Book two of the 48-hour Book Challenge binge, and I am insane enough to be blogging five books in a row.
Miranda Merchant is a scientist. The daughter of two doctors, while other little girls were playing dress-up, she was joyfully conducting experiments, mixing baking powder and Mr Clean in water, and taking careful notes. She’s a rational, logical person. Then why is she seriously considering the existence of selkies and mermen?
Miranda is escaping a painful tangle that’s isolated her from her now ex-boyfriend and her best friend, and has left New York beind for Selkie Island in the southern U.S. Her estranged grandmother has just died, and Miranda’s mother needs her organized self to get the summer house she’s inherited into order to sell. Miranda quickly finds herself adrift in the world her mother left behind years ago, of Southern mansions, summer romances, glossy high-society types, sweet (iced) tea and peach juleps.
CeeCee, the daughter of her mother’s childhood friend, has decided that it’s a foregone conclusion that they’re going to be best friends for the summer, and is already angling to set Miranda up with one of the well-off society summer boys. Miranda’s taken aback at how comfortable her mother is in this foreign landscape and is far more in her own element with the newly-opened marine science centre, and the enigmatic local boy Leo.
But Leo’s just as much at home in the ocean and on the beach as in his summer job at the marine centre, and is not without his own mysteries. How does he find her every single time she sets foor on the beach? Why are they drawn to each other so strongly on barely a day’s acquaintance? Miranda finds herself, despite her inherent love of logic and science, drawn back to the small, battered volume of local island folklore in her grandmother’s house. And there are undercurrents running through her own family’s history that she never suspected…
I was a bit let down by this one, but that’s because I was expecting more fantasy than romance, and got more romance and family drama than selkies and magic. I am all for more strong female characters and geeky girls who love science, and Miranda was definitely an engaging and likeable heroine. It was a refreshing change, too, that CeeCee and her friends, though secondary characters, weren’t the flat, mean-girl stereotype I was originally expecting.
The gradual revelations of Miranda’s family history and personal heartbreak before she left home fit in well to the overall plot and tension, but I don’t think the supernatural and folklore elements were as well used as they could have been. The whole mythology seemed like a bit of an afterthought, unresolved, and not really essential to the story in the end. I wanted more of the darker complexities explored of your boyfriend possibly being a freaking merman, and Miranda having been born with webbed toes could have been used so much more effectively if it actually meant something.
However, I think a lot of my dissatisfaction comes from failed genre expectations. It’s definitely a good beach-blanket or hammock book if you’re wanting a summer romance, with likeable characters and a vivid setting. And it left me with a definite craving for iced tea…