He was only looking to regain his full identity, and she was only looking for an experience to satisfy her curiosity and her desire, but love creeps up on them even though they both have other things they need to do, other wants and desires to fulfill.

Isla is an art student with a troubled past. The eldest of several siblings by different fathers, her single mother was never a nurturing presence in her life, rather, a grasping, selfish person to be avoided and escaped. Isla's one solace was a great aunt whom she'd lived with for a few years when she was a child, until her mother reclaimed her. The aunt had continued to care for her as best she could, including providing the airfare that she needed to travel to the college where she'd been granted a scholarship, which was the ticket to escaping her mother's control and avarice and to being able to realize her dreams of a better life and one of her own choosing. The leatherbound book that she later inherits from her aunt proves to be her ticket to even more. Isla is an admirable character because she takes nothing for granted and is willing to work hard for what she wants in life.

Nik is a water elemental who has been trapped in human form for over 400 years after being betrayed by a human lover. He has spent the centuries trying to track the book that was his tail and which is his only way to reclaim his former and full identity. He comes to Isla's college because he has sensed that the book has ended up there, and in due time he learns that it is in Isla's possession, the unique leatherbound book that her aunt had bequeathed her. While he initially intends only to get his hands on the book and leave, he inadvertently learns more about Isla than he'd intended to, and the conscience that he'd developed during his time as a human won't let him simply abandon her to a likely cruel fate by taking what is his and leaving. And so he stays and gets to know her a bit, and once he has, he finds himself reluctant to leave.

This story isn't long, but it's rich in emotion and imagery. Isla's desperation at the situation she finds herself in with an unscrupulous teacher is palpable, as is her fascination with Nik, and his with her. It's an attraction that seems doomed to failure, and yet you can't help hoping that they'll find a way around the forces that seem to be aligned against them. Not many stories of this length manage to evoke such depth of emotion.

I'd definitely recommend this to anyone fond of shapeshifter stories, or of paranormal romance stories in general. Though for reasons I can't quite put my finger on, this doesn't feel like quite a 5 star story to me, it's certainly a 4½ star story at the least. If stories of this sort are at all your kind of thing, do yourself a favor and take an hour or two to read this one.

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