Raen is a merman living deep in the ocean. He’s without a mate, much to the consternation of his father, Nerrocen, who is ashamed of him. Merfolk go on a hunt where they gather food as an offering to Krakir, who has “dominion over everything beneath the surface,” and the merfolk tend to discover their true mate on these hunts. Raen went once and it ended traumatically (think sharks), and he was almost killed. He never met any potential mates, either.
Since time immortal, the merfolk have been taught to NEVER approach humans. They’ve been told humans are evil and will not only kill them, but they’d expose the undersea society to the world. One evening, Raen is swimming in a little area where he goes to be alone and think. He sees a small boat with a human in it. The human is trying to (unsuccessfully) catch fish without bait, and falls into the ocean. Raen is faced with a decision. Ignore the human and allow him to die, or to break the most important rule and help him back into his boat and get him to shore. He chooses the latter, and soon Raen’s pushed the boat onto the beach.
Steven is here in the hot, humid, isolated location because he’s recovering from leukemia and he wanted to just take some time for himself. He has no electricity, but he’s got a larder full of canned and dried food. Steven attempts to fish, but loses consciousness and wakes up on beach, unaware how he got there. He seems to remember a beautiful young man helping, but comes to the conclusion it was a hallucination.
Raen’s actions make his father and Krakir furious. As punishment, Krakir takes away Steven’s tail and gives him legs. Banished from the only home he’s ever known, Raen awakens on the same beach where he brought Steven. Soon, Steven finds him and assumes Raen is a refugee or has fallen off a cruise ship. Raen longs to tell Steven the truth, but he can’t because, along with taking his tail, Krakir has also taken his voice.
The men quickly develop romantic feelings toward each other. Raen knows he’s found his mate, but he’s unable to communicate this to Steven. Still, their connection cannot be denied, and Raen and Steven fall in love. Now, they have to figure out what their future holds, but that won’t be easy. Will they be able to be together, or will sea and Krakir prevent that from happening?
Beyond the Surface is a creative take on a Little Mermaid-style tale, and I had a good time with it. I’m into the paranormal worlds of shifters, but I’ve never read anything like this. Raen and his family aren’t shifters. They’re just…merfolk, and they’ve always existed. I was intrigued by the idea, so as soon as I saw it, I grabbed it up.
The story is interesting and compelling. There aren’t many people who haven’t read/seen the Little Mermaid, and this feels familiar, albeit darker. The chapters flow nicely. Everything is straight forward and nicely detailed, but it isn’t bogged down by too many tiny inclusions that don’t add anything to the book.
Both Raen and Steven have had traumatic events that shape their lives. Raen’s near death and Steven’s leukemia have defined them. This is why I got wrapped up in Beyond the Surface…they’re good for each other, offering comfort even though they’re not able to communicate by speaking. They’ve got incredible chemistry, and the pair is super sexy. I like the idea of them being so isolated. They have time to really learn about each other with no distractions.
Beyond the Surface has some excitement to it. It’s well written and nail biting at times. I’m impressed with the pacing of this. I’m able to keep up with it, and to relax and enjoy the ride, and it is quite the ride. The end of the book is somewhat predictable, but that’s alright. It’s still enjoyable…like a comfort read with a hard won HEA. This left me satisfied and pleased.
Beyond the Surface is a unique take on a familiar fairy tale story, with solid characters and enough heat to make me fan myself. I absolutely recommend this book. It’s a fun way to spend an evening and leave you smiling.