Cover

Cover

by Melanie Niles

This novella is Ms Niles second installment in her Adronis series. Since it is the policy of this reviewer to include spoilers from the current book, those who have not yet read At the Water’s Edge are advised to read that novella – or at least the review – first. Otherwise, here is a (very) brief recap of the last part of At The Water’s Edge:

Sara returned to the Bahamas in search of closure. The attractive and attentive pre-med student has been something of a blessing but try as she might, Sara feels nothing for him. She is haunted by what sounds like Darien singing at night and finally spots him in a crowd. It is indeed Darien and the pre-med student is out of the running. Darien asks Sara to go home with him to the undersea city of Adronis but with the caveat that she can never return. After her arrival, Darien takes Sara to meet his mother; a real piece of work if ever there was one. While Mom is reluctant to consent to their union, she finally agrees with the proviso that Sara become one of them post-haste. Sara is finally able to swim with Darien and they live happily ever after – or so they think.

Sara – or more properly, Lady Sara – has settled into life with Darien beneath the surface. Although she misses home she has been occupied on a more important project for the past seven months; attempting to fall pregnant. Like many land-based females, Sara finds that it is not as easy as it sounds. Moreover, her husband’s position requires that he produce an heir. Then, there are her studies; more like a forced march, actually. She must learn the language of her new people as well as history, customs, etiquette, etc. In addition to all that, she must have a daily drink of this foul-tasting juice to maintain her vim, vigour and vitality.

To add to this misery, a delegation from the only remaining city of their kind, Emphali, is due to arrive and Sara will have to meet, greet and entertain the Regent, his wife and two daughters, the youngest one is a nubile sexpot. Sara is under pressure to not embarrass her in-laws and, by extension, the citizens of Adronis. One underlying reason for the visit is to tempt Darien with a more suitable wife for a man of his station; one that will be able to give him an heir. None of this is Darien’s idea as he’s still deeply in love with Sara and is steadfast in his belief that she will make a wonderful first lady of Adronis.

Behind all of this is Sara’s mother-in-law, the Lady Riona. She was against their marriage from the outset and is doing everything within her considerable powers to break up the marriage. Sara can never go back to life on land but this is of no concern to Lady Riona as long as she just simply goes away; the sooner the better. Factor in Sara’s usual insecurities as well as the distrust/hatred of people from the surface which has been drummed into the heads of the Adronians and it is easy to see why she is a mental and emotional wreck.

“My lady,” she said in as polite a voice as she could manage. Riona blinked with a satisfied smile on her face – feeding her ego seemed to work well on her, although it left a bitter taste in Sara’s mouth. “If I will one day be the Guardian’s wife, should I not also spend time with the regent and his family?” Like the First Lady or a queen, the spouse of the true ruler but still well-respected and under a microscope. Riona’s lips twisted. “Perhaps later. You hardly know Adronis and would embarrass us.” The words stung, but something inside Sara insisted on fighting this woman. “I would only be observing.” “No. Attend to your studies.” “But – ” Riona stepped close, her eyes smoldering with something wicked. “You are not one of us. That is the embarrassment.”

Aside from Darien, Sara may have an ally in all of this in the form of Ethan, the “pre-med student” from At The Water’s Edge. Ethan had been despatched by Lady Riona to test Sara’s loyalty in that book and had failed to shake her bond with Ethan. Along the way, it appears that Ethan has developed a significant crush on Sara which certainly does not please Ethan. The fact that he is Lady Riona’s button man only increases Sara’s suspicions. Just whose side is he on?

Stir in some suspicious activities by the Regent’s daughters and you have a pretty good undersea suspense novel. While there was a degree of mystery in the first novella in the Adronis series, it is fully developed in this story. There are – as before – a few issues of logic in the back-story for this series, they do not detract from the overall story.

For her part, it is extremely easy to have sympathy for Sara’s character. While she is bending over backward to do the right thing at the right time for everyone, her mother-in-law continues to cast her as the completely improper, inappropriate and infertile screw-up who can do no right. This reviewer has suffered the outrageous slings and arrows from Lady Riona’s human counterpart and can readily attest that the character is drawn from real life with amazing accuracy. Sara’s insecurities are back in full force for this story and now they simply exacerbate the situation.
Darien does his best to protect Sara and promote her many virtues but he is unaware of the extent of his mother’s perfidy until it is almost too late. Lady Riona has been all too successful at poisoning the minds of the visiting delegation by playing the land-dweller card and thus Darian has to deal with threats from multiple directions.

Like its predecessor, At The Water’s Edge, Beneath The Crashing Waves is a quick yet engrossing read that is well worth its price. It is both entertaining and thought-provoking thus leading the reader to wonder just what they would do in a similar situation; assuming, of course, that there actually is a technologically advanced race of people living deep under water near the Bahamas.

Ms Niles has written a number of multi-novella series and this reviewer is left wondering if she plans to continue with a third installment. While Beneath The Crashing Waves does have a bit of finality to the end of the story, so did At The Water’s Edge. Although there is no massive amount of threads left hanging, there do seem to be enough to launch a third installment. For example, only a few citizens of Adronis know that Sara was originally a land-dweller. What – if anything — will happen when they find out? Sara misses her parents and sister terribly. At one point in the story, she gets a call through to her mother to let her know she’s all right and promises to call again in the future. Does she ever get to make that call? Does she ever get to see her parents again? Will they ever learn that they are grandparents? If Sara and Darian are finally able to have children what will they tell them of the world above the surface?
This reviewer hopes that Melanie Niles will give serious consideration at some point to continuing the Adronis series. He also suspects that her fans will feel the same way too.

My Rating:

Mellanie Nilles’ website is at melanienilles.com

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