by Tracy Deebs

Tempest Unleashed stands head, shoulders and tail above the debut book in the Tempest series; Tempest Rising. This is no implication that her first book is not an enjoyable read – which it is – but rather, that Ms. Deebs really seems to have hit her stride with the second novel.

As the story opens, it has been 8 months since Tempest swam off into the sunset with her Selkie boyfriend, Kona, and in that time she has learned quite a bit. For starters, the Queen of the mer-clan that Tempest belongs to is not the frail, kindly old lady that appears in the latter half of the first book. Appearances are deceiving and Queen Hailana has turned out to be a scheming, conniving, and manipulative person for whom no deed is too dark if the safety and future of the clan is at stake. In short, she is the mermaid version of Don Corleone.

Tempest also learns that her late mother was often Queen Hailana’s enforcer as well as her advisor. In other words, she was a cross between Luca Brazi and Michael Corleone. This gives a whole new perspective on the term “Sleeping with the fishes.”

Finally, Tempest has learned that aside from taking over the franchise after the Queen’s (un)timely demise, she is also the Queen’s advisor and whipping girl who seemingly cannot do anything right. Tempest is not too sure about the Queen business but she does have a score to settle with the evil – is there any other kind? – sea witch, Tiamat, over the death of her mother.

Tempest is glad that she has chosen the life aquatic but cannot¬†realistically¬†leave all of her past behind. Though her ex-boyfriend, Mark, has moved on to court a cheerleader and Tempest has moved on with her new boyfriend, Kona, she cannot say a final farewell to her family. She can also not say farewell to burgers from In and Out but that’s another part of the story.

Tempest is making a surreptitious visit to La Jolla to check on her family even though Hailana has told her that the cause of many of Tempest’s troubles and shortcomings is her inability to finally close the door on her life on land. Tempest still has a trouble calculating her arrival times and winds up off La Jolla, CA in the wee small hours of the morning. Dawn comes and she surfaces to have one final glimpse of her house. In doing so, she sees him – Mark, her old boyfriend – and discovers that things aren’t quite as dead and buried as she thought. Mark sees Tempest out in the ocean and it is readily apparent that he has not moved on as she had hoped.

Thus, the stage is set and Tempest Rising takes the reader on a roller coaster of danger, emotions and action. Much of mer-fiction is written with a primarily young adult female audience in mind. There is more than enough action in this story to attract YA males – at least those who are secure in their masculinity. Overall, Tempest Rising is a YA-friendly story. The battle scenes can be a bit violent but they are simply part of the action and this reviewer can assure readers that there are no mermaids tied to the railroad tracks in advance of the 9:15 train from LA. There is action, adventure and – of course – romance in Tempest Unleashed which should make the story quite appealing to Young Adult readers. While Tempest Rising could have easily been a stand-alone book, Tempest Unleashed leaves the reader begging for more.

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