When pirates run captain Kristian Anderson’s ship to ground, Kristian thinks he’ll spend half a day waiting for the danger to pass. Little does he imagine the real danger will come from the mythical mermen who inhabit the island, waiting to seduce stray sailors. That is exactly what Kristian encounters, however. He and several of his crew mates get caught in the spellbindingly seductive song of the mermen. One moment, Kristian is captain of a ship. The next moment, he is face-to-face with the most gorgeous creature he’s ever seen…and debauched to within an inch of his very life. Kristian resents every lick of pleasure the merman, Tarlis, pulls from his body…even as he struggles to tamp down on how overwhelmingly enjoyable every lewd act is. But when disaster strikes a crew member, the mermen let Kristian and his sailors escape.
Kristian should have been free. But instead, he finds himself in desperate need of Tarlis. Kristian tries to convince himself all he wants is to give Tarlis a taste of his own sexy medicine. Eventually, Kristian even orchestrates a way for their paths to cross again. But when he finally gets Tarlis back, Kristian realizes there’s more than just sex on the line. Slowly, one mind-melting orgasm at a time, the two men grow closer together. But will that burgeoning connection be enough when a group of men come for Tarlis, convinced his wanton desire for Kristian will also slake their own lust?
Hunting the Merman is the second book in Aramis Jordan’s Cursed Mermen series. This story shifts the series focus to Kristian, captain of The Haste, and Tarlis, a loner merman who came from the northern seas by way of the mer King’s court. The chapters switch between Kristian’s and Tarlis’ perspectives and the action shifts from the Caribbean to Sweden. Like the first book, there is an intense focus on the sexual exploits of the main characters. Also like the first book, I thought there was a strong sense of dubious consent, or at least reluctant consent. For example, when Tarlis has Kristian bound in ropes in the mermen’s cave and is (for want of a better word) putting the moves on Kristian, Kristian is caught between disgust at being vulnerable, but also being attracted to Tarlis. This is the dialogue they share:
“Get your hands off me,” Kristian said and flexed to let [Tarlis] know he was angry. Not to show off his muscles, obviously.
“Make me,” Tarlis said with infuriating calmness.
“You tied me up, you little…”
“Hmm. So you’re pretending you can’t tear that old rope?” Tarlis asked, smoothing his hands up and down Kristian’s thighs, eyes trailing back to Kristian’s hard cock. Dammit, that bitch saw right through him.
For me, it was exhausting how mercurial the words-to-actions-to-words aspect of the story was. Kristian also often takes a derogatory attitude towards Tarlis. Given the lack of history between these two characters, I found the mismatch between words and deeds and the belittling way Kristian addresses Tarlis to be off putting.
Readers who aren’t so keyed into these issues, however, will find a sweeping melodrama. After Kristian and Tarlis initially meet and Tarlis fucks Kristian’s brains out, the two separate. Kristian is irate because he blames the mermen for putting one of his crew in mortal danger. He then spends the next two years combing the seas looking for Tarlis with the vague notion of finding him and punishing him…with his cock. In the brief snippets of prose between when Kristian leaves the Caribbean and when he is reunited with Tarlis, we see a man desperate to find the merman who fucked him so well, he cannot let it go. Conversely, Tarlis is so distraught over how they parted ways, he leaves the Caribbean mer-colony to return to a solitary life among the islands of Scandinavia. If obsessive attraction is a theme you enjoy, this story delivers in spades.
When the two eventually come back together, Kristian has prepared an out-of-the-way place for him to exact his sexual revenge on Tarlis. Specifically, it’s a dungeon in an abandoned castle, complete with shackles and torture implements. Naturally, this leads to the characters engaging in a bit of sadomasochism. With page after page of painstakingly described fucking going on, I was hoping for equally intense feelings of intimacy to eventually win these two hard-headed men over. Jordan does manage this towards the end, but again…there is a lot of sex going on, and the warm-fuzzies Kristian and Tarlis could be having often get interrupted by misconceptions. Kristian is very jealous/wary that Tarlis actually seduced some guards to escape. Meanwhile, Tarlis misunderstands this same run-in with the guards as an indication that Kristian meant to traffic him.
Overall, this book was more miss than hit for me. As intensely descriptive as the sexual content was, I felt like it failed to build up the relationship between the characters. The conflict between character dialogue and actions/inner monologue was difficult for me to process as well. If you’re just looking for a smutty, dubcon story with hot main characters and a happy ending, though, this will fit the bill.