Friday, December 21, 2018

3.5 Wine Glass #Review of Siren's Storm by Asa Maria Bradley


42398018Title: Siren’s Storm
Series: The Sea King’s Daughters #6
Author: Asa Maria Bradley
Format: Kindle Edition, 67 pages
Published:  November 27th 2018 by Kaering LLC
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Reviewer: Linda
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Wine Glasses

A wolf shifter bent on exposing her secrets, an ex-lover who betrayed her, and a sister asking for an impossible favor, are just some of the things threatening mermaid Theia Ayer’s new covert life.

The Sea King sent her and her sisters to earth to prepare for the return of the merfolk. They must do so without other paranormal creatures finding out who they really are, or they will once again be hunted for their ability to create portals between the realms. Theia is doing a pretty good job of staying under the radar, until a wolf shifter comes sniffing around at her human workplace. He won’t rest until he ferrets out who and what she really is.

As if that wasn't enough, an old lover arrives wanting to rekindle his and Theia's relationship. Her heart wants to believe he's sincere but her mind remembers how he once betrayed her. And his timing couldn't be worse, because she can’t deal with him or the wolf shifter while also helping one of her sisters hide a powerful magical weapon.

As strange accidents occur at suspiciously frequent intervals, Theia doesn't know whom she can trust. Especially not when there may be several assailants hunting for the weapon and at least one of them is willing to kill her to get to it. Now, Theia is in the fight of her life as she races to stop the powerful weapon from ending up in the hands of the wrong people. Her failure could mean the end of not just her people, but the start of a massive war that would threaten all creatures that make earth their home.

Linda's Thoughts:
“Maybe we’re dealing with an immaculate hatching,” Clara said. “If that’s the case, we have a ton of messiah fish to deal with.”

I love Asa Maria Bradley’s Viking Warriors series, so when I saw that she had a new offering on Kindle Unlimited, I had to pick it up. Siren’s Storm is a stand alone novella in a new urban fantasy set of six novellas by six different authors in a shared universe. I have not read any of the other releases in this series, but don’t feel that it’s necessary to fully enjoy this entry. Siren’s Storm is set on earth which is populated not only by humans, but by monsters.

We learn much about the history of the Merfolk. The Merfolk made the choice to leave the earth realm centuries ago. At that time, other paranormals hunted the Merfolk and kept them in captivity to use them to travel between watery portals. The Sea King’s decision to leave was not a popular one. However, things have not gone well in the dimension they’d escaped to, so, now, six mermaids, daughters of the Sea King, have returned to prepare earth for the return of their kind. Siren’s Storm introduces us to the earth realm through our heroine’s eyes and gives readers a hint of what is to come.

As the story opens, we meet Theia Ayer, our mermaid heroine, who is in the physically-demanding process of illegally harvesting aquamarine in the Sawtooth Mountains in central Idaho. She requires the aquamarine in a quest to fulfill a promise to one of her sisters. On her way home, she stops, washes off and plays in a secluded mountain lake where she is discovered by a wolf shifter. Because one of her sisters was previously hunted down and brutally killed by a wolf shifter pack, Theia does not give this wolf shifter a warm welcome. We learn that the wolf shifter is also on a quest.

Our heroine works as a consultant at the Sandpoint Fish Hatchery in the small community of Sagle. She was offered the position after the Hatchery’s resident scientist noticed how good she was with fish when she initially volunteered there. On her return to work after her exciting evening gathering the aquamarine and meeting the wolf shifter, she discovers that there are new fish at the Hatchery and that, strangely, she cannot communicate with them.

This novella is only sixty seven pages long, but there’s a lot packed within them. Not only are we introduced to Theia, her co-workers and the wolf shifter, but we also meet her traitorous ex and witness Theia’s fight for her life with suspense and danger galore. There’s no romance in Siren’s Storm, but I’d like to think there will be some sparks between Theia and the wolf shifter in future installments.

This story is well-written and I am intrigued by the characters and the plotline. While there is some closure herein, everything does not wrap up cleanly. The ending nicely sets up a sequel-to-come. I look forward to where Asa takes Theia’s story next.

Following please find an excerpt from Siren’s Song which chronicles our heroine’s first encounter with the wolf shifter:

Giddy and naked, I launched myself into the water and lost my breath in the initial shock of sun-warmed skin meets snow-melt water. A beat or two later though, I swum deeper and twirled in a slow corkscrew twist while gripping the small aquamarine stone pendant hanging around my neck. I reached for my magic within and as my legs stretched and fused together, I closed my eyes and savored the sweet sensation of hard inch-long fins popping out along my spine as my feet transformed into a tail fin much smaller, but shaped similarly, to what whales use to propel through the water.

Two razor thin slits on both sides of my neck opened and I no longer had to hold my breath because the gills now filtered oxygen out of the water to fill my lungs. I played for a couple of hours, exploring the depths of the lake while playing tag with small fish and some frogs. I felt extra invigorated as I plunged and summersaulted in the water. Not seeing any other hikers for the two days I’d been in the wilderness, made me careless.

And that is why I didn’t notice the man, or his horse, until I was almost back ashore and popped my head above water.

The appaloosa had a beautiful dappled palomino coat that I got caught up in admiring, so a few heartbeats passed before I noticed the smirk on the rider’s lips. He obviously thought my bare shoulders meant he’d caught me skinny dipping. The fog left my mind and I was instantly sober.

“Howdy,” he touched his western hat in greeting, his blue eyes shining with mirth.

Luckily I’d already changed into my bi-pod shape before I hit the shallow waters closer to shore and it didn’t take but a smidgen of magic to twist some underwater weeds into what would pass for a strap-less swimsuit. I had a bit of a smirk myself as I stood up in the water that was still waist deep.

“Hi,” I answered and shielded my eyes. Not so much because of the sun glare, but because they are a turquoise color not often found in humans.

The horse snorted as if he was in on the joke and shook his head. Fool, it thought my way.

Your rider or me? I shot back, but it just snorted again. Perhaps it was as much of a jerk as its rider. I studied them both as I stayed in the water. Even though I was pretty sure I would win if I had to fight the man, I wasn’t so sure about the horse.

 “Enjoying your swim?” the man on the horse asked.

“It’s a little chilly, but it did the trick.” The horse bucked its head again but didn’t snort this time. It still irritated me. What’s your problem? I projected.

It pulled up its lips, revealing yellow teeth as it grinned at me. But then a puff of wind carried the rider’s scent my way and I immediately lost interest in the cheeky animal.

The rider was no ordinary human, he was a shifter. Wolf, if I interpreted the nuances of his smell correctly. I automatically took a few steps back and sank down to my neck in the water. I’ve never minded regular wolves, but shifters are another matter.

One of my sisters was hunted down and brutally killed by a wolf shifter pack.

The man frowned as I slowly glided back in the water to lengthen the distance between us. He leaned forward in the saddle and I caught the exact moment he figured out I wasn’t an ordinary human either. His nostrils flared and he inhaled deeply, sitting up straighter on the back of the horse as all his muscles tensed.

“What are you?” he asked, his blue eyes intense as they studied me.

“I want no trouble,” I replied, keeping my eyes on him and preparing to shoot down into the depths of the lake if he decided to attack. Hopefully he’d peg me for a water sprite. The Merfolk left the earth realm centuries ago, so there was no reason he’d guess what I truly am. He didn’t look old enough to remember the exodus of my people.

“You’ll have not trouble if you just tell me what you are?”

There was no way I’d give that up. My sisters and I had returned in secret to prepare earth for the return of the Merfolk, but we did not want a repeat of what had happened before my father took all his people off this realm. Back then, other paranormals hunted my kind, forcing them to open portals so their captors could travel between bodies of water here on earth, and to other realms. “Why do you need to know?” I asked the man.

He shook his head. “If you want no trouble with me or mine, tell me who and what you are.”

I did not need this shit. I had enough trouble as it was with my sister’s request of an impossible favor. I have no quarrel with your rider, I told the horse. Just piss off with him, will you?

Of course the stupid animal just snorted again.

I sighed. The least this particular member of the equine species could do was prove that horses are as noble as they are rumored. “Be on your way, please,” I told the man instead since his animal was not cooperating.

“I’ll leave as soon as you tell me what you are.” This time the words came out in a growl.

I raised my eyebrows. “Why are you so curious?”

“Why are you so secretive?”

“Don’t turn this around on me. Insisting on such personal details is rude.” The paranormals that can pass for human live in open hiding among the low-ability hominins and most of us recognize each other, but it’s considered very boorish to ask outright what ability someone may have—or if they have any.

The man sighed. “I have my reasons.”

He’s looking for a water creature that has been drowning humans and paranormals, the horse all of a sudden projected my way.

“I’ve never drowned anyone in my life,” I blurted out before I realized how out of the blue that would appear to the rider.

“You can read thoughts? Get out of my head,” he growled. 

“No, I—” I wasn’t sure what explanation I could offer, but before I had to think of one, the horse turned one-eighty and trotted off at a fast clip up the trail I’d just come down. I guess the gelding didn’t want to be busted for blabbing about its rider’s business to strangers. Maybe it wasn’t as dumb as I had first thought.

The man’s loud commands and swearing faded away as the horse steadily climbed up the switchbacks of the trail. As soon as they were out of sight, I rushed out of the water and quickly dressed. I shouldered my pack and almost ran to the trail. If I was lucky, I’d be well on my way to my truck before the man regained control of the horse and turned around.

Suggested Reading Order:
This is a stand-alone novella in the exciting urban fantasy series, The Sea King's Daughters, in which six amazing authors write in a shared universe filled with monsters and other dangers that threaten the Merfolk sisters.

Siren’s Tide by Philipa Balentine
Siren’s Serenity by Stacia D. Kelly
Siren’s Curse by Katee Robert
Siren’s Calling by Piper J. Drake
Siren’s Surge by Lauren Harris
Siren’s Storm by Asa Maria Bradley

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