by Tiffany Aaron, fantasy (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 1-59578-334-2
Troubled Waters, the latest installment of the Terran Realm series, features a Keeper whose power comes from the domain of water. Well, we've had fire and spirit, so now is as good a time as any for water. Taking place in the island of Tortola of the British Virgin Islands, it all begins when our hero Brian Rasmussen decides to head over to a happening club to look for sex. He's too cheap to pay for it, if that's what you are thinking, and besides, our heroine Iman is willing to give it away for free anyway. They have sex within the first ten pages of the story, which does away with the compulsory sex scene and we can now move on with the plot. Right?
Iman is a shifter (she can change in various forms of animals) from Clan Najwa. Clan Najwa, which is one of the nine clans of shifters out there, are allies of the Keepers of the Environment (KOTE) when it comes to giving polluters the smackdown. Iman and her brother believe that Brian is a Terran, or at least, half-Terran. By the way, if all these words are confusing you, feel free to check out the review of the first book in the series, Keira Ramsay's Redemption, for a refresher course on what is what. Back to the story, Iman will soon lead Brian down a path of self-discovery as he learns about his Terran powers and his past as well as his fear of water.
The thing about Troubled Waters is that it is about 97% exposition, 2% tepid love scenes, and 1% action. For an urban fantasy story, this one is surprisingly placid. The plotting is very linear - for the most part the characters are talking (with someone explaining to Brian about himself, the Terrans, or Iman's people). Towards the end, the author has new characters show up like bowling pins in an alley to continue the exposition. Short of Brian realizing his powers, nothing really happens in this story. In fact, by the time the story ends, it seems as if Troubled Waters is building up some kind of storyarc that will only resume in another book. Since this book is clearly part of a series, I have no problems therefore with the storyarc being built but not resolved in this book, provided of course that it will be resumed in some future books where Brian jolly well play some kind of important role in the KOTE. Therefore, I'm not really sure how to judge this book by itself since the story in Troubled Waters doesn't feel complete. It's more like the beginning of a longer storyline that will most likely be addressed in future books featuring Clan Najwa.
The romance takes a backseat to the exposition. Apparently these two feel something so powerful during their tepidly described love scene that they are affected by the mojo or something like that. It will be nice if the author has presented a very hot love scene to back up her claim that the earth apparently moved so much that it's love, because right now all I can do is to go back to the tepid love scene, snort as I reread it, and say, "These people clearly need to get out of the house more often."
At the end of the day, all I can say is this: I believe that even if a book is merely the beginning of a series, it should at least give me, the reader, an idea as to where the grand storyline is heading towards. That way, I will be invested in reading future books in the series. However, in Troubled Waters, the only sense I get is that the story isn't finished. I have, however, no idea, whether the storyline will continue or whether it is going anywhere. There is that thing about the marine polluters but there is no compelling Big Bad Villain hovering in the shadows, no grand plot seeming to unfold, nothing.
Troubled Waters is a quick and easy read but it doesn't reach out and grab my attention. Of the three Terran Realm books out so far, I'd say you will probably be more pleased picking up Bonnie Dee's Measure Of A Man if you're new to the series. Like Troubled Waters, that one has an ongoing storyarc that will continue in the author's future Terran Realm books but unlike Troubled Waters, there is a solid sense of where the storyline is going, the action is there along with a satisfying romance, and the story as a result feels complete even if the storyline isn't done yet by the last page. It's everything that Troubled Waters should have been also.
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