Extended Review: Kissed By The Wave by Serena Gilley

When I met with some folks from the Forever team during RWA last week, one of the publicists casually mentioned Kissed by the Wave, a mermaid erotica releasing next week from their Forever Yours imprint. I immediately begged her to email me a copy ASAP so I could read it on the plane — how could I not read a mermaid erotica?

The world Serena Gilley created consists of two parts — the human world and the Forbidden Realm, made up of all sorts of creatures. In order to keep the supernatural world a secret, faeries grant wishes so humans are kept happy (surprise, most of what humans wish for is sex). When mermaid Aliya sees human Devin bringing ladies back to his yacht for sexytimes night after night, she’s intrigued. But being half fish, things are a little complicated.

Conveniently for Aliya, her best friend is wish-granting fairy Raea, who is dared by fairy Kyne — who thinks all humans are sex maniacs — to find a virgin and offer them the option of having a wish for money, health or popularity granted, or one night of “physical coupling” with the partner of their choosing. Since Kyne doesn’t specify the virgin has to be human, Raea grants virgin Aliya one night of coupling with Devin in a human body.

The rules of Gilley’s world are fascinating. There are only female mermaids, and unless they are approved to bare children (baby mermaids are bred by incubating fish eggs in a mermaid’s body), they don’t have vaginas or any other sort of similar hole in their lower body (I’m guessing maybe there’s one for waste, but that isn’t mentioned). Since Aliya is not a mother, she physically can’t have sex with anyone, let alone Devin, as a mermaid. Overall, faeries and mermaids don’t engage in romantic sex and think humans are brutes for doing so. Mermaids and faeries begrudgingly patrol human behavior with the sole incentive of keeping their existence hidden, and interaction with humans is very much forbidden.

As someone who started reading speculative fiction before romance, I would have appreciated a little more worldbuilding. With so many rules in Gilley’s world, there’s very little interaction between the governing organizations that regulate the world and the characters, who mostly operate on their own despite the many strict rules they must follow. However, I think most romance readers will be fine with the amount of worldbuilding in the story, which was enough to propel the romance.

Aliya and Devin’s romance relies very much on instalove, and I felt like I could’ve bought into their relationship more easily if there had been more dialogue between the two (most of their interaction is sexual). Devin’s attraction to Aliya is primarily physical, and he thinks her confusion when it comes to human life is just so adorable and twee. Overall, Aliya lacked personality and was very complacent throughout the entire book. Without explanation, she was ready and willing to leave her family and friends and give up her life to be with Devin. Obviously wanting to be with the person she loves makes sense, but her willingness to give up her seemingly happy life so easily was unsettling.

Kissed by the Wave is one of those books where the secondary romance overshadows the primary romance. The hate-flirting between Raea and Kyne is fantastic, and the tension that builds between them made me want to read book two before I finished book one. Generally I enjoy a good secondary romance, but when it’s more interesting than the primary couple’s relationship, it makes me wish I were reading a completely different story.

I was concerned the story would end with Aliya being magically turned into a human forever, but I was happy to discover it doesn’t. The resolution is very fair and satisfying, and results in both Devin and Aliya adjusting to changes in order to maintain their relationship.
If, like me, you’ve completely bought into the mermaid trend and the idea of a mermaid erotica gives you grabby hands, you’ll find Kissed by the Wave to be a fun, quick read.

You can downloaded Kissed by the Wave, available August 5. For more steamy love stories visit our Everything Erotica page.