I received a copy of Tamsin Ley‘s The Merman’s Kiss from Netgalley.
Description from Goodreads:
Even Monsters Need a Mate
After the death of her child, Brianna seeks to end her life within the ocean’s final embrace. Instead, she falls into the arms of a sexy, sleek-tailed monster. He’s wild, seductive, and sets her blood on fire every time he touches her, and soon she begins to need him for more than his magic to breathe underwater. He might just give her a new reason to live.
Zantu has evaded the mate-bond for thirty-five years, dodging promiscuous mermaids with vile intents. Unlike mermaids, mermen bond for life, and Zantu refuses to accept the heartbreak most mermen die of. That is, until the glint of gold catches his eye, and a simple salvage mission turns to passion. Now he’s bonded to a human, and begins to wonder if bonding to the right mate might not be so bad. The problem? A finless female won’t live long among the dangers of the sea.
Now Zantu must choose between keeping her at his side, and keeping her safe. Either way, he’s sure he’ll end up with a broken heart.
Wow, that was…um, um, um…not good. By the end of chapter one I had highlighted half a dozen passages and written ragey notes in my Kindle; most centering on the fact that the female main character was literally passing out from drowning, a merman came up and grabbed her arm, she bloomed into instant lust (while still drowning), and turned around to jumped on his cock. Which she could do because she was of course naked. Women always seem to end up naked before meeting their mate in this sort of book. I’m talking like literally five seconds start to finish, without even looking at him, while dying! Um, um, um…no! That’s a big fat NOPE for me.
And while the rest of the book wasn’t as bad as the start, it wasn’t great either. The two basically just wandered around in a pseudo plot that allowed them to have abbreviated sex in different places and left more questions than answers. Ok fine, it’s erotica. I shouldn’t expect much more. But I couldn’t stand the representation of the female mermaids. So, I had a hard time even tolerating the rest of the plot and world-building.
I admit I liked the idea as males as caretakers and how they nested and desired children. I thought Zantu really cute. But the characterization of all females except the main character as noting but aggressive sex maniacs just smacks of the good old patriarchal ‘women are nothing more than slave to their lust and have no use or character beyond their sex and their ability to bear children.’ Here they’re even stripped of any maternity, making them failures even in the minimal worthiness western society allows women. Maybe, MAYBE the author was trying to flip that script and engage the stereotype, but I rather think not. It just made me angry.
The mechanical writing is fine. The editing is fine. The book will probably appeal to some, but I was not one of them. On Goodreads, where I use star ratings, I gave this 2 stars (1.5 rounded up), that based on the fact that it is structurally adequate, and I feel I’m being generous.