“Selkies?” My husband leaned over my shoulder and peered at the computer screen. “Isn’t that pretty much a were-seal?”
Without turning my head, I nodded to the tone of, “Yes, what’s your point?”
“It works,” I said while trying to read at the same time. “She’s taken the concept and run with it. And it works.”
When I asked my husband to help me read and review books, he said he would do it as long as he didn’t have to read any romance. He likes fantasy, and he enjoys a little romantic resolution at the end. But if the author lists “romance” as the genre, he’s not interested.
I admit to a secret soft spot for romance. It’s a secret because I pretend to be a tough broad, and romance is famous for its sap. I can’t just read any romance, though. I don’t want a boring, contemporary setting. It has to have a fantasy element. It can’t be what everyone else is reading. It can’t be cliché.
What constitutes cliché? Vampires within a love story now count as cliché. Ms. Meyer took that last horse and rode it until it collapsed. Even if someone else wove a fabulous tale with some new gimmick, I’m not interested if vampires fall in love. Quickly becoming cliché are Greek gods, angels, and demons. As soon as a few more authors figure out how to write zombies as sympathetic characters, those join the list.
What, exactly, is a selkie? In Irish mythology, a selkie is a seal that can shed its skin and walk on land as a human female. She’s powerful, similar to a siren. However, if a human male finds her pelt, she must obey him unless she can reclaim it. I had learned about selkies when I read a book about fairies as a preteen. I’d never seen the concept used in a story. So, when Sophie Moss offered The Selkie Spell as a free download for St. Patrick’s Day, she caught my attention.
Currently, Ms. Moss has two books available in the Seal Island Trilogy: The Selkie Spell and The Selkie Enchantress. Her third, The Selkie Sorceress, is due to release on April 25th. You can learn about these books on her blog.
In The Selkie Spell, American doctor Tara Moore arrives on a little Irish island as she runs from her abusive husband. She meets Dominic O’Sullivan and works in his pub. Events and details unravel about the island’s legend, and Tara has to face her husband in addition to answering the legend.
The Selkie Enchantress starts about three months after the prequel ended, where Caitlin has fallen in love with Dominic’s brother, Liam. When a mysterious woman and her child arrive on the island, trapping Liam in a spell, Caitlin unravels a second legend of which she is a part. After fragments of her past return, Caitlin has more to fight for than just Liam.
Alright, it’s review time.
I enjoyed these. They contained an appropriate amount of sap, for they are romance first and foremost. The sap did not run intolerably sweet, though, and the books avoided many pitfalls for which romance is criticized. First, she did not use a bullying, overbearing and abusive alpha males as protagonists. Both Dominic and Liam are strong and masculine, but they don’t push around their women. They don’t control them or demean them. The controlling men are antagonists, such as Tara’s ex-husband. The “saved by a man” motif isn’t an issue, for the women are the heroes in these books. They do the necessary saving. As far as the heroines’ demeanors, they have goals aside from falling in love. Their relationships do not define their lives, and though Caitlin has a little remorse for some of her actions, they don’t compromise themselves for the sake of their men.
Rating: Grownup. Really, this depends on what level of cursing and sex you consider tolerable. I say these are grownup because many of my friends, grownups included, want a squeaky clean story. Both of these books contain a few F-bombs and a few sex scenes. The cursing is minimal, though, and the sex doesn’t dominate the story. As the author is careful to make the scenes tasteful, she manages to stay a step above most sex scenes in today’s romance novels. Some readers were bothered by the violence in the first book, but I found it appropriate for character development without becoming graphic. So, if you want super soapy clean reading, you’ve been warned. If you’re fine with a few F-bombs and sex scenes, they won’t be an issue.
Credibility rating: Escapist. If you want a serious epic story with earth-shattering denouement, take a moment and read the genre: Irish Fairy Tale/Fantasy Romance. This is a fun read. It’s not going to define your life, and it’s not going to become the next movie blockbuster. Wait… I retract that. I never expected a vampire and a mopey girl to define the next level of teen entertainment, either. So you never know. Anyway… the storyline of The Selkie Spell was a lot more realistic, interweaving the fairytale into a very real problem of domestic violence. The Selkie Enchantress jumped right into fantasy. All antagonists were magical in some way. The main conflict itself existed on paper rather than emulating real life. Is this a problem? Again, read the genre. If you’re looking for a realistic romantic story, you’re in the wrong e-aisle.
Satisfaction rating: Salivating. For the third book. Arrgghh, come on April 25th! Until then, I’ll sample some other worthy indie works to keep me company.
Happy Birthday, Sophie Moss!