Berkley Sensation, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-22199-0
Paranormal Romance, 2008
I believe I would like Sea Witch better if it had been a straightforward romantic suspense featuring serial killers. Virginia Kantra’s attempt to sex up the story using a selkie heroine makes this story an awkward one to read. The romance is completely unbelievable because the characters are forced quickly into a sexual clinch with little attempt made by Ms Kantra to show that these characters are in love. What could have been an interesting romantic suspense story has become yet another tale crippled by the author’s desire to titillate the reader ASAP.
Margred, our selkie heroine, wants to have sex. Yes, every heroine in such stories wants to have sex before page 80. Get a number, Pinniped Barbie. Driven by her biological need to copulate with a willing human and also longing frantically for a child, Margred swims ashore to World’s End, an island in Maine, where she scores the big one with Caleb Hunter. As you can probably guess, Caleb is the law man of World’s End. Oh yes, he also used to be a soldier until Iraq gave him PTSD. He hopes to find some semblance of peace and quiet in his hometown, but Margred’s appearance into his life is followed by the body of a dead woman and a homicidal demon on the loose.
Caleb is an entertaining hero to follow even if he’s pretty much a generic example of the dependable if tortured action hero archetype. He can be self-effacing and funny, he’s reliable, and he gives good whoopee. The problem here is that the author has Caleb believing that he’s in love with Margred when he barely knows her. He doesn’t know whether Margred is a criminal on the run or not, and he does some background checks on her, but even then he’s already falling for her. I can only imagine that it must be his protective big daddy syndrome at work. Some guys love it when the woman is dependent on them, after all. The relationship seems to be more like lust at first sight rather than love.
Margred is a very problematic heroine because she’s too self-absorbed to the point that her tendency to keep secrets from Caleb actively prevents the reader from learning more about the paranormal aspects of this story. After all, she’s the only one, apart from the designated sequel bait, who knows all about the selkies. She’s not telling, so I’m left in the dark for so long. That isn’t a big problem, really – the bigger problem here is that Margred is a selkie, which I suppose accounts for her tendency to behave more like an alien from outer space. She hasn’t experienced any emotion that we could consider “human” before, so she often views the situation around her with what seems like apathetic curiosity.
So, am I suppose to believe that Caleb can fall in love with such a person?
The romantic suspense elements are well-paced and entertaining, although I have to say that the author’s attempt to show the villain doing skanky things come off as more unintentionally humorous than menacing. It’s really too bad that the romance is so poorly integrated into the story and the heroine doesn’t have much to do in this story other than to be protected and knocked up by the hero. All in all, Sea Witch is a cold fish of a read.