With a serial killer on the loose, the baffling mystery of Aiden’s past, and their tenuous budding romance, Aiden and Fouchard tread through a world of magic and myth on padded shoes, terrified to stir up something neither can control or defeat.
Aiden Mercer’s life now centers around lounging on the sunny beaches of his adopted country with a beer in one hand and a coffee in the other while admiring the local male population. After a rough life as a respected detective in DC, playing it cool shouldn’t be too hard, right? With the magical community on his case and dead bodies piling up around town, the responsibility of finding their killer seems fated to fall on him and deny him of his easy living.
Then there is Naël.
Cantankerous merman Naël Fouchard’s life is focused on bringing up and protecting his little sister. When DNA found at the scene of the murders mark him as the prime suspect, Naël seeks out the help of Aiden, whose reputation as a detective grossly belies his lazy lifestyle and apparent lack of ambition.
The chemistry between the strong, stoic Naël and the easygoing Aiden is undeniable, no matter how many walls Aiden builds.
If this unlikely pair can’t come to terms with their feelings for each other long enough to catch the killer, their emotional turmoil might yet allow the murderer to kill them instead.
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal, Murder Mystery
Tropes: Reluctant hero
Keywords/Categories: merman, romantic comedy, mythology, detective, police investigation, murder mystery, shifters, humor
I’m not sure what I am, but I certainly know what I am not. I know I’m not a witch because—well, I’m male. I’m definitely not an elf, since I have no sudden urges to hop onto somebody’s shelf around Christmas. Vampire I am not. My perfectly straight teeth have never once turned into fangs, neither have I ever had a sudden, strange craving for human blood. I’m not a werewolf either. I do have hair on my body but nothing that would qualify me as a wolfman. Besides, I am still pretty much myself during full moons.
But I am not a regular either, because unlike most normal humans, I can see magic beings. By “seeing,” I mean I recognize them as such. Anyone can see them, unless the magicals choose for them not to. I, on the other hand, can always recognize them, unless they purposely hide themselves behind a special magic charm.
I don’t remember not having the ability, so I’m guessing I was born like this. Whatever this is. Good thing that I’m used to it, because seeing magical beings for what they are can be a pretty traumatizing experience, as it was the time I freaked out during a trip to Greece, when I had a close encounter with a minotaur. Nice chap as it turns out but not a pretty sight.
I’ve lived a pretty normal, average life running Bicas R Us, a coffee shop in a small coastal town in sunny Portugal, for the past year or so. After an incident in Northern Virginia that put me on the pages of the local news—don’t ask; it involved a pretty handsome elf and his irate troll boyfriend—I thought it would be better to start again somewhere new. I had visited the tiny nation some years before and fallen in love with its never-ending beaches and kicked-back lifestyle, so I packed my bags, contacted a real estate agent and the immigration office, and got myself a brand-new life.
I had played with the idea of buying a coffee shop on the beach, but I figured it would be a mother to keep the place—and the coffee—free of sand. So, I bought a store nearby in the town square, a short walk from the beach. Portugal is littered with three things: tourists, ancient churches, and coffee shops. Nobody would notice me, the brown haired, blue-eyed American who came to explore the locals’ passion for the hot brew.
The other perk of living here was that magical creatures were not spotted as often. Vampires were virtually nonexistent because of the year-round sunny weather, trolls and ogres were limited to the mountains in the north and, unless you visited the nearby mountain of Sintra that crawled with magical activity, the only thread of magic on the coast was the sporadic water sprite and the beachcombing witches who sold their wares in local shops. All in all, a pretty placid place for someone like me to live in.
I enjoyed today’s cool breeze blowing from the ocean, sitting on a chair in my small esplanade under a red umbrella with a glass of cold beer in my hand. Yes, in this sunny paradise I was allowed to sell and buy alcohol in my coffee shop. Behind my light pinewood counter, the wall shelves were covered in bottles that held more than coffee flavorings. What a great nation this was.
While Cristina, my only employee, was busy serving the few customers who loitered inside the café, I could enjoy the local fauna as they hurried from shop to shop or headed out to the beach. Summer hadn’t quite arrived yet, but the sun had warmed the air enough for the locals to shed their wintry clothes and don more relaxed apparel. From behind my shades, I followed the trek of three young men, all shirtless and in swimming trunks. Hot. Not the weather, the guys—tanned, lean and muscular, shorts low enough on their hips to reveal that sexy vee—
“Olha para ti, a salivar como um cão por um bife.” Cristina had sneaked up from behind and interrupted my yummy thoughts.
“Speak English, woman,” I told her, sliding my glasses down my nose to look at her over the rim. “You’d think you’re Portuguese, or something.”
She slapped me mercilessly across the back of my head and plopped herself on the chair next to mine. “Idiota.” Without so much as a may I, my small Portuguese friend and employee grabbed the glass from my hand and took a long swig of my beer. “Are you going to sit here all afternoon watching the hot guys walking by?”
“And what’s wrong with that?” Cristina spoke flawless English but enjoyed confusing me with spurts of Portuguese once in a while. She pulled up another chair and placed her feet on the seat, her legs crossed at the knees. “What exactly did you call me just now?”
“A dog salivating over a steak.” She took another swig before I could retrieve my beer. “Don’t you have more important things to do with your life, Aiden?”
I wiped her foam mustache with a finger. “Not really. Why do you think I moved here from Virginia?” She blinked her eyes at me, pretending not to know what I was talking about. “Easy living, sunshine, and hot, half-naked guys.”
Cristina laughed, her face turned to the sun. She had skin the same color as the cork in a wine bottle, a honeyed brown made darker since the early spring weather replaced the cool air of winter. “You’re something, Aiden. You have no other dream or ambition? Just basking in the sun and ogling sexy men?”
Not quite correct but part of the truth. “Are you jealous?”
The skin crinkled around her green eyes as she turned her gaze to me. “Only if you flirt with guys I have my eyes on.” She spotted a couple of newly arrived customers and hopped to her feet. “Customers. Unlike you, I have some interest in making a buck here and there. I enjoy having a roof over my head.”
As she walked away, I yelled, “No need. You can always sleep on the beach.”
In my effort to go out of my comfort zone- both new to me authors and/or tropes, I dove into (hahaha, I kill me) this book that had “magicals” and a merman (merrow) shifter. Because why not.
So. Much. Potential. But it just fell flat.
First, Aiden quit his job as a detective in Washington DC and moved to Portugal to open a coffee shop. Ok. How it stays running and making money when he only has one employee and he shows up sometimes is a mystery.
He also has some sort of magical power. He can see magicals, even when they are disguised as humans. He thinks that is all he is though. More than one magical laughs him off though because they think he is just denying what he is. What is he? We never find out. Come on.
Next is Naël. the Canadian American who lives in Portugal. He is, apparently, independently wealthy and raising his preteen sister. And he is a merrow- a merman shifter. He claims to be socially awkward, but really he is just kind of a jerk. To Aiden. And Aiden just puts up with it.
I did like the sister and Aiden’s best friend/only employee though.
Honestly, the plot was good. There was a murderer of magicals running around and Aiden the former detective is tasked with solving the crimes. He really isn’t very good as a detective though. But the story line following Naël and Aiden was decent, the murderer and reason well thought out.
A few more details that affect my rating. Contractions. USE THEM. It is awkward when characters don’t use them. That isn’t how people talk.
And the last name thing. Like WHY do they always have men calling each other by their last names? Ugh. It is so dumb. Is it a macho posturing thing? Sometimes it is appropriate- cops, sports guys, etc. But just guys? Nah. I have a lot of male friends and I can honestly say they never use last names.
I really wanted to like this book. I wanted more merrow shifting. I wanted to know what Aiden is. But too much took me right out of the story.
2.5 pieces of eye candy
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Natalina wrote her first romance at the age of 13 in collaboration with her best friend. Since then she has ventured into other genres, but romance is first and foremost in almost everything she writes. She’s the author of We Will Always Have the Closet, Desert Jewel, Loved You Always, and Lavender Fields.
After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lived in three continents and a few islands, and her knack for languages and linguistics led her to a master’s degree in education. She lives in Virginia where she’s taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.
Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.
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