Cover

Cover

by Melanie Niles
People have mixed reactions to Novellas. On one hand, they are great for a quick read whilst on the other hand, the story is over way too soon. This reviewer has noticed a trend which has worked its way into mer-fiction; that of the serial novella. An author will write two or more novellas as a series. Each is a quick read but taken together, they form a pretty god novel.

Mellanie Nilles has done just that with her Adronis series: At the Water’s Edge and Beneath the Crashing Waves. Inasmuch as this reviewer is loath to reveal story endings and pivotal moments in his reviews, he will review each one separately.

There are things which we do at the behest of others that we would rather not do at all. We do them against our better judgment and sometimes, our worst fears are quickly realised. Sara Adams finds herself in just such a predicament.

Sara is a college student who hails from land-locked Wyoming. Like most college students, the siren call of spring break has lured her and she dutifully follows her friend to the Bahamas for a week of fun in the sun. Though Sara is happy with herself as she is, there has been more than one gripe that she’s something of a stick-in-the-mud. Determined to prove to one and all – and to herself as well – that she can indeed be adventuresome, she signs up for a tourist cruise to see the Bahamas’ corner of The Bermuda Triangle. This proves to be her undoing as a violent storm comes up from nowhere and Sara is swept overboard. On the edge of drowning, something happens; is it that last bit of wild neural activity in the face of rapidly approaching death or did something take ahold of her and place something over her mouth? This is where her story really begins.

Sara wakes up on a deserted island with a stack of fruit close at hand and a supply of fresh water just up the hill. Her exploration of the island reveals that she is truly alone which makes the daily re-supply of food something of a mystery. Where does it come from and who brings it? Certainly not the dolphin that seems to play offshore during the day. Sara would like to see it up close but she is terrified of the water.

He smiled, a handsome smile, but he probably was a dream to look so perfect with that sculpted, hairless body. Brad had never looked that good. The only thing to make Darian a perfect physical specimen would be a nice reddish brown tint to his skin, but her dreams were never perfect.

Sara’s caterer is finally revealed in the person of Darian, a fair-skinned, blue-eyed blond with one of those bodies that’s impossible to obtain no matter how long a guy works out at the gym. Besides being a delicious piece of eye-candy, Darian speaks no English. And so begins the long process of opening a line of communication. It’s a pidgin language which by the end of her stay on the island has progressed beyond “Me Tarzan. You Jane”, but not by much.

Since this is a romance, it goes without saying that Darian and Sara are attracted to each other but he is a man of mystery. Darian is never around when it rains and just where does he disappear to every evening? Alone at night, Sara’s insecurities take over only to vanish in the morning upon Darian’s return. Eventually, he tries to explain to Sara that his home is out there, in the water. Sara assumes that it’s an island just over the horizon – At least that explains where the food comes from. Darian is trying to entice Sara to enter the water so he can take her to his home – she wants no part of that as having her ankles awash is more than enough for her – when the cavalry arrives in the form of a U.S. Coast Guard chopper. Sara is hoisted to safety and looking at her temporary home one last time, she sees the tail of her guardian dolphin as it disappears beneath the waves.

Sara is reunited with her family and does the usual round of interviews and talk shows. Things finally settle down and she sets about repeating last year’s coursework that was interrupted by her disappearance. Still, something isn’t quite right and she has a hard time reconciling her experiences on the island with what she knows as reality. Sara resumes dating and returns to the Bahamas the following spring in the company of a handsome pre-med student. If she is seeking anything on this trip, it most certainly includes closure.

She walked to the edge of the water so the waves rolled over her toes. Despite the warmth of the night, she wrapped her arms around herself. If only she’d gone out in the water that day with Darian, she might not have been found and could still be there with him… but had it been real?

At The Water’s Edge shares a number of key plot points with the movie, Splash. Notice the usage of the word “share” because it is in no way a borrowing or theft of ideas. Yes, there is the near drowning, the rescue by persons unknown, the central character waking up on a deserted island and the sight of a sea-creature broaching the surface. OK, there is also the reason for Darian’s absence during the rain too. But that is where the similarities end and the mystery begins.

Melanie Niles is an experienced story-teller and this is not the first paranormal romance she has penned. Being that it is a novella, the story is devoid of sub-plots and does not beat around the bush in carrying the story forward. Parts of the back-story to At The Water’s Edge seem to be a stretch – even for a fantasy tale – but this book is meant to entertain and provide a bit of respite from this mundane world. Melanie’s story certainly accomplishes those goals. For readers seeking a fresh romance or a new take on mer-lore, you have certainly come to the right place.

My Rating:

Mellanie Nilles’ website is at melanienilles.com

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