Thursday, April 9, 2015
Selkie's Revenge by Rosanna Leo
On the beaches of Orkney, Scotland, an evil entity stalks mortal women. Machar “Mack” Kirk is a selkie man with a haunted past, one that has prompted him to become a hunter. He prowls the beaches at night, his arrows aiming for the finman who took his first love.
Beth Pedersen also watches the sea. The haunted widow has suffered losses of her own, ones that have crippled her into a state of stony grief. Beth can no longer feel, can no longer see color and life. Until the day Mack Kirk saves her from a mysterious foe, flooding her world with brightness and foreign temptation.
As Mack and Beth fight their inundating passion, the finman escalates his attacks. Before long, Mack realizes he’s not just playing Good Samaritan. He wants Beth, too, and will do anything to ensure his lover isn’t taken by the finman. But can he protect his mate from a monster with no soul?
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Warning: This review contains possible mild spoilers, though I have endeavored to keep my comments with the realm of outcomes that can be reasonably expected given the genre.
This second installment in the Orkney Selkies series has many of Rosanna Leo's signature elements. There's a strong heroine who isn't terribly inclined to sit back and wait to be rescued or to let someone else fight her battles, but who also has issues. Also included is a gorgeous, alpha hero who's loving and protective, but isn't an ass about it--at least for the most part. Their story is told with a good deal of sexual tension that leads to some steamy sexy times, but also with a large dose humor that will often have you laughing out loud. There's a bad guy to fight, and he gives rise to some worrying moments, but ultimately is handled with moderate ease and the happy couple swim off into the sunset at the end. All in all a rather satisfying book.
Beth is mourning the deaths of her husband and son who died in a boating accident about a year previously. She has been living a rather ghostlike existence since then, simply going through the motions of daily life while remaining dead and unfeeling to everything around her. This sort of deep-seated grief and despair is likely familiar to anyone who has lost a loved one, though perhaps not the extreme state of it that Beth is living in. Once she starts to come out of her mourning fog, however, we discover that she is actually a very strong and vivacious young woman with a healthy, if still largely repressed, sense of fun and a reasonably large adventurous streak. As her resolve to leave her period of mourning behind and rejoin the living increases and solidifies, we get to see more and more of the vibrant woman who has remained hidden by the widow's grief.
Machar, better known as Mack, is an equally tortured soul who has spent most of the last 100+ years mourning his lost love and fruitlessly hunting her murderer. His has not been an unrelieved period of mourning, however, for he has had lovers in the interim and has taken time out to pursue other interests, one of which has left him with a rather impressive collection of rock band t-shirts apparently. He understands Beth's pain and respects it at the same time he seeks to start drawing her out of it, admittedly for his own selfish reasons since he recognizes Beth is his mate fairly early on. Still, he takes things slow, recognizing her need to ease back into life, and never forces the issue, instead only imposing his presence on her to protect her from the finman that's stalking her and lets her take what time she needs to find her own way to him. In this respect he gets high marks as a sensitive alpha hero.
I enjoyed Beth and Mack's story, and like most of Leo's books I found it to be a fairly quick read. Despite being a fairly slow reader, generally speaking, there's something about her writing style that always flows really well for me and makes reading faster. This is a good thing. On the down side, I felt that there was a general lack of real tension or suspense regarding the finman and his actions. That's not to say that he didn't have flashes of scariness, or that there weren't moments where the heart jumped into the throat a bit, but overall this isn't one of Leo's better villains. Most of how the story surrounding him plays out is fairly predictable (albeit with a couple surprises along the way), and for all the buildup about him and how Mack has been hunting him for over 100 years, when the final resolution comes it happens a bit too easily in my opinion and seems rather anti-climactic in many ways. Mack defeating his nemesis at long last happens almost as a sidenote to more dramatic things that are happening in the scene.
Another quibble I had is that I felt there were a few things left unresolved that probably shouldn't have been (unless of course the author intends to bring them up again in later books in the series.) While it's difficult to say much without getting too spoilery, the main dangling thread I noticed regards whether or not one of the characters introduced here is really what he claims to be or if he is perhaps something more. An answer to the question is somewhat implied at one point, but no definitive answer is ever given. It's a minor point certainly, and not one that has any great impact on the main story, but it's a niggling point nonetheless.
Despite my criticisms, I still truly enjoyed reading this one and would definitely recommend it. Those interested in paranormal romance, shapeshifter and/or mythology related sorts in particular, will definitely enjoy this though fans of contemporaries may find stuff to like here as well. There is plenty of steam here, so be prepared to fan yourself a few times. 4 stars to a solid read.