Monday, April 28, 2008

Sleeping with the Fishes by Mary Janice Davidson

Fred is a mermaid. But stop right there. Whatever image you're thinking of right now, forget it. Fred is not blonde. She's not buxom. And she's definitely not perky. In fact, Fred can be downright cranky. And it doesn't help that her hair is ocean coloured.

Being a mermaid does help Fred when she works at the New England Aquarium. But, needless to say, it's there that she gets involved in something fishy. Weird levels of tozins have been found in the local water. A gorgeous marine biologist wants her help investigating. So does her mer-person ruler, the High Prince of the Black Sea. You'd think it would be easy for a mermaid to get to the bottom of things. Think again...
This book is labelled as paranormal romance which did make me wonder are mermaids paranormal, but maybe that is too big a question to be asking this early in a post.

The only reason why I picked this book up, is that Mary Janice Davidson is one of the big name authors who have been confirmed as coming to the first Australian Romance Readers Convention next year, and I hadn't really read much from her, so I wanted to give her a go and see what I thought. Before this, I had only read a short story in an anthology that was part of her popular Betsy the Vampire series.

So, enough about the why of this book and onto what I thought of it. Unfortunately, I was pretty underwhelmed by it - really starting from the dedication and the going all the way through the acknowledgements.

The premise is potentially fun - a half mermaid works at the New England Aquarium (cue conversations with the fish, especially when the fish decide that they only want to listen to Pet Shop Boys music) and basically her work is her life. She hasn't been on a date for years, despite the best efforts of her best friend who is the only person in the world outside of her family who knows what she is. Then, not one, but two handsome men show up, both trying to get to the bottom of some toxic water. One is Thomas who is hunky marine biologist who has always known that mermaids were real, and the other is Artur, the High Prince of the Black Sea who has been sent by his king to investigate with Fred's assistance.

There are genuine funny moments, which I would tell you, but you know then you would only be left with all the not so funny bits.

During the course of the investigation, you of course discover who the bad guy is who is polluting the ocean, and in this case, the bad guy was in effect a cartoon character villain. His motivation was flimsy at best, and the showdown felt contrived and somewhat silly.

Like so many other current romance novels, particularly in the urban/paranormal romance subgenre there is little resolution in the love triangle, and I guess I will probably read the next book in due course just to see what happens. I have no idea how many books there are planned for the series, but I presume that we will get the HEA over the whole arc of the series.

I won't lose any sleep if I don't read the next book all that soon though.


  1. I can't thank you enough for this review! I've been on the fence deciding if I wanted to add this to my TBR pile...guess my decision is!

  2. I have avoided this series just because most of what I have heard is not wonderful.
    I very much like her Wyndham Werewolf series but those mostly come in anthologies (except for a full length novel called Derik's Bane). I also have read her Betsy series but they are mostly fluff pieces for me since they are nice and short. I think she is a good writer but she choses to write things that just are not appealing to me. She reminds me a bit of Katie MacAlister.

  3. You know, I would recommend reading at least the first Betsy book. I think it was Undead and Unwed - I had a great laugh through that one. After that it's like reading an Evanovich, you already know the punchlines and you've read the story before. Ugh.

    Although I have stopped reading any of her other series I still read Betsy. I think the next one is hardcover but I plan to wait until the paper back. I get upset when I pay full price for her paper backs when there are only 280 pages and more white space than words. I couldn't imagine paying for a hardcover!

  4. I agree with Cindy. I've read the Undead series...well, 4 of them, and that about captures all her stories. Don't get me wrong, they are fun, but I feel like I keep getting the same thing in every book. The first Undead book is still my favorite.

  5. I've only read the first Undead book of hers and I really enjoyed it - I'm looking forward to the others, but now I think I'll be disappointed... Ah well, so may other books in the world!

    This mermaid one doesn't appeal to me, thanks for the review!!

  6. I loveed reading the blurb of this story, it definitely sounds fun. I am reading Undead and Unwed by her soon and will see if I like that before giving this a chance as I have so much other reading at the moment.

  7. I was not crazy about this book at all. I read it but will not read any of the others. She has become a library read for me.