"Wonderful Gothic Style Shapeshifter Romance"
This book was a Golden Heart Finalist. I was impressed
with the cover, which is very simple and has the words: "A
paranormal romance" directly below the title, hopefully a
breakthrough for the sub-genre.
Like the author, I've been enchanted with selkies from the
moment I read the children's tale GREYLING (by Jane
Yolen) to my youngsters nearly a decade ago. I had been
unaware of the legend surrounding them, but came across
another selkie story several years ago while reading Anne
Stuart's series romance A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT. I was
so incredibly excited not only to find another selkie tale,
but until that moment I had not known that paranormal
romance existed. Naturally I went in search of others and
found many hours of enjoyment in the world of paranormal. I
have since read dozens of shape shifter novels, but selkies
are my first love. You get the natural instincts and power
coupled with an innocence that isn't found in the predatory
shifters. It's a potent combination, especially in a hero.
I have found several other selkie romances, among them SEA
SPELL by Tess Farraday, STORM PRINCE by Terri Lynn Wilhelm,
and A WELL FAVORED GENTLEMAN by Christina Dodd. Naturally
there was no way I was going to pass this new story up. I
enjoyed it very much.
Orkney: a remote island in the North Sea, far off the
northern shore of Scotland
Four scientists make up the research team exploring the
cause of a mysterious disease plaguing the sea mammals in
the local waters. Each of them has a hidden agenda.
The newest and youngest member of the team is Kelsey
McKenzie. Her professional reason for being there is the
opportunity to do post-doctoral work with several renowned
marine biologists, and hopefully making her famous, but
remote father, proud. Her father, William Bouschour, has
spent his life at sea researching marine mammals, leaving
his motherless daughter to the care of others. He has
warned Kelsey to avoid this assignment, but she is
compelled here by a personal reason. She seeks to discover
the circumstances surrounding her mother's mysterious
death, which occurred twenty-five years ago in this place.
Kelsey's predecessor's death is a mystery as well.
Dr. Cade Douglas is a local scientist with very impressive
credentials. There is something very different about him.
His first meeting with Kelsey isn't promising. When she had
first arrived, she had strolled the shoreline,
contemplating past events that had taken place in her
childhood, when she'd stumbled upon a beautiful, and very
dead, silver seal. Hoping for her first break through,
Kelsey had intended to take the animal to the laboratory to
study its tissue. She had been halted by a very angry young
man. After harsh words, Kelsey finds herself alone. The
seal is gone and Kelsey has no memory of the last few
minutes. She later learns that the man is part of the
research team. Cade is short of stature, but powerfully
built and extremely graceful. His unusual silvery hair and
pewter eyes draw Kelsey in spite of his terse behavior
towards her. Though he tends to avoid contact with the new
assistant, in unguarded moments Kelsey catches glimpses of
a familiar longing in his eyes.
Cade too has personal reasons for working on the project.
His family's very survival depends upon a cure. Cade's
grandfather, Meredith, has warned him to avoid
involvement with Kelsey. Besides the fact that she is not
of their kind, her father is their sworn enemy. Cade's
father's death is somehow linked to that of Kelsey's
mother. Meredith blames Bouschour for both that and a theft
that has tied Meredith to shore, isolated from his family,
for a quarter of a century. By his very profession,
Bouschour is a risk to the survival of Cade's clan. They
cannot afford to allow his daughter to learn of their
Dr. Bracken is the senior scientist in the research team.
He had chosen Kelsey to participate in this project for his
own reasons. His true quest is to discover the hiding place
of the fabled silver seals that he believes are selkies,
shape-shifters who take the form of man on land. A
colleague of Kelsey's father at the time of her mother's
death, he'd also been Kelsey's mentor. He knows more about
the mystery surrounding Kelsey's mother than he's willing
to share. On the surface he is all that is kind, but he
seems fanatically obsessed with fostering a personal
relationship between Cade and Kelsey. How far will Bracken
go to bring this pair together? What are his suspicions
regarding Cade? Kelsey? What lengths will he go to, to
discover the seals? Why is he so interested in Kelsey's
Dr. Erik Norland, a Swedish scientist, is unpleasant toward
Kelsey from the start. He isn't impressed with her
credentials and sees her as a distraction. His goal is to
keep the research on track regardless of who he has to step
over to accomplish it. He is aware of Dr. Bracken's hidden
agenda and does not approve. If he has his way, no one
will ever know of the existence of the selkies, if he has
to destroy them himself. He is a true fanatic.
Cade is aware of Braken's underhanded plans but, despite
his grandfather's warning and the risk to his people, he is
drawn to Kelsey. Deep down he knows that she could never
accept his true nature, and yet he cannot resist her any
more than she can resist him.
Kelsey's predecessor, a friend and fellow student, had died
here under mysterious conditions. Cade has implied that she
had drowned. When Kelsey meets with an "accident" at sea,
she becomes suspicious of the other two scientists. Cade is
notably absent, or is he?
Cade has met with an accident himself. A swim in the sea
has jeopardized his health. The research becomes a matter
of life and death. The game has become dangerous. It's now
or never, those at cross-purposes must play their hands.
Things come to a head, not all will survive.
Will Kelsey find the cure to save Cade? Will they be able
to protect the silver seals from those who would destroy
them? Why is Kelsey so special, and what has this to do
with her mother's death all those years ago? Can she and
Cade find a way to be together? All these questions will
be answered and then some. If you love selkie lore as much
as I do, you will enjoy this story.
Copyright © 2001
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted September 6, 2001