Shrouded in mist, the hidden shoreline near her family's Maine estate is a place of refuge for Claire Bishop. There, she can forget the physical limitations imposed by a tragic accident and escape judgmental eyes. Yet someone is watching from the depths of the sea, a being who senses her inner despair and is drawn to help her. Prince Morgan, risen from the waves and as perfect a man Claire has ever laid eyes on. She is sure she has dreamed him into existence - Morgan's masculine beauty and sensual tenderness cannot be real. Then the dream overtakes reality...
With Morgan at her side, Claire is suddenly freed, swimming with him to a lost paradise, a fantastic underwater world with a sunken stone city at its heart. Soon the lovers find that their union has aroused the wrath of his warring clan - but Claire would rather die than return to her crippling life on earth, and Morgan will not live without the woman he adores...
I was a bit bipolar on this book. There were parts that I liked, but there were also problems that interfered with my enjoyment of the story. I love to be pulled into a story to the point where the real world falls away. Instead, I was constantly wearing my editor’s hat, rewriting sections in my head thinking I would have done this differently or I would have described a scene this way (for instance, there was a lot of unnecessary info dumping and backstory that should have been cut IMO.)
I understood Claire’s side of the relationship. She’s depressed because of her disability and frustrated because everyone around her treats her like she’s an invalid. When she’s with Morgan, she can swim and breathe underwater. He challenges her and admires her intelligence. Half the time she believes she’s either dreaming or hallucinating on pain meds, so she just goes with the flow, falling in love with her dream man. Morgan, on the other hand, falls for Claire quicker than seemed believable. We come into the story after he’s already been watching her for a while from the sea. They have one brief conversation on the beach and then the next night he takes her into the sea intending to make love to her to get her out of his system (relations between Atlantians and humans is forbidden). In the middle of the act, he suddenly has these strong feelings for her that I never saw develop. They’re just there with no connection or chemistry to back them up.
Also, Atlantians are blue. I kept picturing the Pandorans from Avatar, only not as tall and with gills, webbed feet and hands. Morgan uses an illusion spell so that Claire sees him as human. However, twice he’s unconscious or near death around her and yet the spell still holds. I would have liked to see Claire’s reaction when her dream man changes from Brad Pitt to a member of the Blue Man group.
Irons does a good job of giving us a creepy villain. Claire’s psychologist ex-husband is outwardly perfect, if a bit overbearing in public. In private, he has more issues (sexual perversions) than many of his clients. I kept wondering how he planned to get Claire’s money and in the end, Irons ties up the loose ends nicely.
All is not paradise in Atlantis. Morgan has to answer for his transgressions with a human woman and there’s backstabbing and scheming afoot among members of the royal family. This part of the book interested me the most.
With a couple of 5 star reviews on Amazon and a 4 star review in RT, I figured this would be the area where this book stood out. Irons does a decent job most of the time (loved the scene where they’re swimming with the manta rays). However, just when I would be floating along in her mystical undersea world, there would be a reference to something that should not be under water -- people shed tears, sweat, smell, walk when they should be swimming. There’s also underwater freshwater lakes, waterfalls, trees, flowers, herds of land dwelling animals, and American Indians (don’t know where that one came from). Sometimes I thought they were on land and then a dolphin or octopus would swim by, reminding me that they were under water. Every time it happened, it jerked me out of the story. I was constantly confused. I couldn’t tell if some of the places were like in the “Land that Time Forgot” with air pockets in vast undersea caverns. In one brief instance, Claire observes that the air was like a different kind of water – it was there and she could feel it around her, but she couldn’t see it. I needed this explained more. I think Irons missed an opportunity here of taking this book to the next level by making the undersea world too much like being on land. I admit I had very high expectations in this area for this book. I wanted to be immersed in a totally different sensory atmosphere, along with all the limitations and advantages of being under the sea, and too often I couldn’t tell if I was under water or not.
The Big Twist *SPOILER ALERT AHEAD*:
I saw this one coming from the very beginning. As soon as Claire mentions that she was adopted and there were secrets about who her birth mother was, I knew how this book would end. Of course, I had to wonder how a person with Atlantian DNA in them could live near the ocean and resist the water as much as she did. She grows up spending summers at her grandma’s beach house and yet has never swam in the ocean because her father supposedly feared the water and forbade her to go in. I don’t know many people who could keep a child out of the surf for 30 years. Plus, the accident that paralyzed her occurred on a jet ski. Who rides a jet ski and yet doesn’t go in the water?
The ‘IT’ Factor:
I think the thing that sold this book was the concept. I loved the idea of a paralyzed woman discovering freedom in the sea and finding love with an Atlantian warrior prince. It’s a great elevator pitch, however problems with the world building prevented this from being a keeper for me. But that’s just me. Obviously given the ratings by other reviewers, they thought differently and you might too.