Book Three of The Syrenka Series
By Amber Garr
With power comes the responsibility to accept its consequences.
After the betrayal of those closest to her, Eviana Dumahl struggles to cope with her new reality. Kidnapped, broken, and confused, she is forced to engage in a war that will alter merfolk politics forever. With her estranged father leading the charge, Eviana has no choice but to stand by his side. Her continued existence hinges on the acceptance of the power growing inside her, even when that means embracing the family’s dark lineage.
Kain Matthew will sacrifice the world for Eviana. And he is not alone. As time runs out, her friends fight to save her life and theirs. An unlikely alliance gives them the edge they need to take a stand, although it keeps Eviana’s heart trapped in the past. A new discovery explains some of her previous mistakes, but it may not be enough to stop her father’s plans. Merfolk, selkies, and water sprites work together to save their kind, only in this final battle, not everyone will survive.
In the striking series conclusion, Eviana will learn the true meaning of power, sacrifice, and love.
When Graham and I surfaced back inside our coral-walled prison, we noticed that someone had brought us two plates of food. Without speaking to him, I pulled myself out of the water and willed my legs to come back to me. Considering our history, I might have had some concern over Graham seeing me naked, but once again, I couldn’t muster up the energy to care.
“I see they’ve improved the food,” he commented.
“Doesn’t matter, I’m not eating,” I said without even looking at the plates. Now that we had the light from underwater, it made it easier to move about the room and identify what Lucian’s cronies were feeding us.
“Nope,” I said as I finished pulling my shirt over my head. When I turned around, I saw Graham chewing on a piece of pineapple and sifting through the rest of the items. Much to my dismay, my stomach growled. It was so loud that Graham chuckled.
“Perhaps your body wants some nourishment.”
“I don’t care.”
“Suit yourself, tart.”
I rolled my eyes and walked over to him. The smell of the food was overwhelming and I couldn’t help but look down at it. “Don’t call me that,” I said but spoke more to the plate. There was some type of fish wrapped in a banana leaf and it smelled delicious.
“You’re drooling,” he teased.
“It’s probably poisoned.”
He bit into another piece of fruit. “Well, I haven’t eaten anything solid in days, so I’ll take my chances.” Grabbing his plate, he sat down cross-legged on the floor and proceeded to stuff his face.
Tempted, I fought the urge to give in. I didn’t really know what the purpose of my hunger strike was and how it would help get me out of here. I guess I just wanted to be difficult.
I finished packing up the duffle bag full of knifes, hand grenades, and a couple of Japanese short swords. It was Julian’s weapon of choice, but I preferred to stick with my natural abilities. I’d been practicing my compulsion and my water control seemed to improve every day. It was like a switch had been turned on and I suddenly knew exactly how to manipulate the element with very little effort. The compulsion I would save for a few choice selkies if needed.
As if listening to my internal thoughts, Brendan appeared on the beachside deck and knocked on the door frame. Neither of us acknowledged his presence, so he walked inside and sat down next to Daniel.
“I need to talk to Marisol,” Daniel said and quickly jumped out of his chair then disappeared around the corner. I would thank him for that later.
“Do you need any help?” Brendan asked.
After a full minute of silence, he spoke again. “Abhainn will find her, right?”
I stopped filling the snack bag I was working on and took a deep breath. Do I respond or do I stay silent? I decided to listen to my heart. “Do you really care?”
As though I stabbed a sword through him too, Brendan recoiled in shock. “Of course I care! I love her more than anything in this world!”
“If you truly did love her, you would have left a long time ago.” My voice wavered with anger and a thousand other emotions. Apparently we were going to have this discussion and I wasn’t fully prepared to filter my words.
Brendan jumped to his feet and leaned across the table toward me. “You would have loved that, wouldn’t you? Having her to yourself. Going through with a marriage she never wanted. It would have been perfect for you if I would have stayed in Washington, right?”
“Yes,” I said through gritted teeth. “She would have had a chance to choose me.”
“She always had that chance. I never stopped her.” He moved around the edge of the table so that we were looking at each other eye to eye. I could see the lines around his face and the grey tone of his skin. He looked like hell and I smiled. “What’s so funny?” he snapped.
Ignoring his question, I stared into his eyes. “She doesn’t want you now.”
He sucked in air then turned away from me. “But I need to help her.”
“No, you don’t. We have this under control.”
Barnes and Noble– Not posted yet.
Book Two of The Syrenka Series
By Amber Garr
Life as a mermaid can be suffocating.
Eviana Dumahl has returned home as a clan leader, an orphan, and a heartbroken teenage girl. Her parents are dead and her boyfriend, Brendan, has decided that he needs some time away. While battling her inner turmoil, Eviana is forced into the war that Lucian Sutherland has incited amongst her own kind. With the help of Kain, her friend and formally betrothed, the two work together to prove that they deserve their birthrights as young merfolk leaders.
When The Council requests a demonstration of Eviana’s mermaid powers, she finds herself with an opportunity to win back Brendan’s heart. But her orders to train with a repulsive merman and the presence of an attractive new suitor challenges Eviana to embrace her leadership and resist temptation. Lucian is after her, and no one seems to understand why. Loyalties are tested as the casualties increase, showing Eviana that sometimes it is impossible to delineate between friends and enemies.
I wanted to punch him in the face.
For at least the hundredth time today, I swung my fist towards his infuriating smirk. He easily dodged it, of course, and proceeded to look down at me like a child. “You’re getting closer,” he teased.
Throwing my arms down in frustration, I shook my head. “How am I supposed to learn if you won’t even let me get a hit in?”
He laughed and resumed a fighter’s stance. “How are you supposed to learn if I just stand still and let you pummel me? That’s not ever going to happen in the real world. Now, try with your legs.”
I rolled my eyes and shifted my feet so that my stronger right leg was in front. Ideally, I’d be having this battle underwater where my legs were not an issue.
“Protect your face,” he yelled at me and I lifted my fists up to nose level. I could do this. He’d taught me how to incapacitate my enemies. Just go for the knee.
I faked a few smaller kicks, pretending to hesitate. Then, like a ninja, I struck. The underside of my right foot was directly on target and I expected it to land a perfect hit to the side of his left knee. Only it didn’t happen.
Out of nowhere, he grabbed my ankle and I was suddenly airborne. The world spun around me once before I landed with a thud on my back, effectively knocking the air from my lungs. I even saw some stars floating by. My training sessions were getting harder every day, and after this debacle, I decided that it was time to quit.
A shadow moved above me and I used my hand to block out the rest of the sun. Looking up at his ominous figure I said, “I’m done.”
I heard another laugh rumble through my trainer’s chest as he reached down and grabbed my arm. In one swift motion, he pulled me up off the ground.
“You would have broken my knee with that kick, Eviana. I had to stop you.” I glared at him. “What?” he continued. “I’m not going to let you hurt me. But you did well. I knew that you’d learn eventually.”
I jumped towards him as fast as I could, intending to get him in a choke hold. My arms slipped around his neck, but my body kept rolling over him as he bent forward and used my momentum to toss me towards the ground. In less than two seconds, I was on my back again with a forearm pressing against my throat and my pride seeping away into the dirt.
“Ahh!” I screamed in frustration. The annoying grin on his face told me that I would never beat him in a fair fight. Palmer was my cousin, my trainer, and also one of the numerous protectors now living at my house. We’d been practicing for the past two weeks and although I couldn’t hurt him yet, Palmer reassured me that I was improving.
“Try that one next,” Daniel mumbled through a mouth full of bagel.
“Stop pointing!” I warned him. The three of us were sitting on one of the benches in Bennett’s Park that surrounded the largest playground area. We probably looked young enough that this wasn’t creepy, otherwise the adults would wonder why we stared and laughed at their kids all morning. I felt kind of bad but it was the only way I could practice. “What should I do?”
Daniel tilted his head in thought, and I could see the moment he got some demented idea. “Make him do the chicken dance!” Kain snorted and I agreed with his sentiment.
“Daniel…,” I groaned. “Really?”
“Yes, it’s genius because no one would be suspicious if an adult is dancing for a kid. Plus, you can try to give the command to just one person,” he pointed out.
“Okay, let’s see.” I did my best to block out all background noises and focused in on one of the few fathers who braved the playground scene today. It wasn’t like I could find his mind per se, but that’s what I was trying to do. The more I practiced, the easier it was for me to visualize every individual’s consciousness. I directed my power towards the jumble of thoughts that I figured belonged to the man and pushed the music into his head along with the command to dance. A wave of confusion swept over his face and he stopped fiddling with his daughter’s coat. He stood up and began to sway from side to side.
“It’s working!” Daniel squealed. The man smiled down at his daughter and brought his hands up to his ribs. Flapping his elbows up and down like a bird, he began the chicken dance. I was so excited, I continued to push the command out towards him without realizing that I touched a few other minds as well. Nearly twenty parents and their children began dancing the choreographed steps and I totally lost my concentration.
“Oh crap,” I moaned. Kain and Daniel laughed beside me and I elbowed them both. “Humans are too easy.” I was learning that the power of suggestion on a human’s mind was way more potent than I could handle at this point. Pushing out one command to one person with a little too much force indirectly affected all of those around him. Now half of the playground was wiggling and twisting to an inaudible tune, and Daniel was in hysterics.
“Keep going. This is too good,” he sputtered out in between giggles. I ignored him and yelled Stop! in my head to erase their urge to continue dancing.
Within a few seconds, everyone stopped and looked around in confusion. My friends were laughing loudly and several parents glanced in our direction. But they soon went back to their normal business as though they hadn’t just been part of a flash mob. Mermaid compulsion: got to love it.
“Oh, you’re no fun,” Daniel chided.
I rolled my eyes at him and slumped back against the bench. Sipping the latte we grabbed on the way to the park, I looked around the rest of the scenery and tried to think about nothing. Not an easy task.
“You try it,” Daniel said. At first I thought he was talking to me, but was surprised to see him looking at Kain.
“I don’t think so,” Kain said with an edge.
“No, he’s right. You need to practice too,” I added. Kain had the ability as well, although for some reason mine had jumped from zero to extreme in one evening. His power repertoire was building slowly but he still had the skills necessary to manipulate minds.
“You’re the one they want to see demonstrate,” Kain reminded me.
“So? You’re a leader, too and the more control you have, the more people will respect you.”
Book One of The Syrenka Series
By Amber Garr
Sometimes following your heart can end up destroying the ones you love.
When seventeen-year-old Eviana Dumahl is faced with the responsibility of an arranged marriage and clan leadership, she is forced to choose between the life required of a mermaid and one of a teenage girl simply infatuated with the wrong guy. Kain, her devoted fiancé, would make a wonderful husband except that she’s been in love with Brendan, a shape-shifting selkie, ever since they were kids. Choosing to abandon her family, her clan, and her life with Kain will have dire consequences far beyond anything she could have imagined.
A war is brewing amongst the clans and Eviana unwittingly becomes a pawn in the intricate schemes of a twisted mastermind. With Brendan’s life on the line, she has no choice but to involve those she once considered friends. Amidst encountering senseless tragedies and immense loss, Eviana discovers that she is more valuable as a clan leader than anyone ever suspected. Her survival is not only dependent upon the loyalty of her friends, but also on her acceptance of a life she so adamantly tried to escape
I barely heard her parting words as the screen door slammed shut. My head spun in desperation as the anger coursed through my bones. “Get back in here Eviana!” she continued to scream at me. “We are not finished with this conversation!”
I was already racing down the deck stairs toward the sandy beach, kicking off my shoes and unbuttoning my blouse. We are for now, I thought as my blood boiled with rage and resentment. I was going to be trapped! How dare they? This was not the eighteenth century anymore! I had rights!
I stumbled onto the sand, taking just a brief moment to savor the warmth and the feeling of the grains massaging my toes. My shirt came off and I started to unzip my jeans. No one was around. But I wouldn’t care anyway. The water was calling me and it was the only voice that I could hear now. With one pant leg off, I hopped along in my forward progression until the other one was free. My oasis was so close now that I could taste the salt in the air. The sun broke free of a cloud, stopping me for a moment. It was late afternoon with sunset still a few hours away, but the sky had already turning multiple shades of pink and orange. The coloration reminded me of the inside of a brilliant conch shell.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I knew there would be hell to pay when I returned to the house. Marguerite, my mother, had tolerated my rebellious behavior when I was younger, giving me more freedom and second chances than anyone in our clan. But apparently now, at seventeen, I was an adult. Adult enough to bear children. Adult enough to participate in clan gatherings. Adult enough to navigate our youth through their transition period. But not adult enough to choose who to love.
A slight breeze wafted off the ocean, bringing with it scents that filled my gut with longing. The freedom of the ocean. Why couldn’t I just stay there forever? A gull called overhead, beckoning me to join him. The splashing waves calmed my inner rage as they ebbed and flowed in a hypnotic pattern. A distant moan of a shipping vessel reminded me of our history. I opened my eyes to see that I was standing alone along miles of sandy beach interlaced with large rocks and cliffs emblematic of the northern California coast. So beautiful. I stripped off the rest of my clothes and ran into the ocean.
As soon as I was under the water, I could feel the transition begin. My lower body ached as the bones adjusted from a life on land to one at sea. Both legs began to fuse together and work as one. My foot bones elongated while I prepared for the agony. I was accustomed to the changes now, but it was still a struggle of mind over matter. Breaking through the surface of the water, I grabbed one last breath before the final jolt of pain ravaged through my body. I bit my bottom lip and squeezed my eyes shut, willing the moment to be over. At last I felt an electric tingle move from my hips to my toes as the hardened iridescent, scales appeared on my tail. I opened my eyes to find that the internal transformation was complete as well. My vision cleared. My lungs expanded. I could hear for miles. I was free.
So I swam. I swam away from the shore and the house that I lived in. I swam away from my fears and obligations as though they could disappear with the distance. I would temporarily forget my responsibilities, my duties, and the argument with my mother. In here, I wasn’t trapped. The sea was my true home. I was a mermaid and this was my world.
My swim home was too quick. Lost in the elation of Brendan’s promise, I thought about what I could take with me when I left my home. Maybe one suitcase and my iPod; we could always replace what we couldn’t carry. Would we fly or drive? Where would we go? Brendan had promised to make all of the necessary arrangements soon, but I didn’t know if I could wait to hear his plan.
Night was nearly here and the silhouette of my house looked bleak and menacing. When I reached our backyard stretch of beach, someone was waiting for me. I sighed and picked up my scattered clothing without acknowledging my guest.
“You are in so much trouble this time,” a whiney, nasally voice taunted.
“Shut up, Marisol and mind your own business.” I walked briskly back to the stairs, trying to ignore my sister, but she followed closely at my heels.
“I don’t understand what’s wrong with you. This is what we were born to do and Kain is super rich and totally gorgeous.” She tripped on one of the steps and stumbled into me. I turned with a glare so evil that she stepped away. “He doesn’t deserve you.”
The words were sharp but I knew that they rang true. Kain didn’t deserve someone who couldn’t love him. He was too good and too nice. My sister was right, but that didn’t mean I had to let her know it.
“You don’t even know what you’re talking about Mars,” I snapped at her, using the childhood nickname she loathed. “Just mind your own business for once and leave me alone!”
Stomping up the stairs was probably a mistake. Although I managed to lose one nagging voice, two more were waiting for me at the top. I looked into my parents eyes and could see their growing disappointment. The dark wood deck wrapped entirely around the raised first floor of our house and was large enough to hold a hundred people. But there were only two of them standing there now. They leaned against the railing on the far side with my father holding my mother in front of him in a show of support and unity. I rolled my eyes.
“Told you,” chirped Marisol as she dodged out of the way of my swinging hand.
“Eviana Anne Dumahl. Do not strike your sister.” My father’s harsh command sent chills through my body. I really hated it when he was this mad at me. “And put some clothes on.”
I was standing before them completely naked and soaking wet. Succumbing to the grueling glares, I reluctantly pulled on my blouse using my arms to secure it to my body rather than button it up.
“Where did you go?” my father asked in a lighter tone.
Before I could answer, my mother cut in, “You were with himweren’t you?” She pulled away from my father’s arms and walked toward me with determination. Her long dark hair flowed around her perfectly smooth face. The grace and confidence with which she moved still astounded me.
Without looking into her eyes, I threw back my shoulders and stood my ground. Anything to defy her.
She literally sniffed me. Her nose moved around my neck, my hair, and even my hands. There was no way that I could deny who I’d spent the last few hours with, and I wouldn’t try to anyway.
“I want to be with him. Not Kain.”
My mother tsked at me in disgust and grabbed my face with her hands. She was slightly shorter than me, but her domineering personality was still intimidating. Plus she was squeezing my cheeks pretty hard.
“You will not see that boy again, do you understand? The Matthews have finally agreed to conduct this marriage and you will respect your duties and your family. This is very important to our survival. Can you even begin to comprehend what type of message your behavior is sending?”
I could see the frustration building in her eyes, and before I realized what was happening, my tears spilled over. I pushed her hands away and turned to my father.
“Please, dad. Please! Don’t make me do this!” I waved my arm back toward the house. “Marisol would kill to have the chance to marry Kain and provide him children. Why can’t she just do it?”
“Oh Eviana, please don’t upset yourself like this.” He glided over and wrapped me in an embrace. His warm body and soothing voice kept offering false hope.
“Stop babying her, Charles,” my mother snapped. “She is almost eighteen now. It’s about time she started acting like it.”
Marguerite, my mother and the Dumahl Clan leader, didn’t stop there. “You and I had to endure our marriage when we were much younger than this.” Turning toward me, she continued, “I became a leader when I was your age. I survived. Charles and I survived. And so will you. Stop acting like a spoiled brat and accept your responsibility!”
My mother walked away toward the deck’s edge to regain her composure and my father sighed. I knew what was coming next.
“Eviana, you must do as you are told. Kain is a nice young man with a good family. And from what I can see, he is already quite smitten with you.”
I sobbed out of control. I really did hate to disappoint my father and even my mother sometimes. But this is not the life I wanted. I suddenly realized that I wasn’t crying because I’d have to marry Kain, I was crying because I knew that I had to run away. There was no other choice at this point.
Feigning total defeat, I pulled away and looked up at him. His middle-aged face could pass for someone ten years younger, but the wrinkles around his eyes did little to hide his distress. I’d probably been the cause of most of those lines.
“When is it?” I asked.
Both of my parents looked at me in shock. They shared a glance between them, no doubt trying to figure out if this was a trick. My mother replied hesitantly, “The first of the month.”
Review of the First Book:
Overall, it was pretty entertaining, essentially it was a solid read, even if there were intervals in the story of melodramatic romance that I thought was a little too excessive at times. Other than that, the prose was very lucid, and there really weren’t too many dull moments in the story. Basically, I would recommend it for being something that keeps your attention, and you might very well end up loving it. In conclusion, I thought it was a fairly engrossing read, and would love to read the sequels to see how the author builds upon the story-line introduced in the first novel.
About the Author
Amber Garr spends her days conducting scientific experiments and wondering if her next door neighbor is secretly a vampire. Born in Pennsylvania, she lives in Florida with her husband and their furry kids. Her childhood imaginary friend was a witch, Halloween is sacred, and she is certain that she has a supernatural sense of smell. She writes both adult and young adult urban fantasies and when not obsessing over the unknown, she can be found dancing, reading, or enjoying a good movie.