Aiden has a gift, or maybe a curse, where he can see the magical folk wandering among us. Elf, troll, witch, or warlock, Aiden can somehow see through every glamour, which has caused him no end of problems. When a troll roughed up Aiden for how he treated the troll’s elven boyfriend, Aiden hightailed it out of town to the sunny beaches of Portugal where he now owns a small cafe, sits on the beach, and does nothing whatsoever except what he wants to do.
However, when magical creatures start dying around him, a local witch turns to Aiden for help. Bored, and more than a little curious — especially when the prime suspect is the handsome asshole Naël Fouchard who makes Aiden’s blood boil (in both the good way and the bad) — taking a little look around wouldn’t hurt. Right?
Aiden is, or was, a sort of detective. He’s also not quite as human as he’d like to believe he is. Having no idea who his parents were, Aiden’s had to accept that he may never know what he really is. At least it leaves him free to be who he is. Prone to being lost in his own thoughts, Aiden isn’t an agressive man. He’s more than willing to let others lead, though he gets a thrill out of taking command — especially when Naël offers to let Aiden take charge in bed.
Naël is a merrow, what humans might call a merman. He spent time living among humans in the navy and working with a forensic team, though he never gives Aiden any details, and so is familiar with the way the non-magical population thinks and feel about his kind. But, Naël has his reasons for living among mortals, which is what led him to Aiden. Aiden who he is quickly, very quickly, falling head over tail in love with.
This book has issues. Issues is a strong word, but it’s the best one to use here. It’s not a secret that I have a fondness for world building. If only this book had any. A host of magical creatures live in this world alongside humans and humans just don’t know? Humans and magical folk can breed, in some cases, and merrow DNA is on register with the army and the local police force, so how well known are the paranormal races? It’s never made clear. At all. The world feels more like it’s made on the spot with rules being thrown out like scarves to cover any questionable gaps.
Speaking of gaps, for the first 15% of this book, I had no idea Aiden was a detective/private investigator/what have you. None. It was only when a witch came to ask Aiden to help with the murders that there was any indication Aiden was anything other than a coffee shop owner. It didn’t feel like it was meant to be a shock; it felt like it might have been forgotten until that moment. Aiden talks about the magical folk like he’s never had anything to do with them, but he waltzes into the magical city like he’s been there a dozen times before.
It’s an interesting choice. Often we see a wide eyed character, new to the world, exploring the unknown races, rules, and cities. Or we see a world weary character whose been there, done that, and bought more than their fair share of t-shirts who allows the reader to learn at their elbow. But this third choice, to just have it spring up like a surprise, didn’t work for me. Honestly, it felt as if there hadn’t been a clear choice made in how to present a scene, so it was just put down in front of me with no explanation.
Again and again, we’re told all sorts of things, like how every magical creature wants in Aiden’s pants. Or how Aiden is a man whore because… ? Aiden thinks about how cynical he is, but he doesn’t act cynical. He talks about how hurt he’s been in the past — not with examples, just by saying he’s been hurt, and then moving on without lingering for emotional depth or character building to go moon over Naël. I was honestly left with no real mental image of who Aiden was a a person, and I didn’t really care. I just wanted to finish the book and move on.
The pacing is just all over the place. At 15% I find out Aiden is a private investigator and is given a case. At 50% into the story, he starts investigating … ish. People are dying and Aiden and Naël go off to fuck. He’s given a suspect and an address, and when he goes to check it out, he and Naël get shot at. Then they go home to romp in the sun and screw for two weeks. Aiden seems to care nothing at all about the case he’s in theory working on, seems not to care that someone tried to kill him, and when someone reminds them that people are still dying, Aiden goes and finishes it up in a few pages. Then there’s the B plot of “what is Aiden, really” that shows up randomly and never gets dealt with. It just was confusing, and with all the telling and no showing, it was also boring.
It was hard for me to get into this book. I felt like it was all surface level and jumbled up. I also really didn’t like how, after Aiden and Naël slept together for the first time, Aiden was upset that Naël didn’t immediately change into a different person. Naël often calls Aiden slow or dense, he’s sarcastic and mocking, and Aiden is fine with that until the morning after, when he gets angry because Naël is still Naël, and the fish he kissed doesn’t turn into prince charming.
The writing isn’t bad, but the pacing and the plotting are all over the place. The characters are never more than a two dimensional sketch and the murder “mystery” is a very limited token with no twists, turns, or personality. Maybe I’ll enjoy this author’s future works, but I’m going to have to suggest that you give this one a pass.