Liquid Silver Books, $4.50, ISBN 1-59578-157-9
Contemporary Paranormal Romance, 2005
I’m sorry, I think I need to spend more time meditating or getting close to Mother Nature a little bit more because I must be a really insensitive harpy. You see, when I realize that our heroine Marian Wines is falling in love with a shapeshifting fellow who can turn into a thirty-foot Orca whale, I can’t stop giggling. Our hero is Chief Tamanass Tyee who prefers to be called “Chief” or “Big Tom” (snicker – thirty foot, people!) when he isn’t being Ghost Father the Orca whale. Between Chief and Ghost Father, he comes off like a huge hunk of cheese made from Cassie Edwards‘s special recipe. Fortunately, he’s more eloquent than Cassie Edwards’s heroes. And then I imagine wacky scenarios like the hero jumping into the air and then turning into an Orca whale to smash the villain into pancakes and I start giggling all over again.
I apologize to the author and to readers who must be right now poised to write angry emails scolding me for my insensitivity. Just like how some readers scoff at the idea of werewolves being sexy romance hero fodder, I now realize that there are some fantasies in the genre that I find more hilarious than romantic. I find myself in hysterics whenever some woman in this story tells Marian of offering salmons to the great Ghost Father and the Orca then turning into a man to impregnate her even if she’s already married to someone else. But I am sure there are many others for whom this is a viable romantic fantasy, with or without the salmon.
Marian is a familiar “been dumped, now looking” heroine, although this being a spicy story means that she’s more prone to fantasizing about explicit sex with handsome dream lovers than a typical been-dumped heroine. She takes a break by going on a cruise to see the whales and one thing leads to another with her meeting Chief whom she is attracted to. But Chief has a secret: he’s the big Orca whale that Marian saw on her cruise and he knew right away that she is his soulmate. Yes, the word “soulmate” is here, along with “destiny” and “seed” so you can pretty much imagine that the story is heavily centered around the heroine’s erogenous zones and her ability to pop out brats for our hero like many other spicy romantic erotica tales out there if you have read enough of those. I pause to check whether male whales have any, er, distinctive physical features when they, er, meet their soul mate but luckily I recover my senses in time to realize that I really don’t want to know the answer. If I know the answer, I’d probably really bust a rib because I’m already laughing so hard at everything else about the story, from the moment Ghost Father decides that Marian is his soul-mate.
The premise aside, Marian is actually a pretty decent character in the sense that while she may have a typical past where she was hurt by some bloke, she isn’t some neurotic dimwit who has to wait until the hero spells out his secrets to her. She has some wit, a healthy sex drive, and she is rational enough to know that one soured affair doesn’t mean the end of her social life. Unfortunately, Chief is a very stereotypical hybrid of a PC-version of the Native American hero (lots of talks about nature, destiny, dreams, et cetera, in the corniest and most stilted manner possible) and a comparatively tame rendition of the Fantasy Uber-Stud (he’s the most virile, the most energetic, the most handsome, the most… oh, just the most, really). It is bad enough for me that he bloats up into a whale when the mood strikes him but he also has to be corny and cheesy while he’s doing his “Shaman Sex Guru” shtick.
But all in all, my gauche inability to stop giggling at the premise of the story (please, don’t bring up the salmon to my face, I beg you) aside, I find The Orca King a readable if unremarkable romantic paranormal fantasy story that doesn’t really break new grounds, apart from that thirty-foot Orca thingie. In a way, I’m glad that it’s a thirty-foot Orca whale and not another werewolf or vampire because I will remember this story for a while because of the Orca whale aspect of the story. Free Willy will never be the same again, I tell you. Come to think of it, with this story’s preoccupation with the Willy in question impregnating happy women deliriously pleased to receive… um, never mind. If you’ll excuse me, I have to grab a pillow to stifle another bout of hysterical laughter that is bubbling inside me.