Thursday, March 24, 2016

Shira Anthony - Stealing the Wind

Taren Laxley has never known anything but life as a slave. When a lusty pirate kidnaps him and holds him prisoner on his ship, Taren embraces the chance to realize his dream of a seagoing life. Not only does the pirate captain offer him freedom in exchange for three years of labor and sexual servitude, but the pleasures Taren finds when he joins the captain and first mate in bed far surpass his greatest fantasies.
Then, during a storm, Taren dives overboard to save another sailor and is lost at sea. He’s rescued by Ian Dunaidh, the enigmatic and seemingly ageless captain of a rival ship, the Phantom, and Taren feels an overwhelming attraction to Ian that Ian appears to share. Soon Taren learns a secret that will change his life forever: Ian and his people are Ea, shape-shifting merfolk… and Taren is one of them too. Bound to each other by a fierce passion neither can explain or deny, Taren and Ian are soon embroiled in a war and forced to fight for a future—not only for themselves but for all their kind.

Comment: I probably got this book because of the cover and the idea of two gay mermen having a relationship. The book has been one of those languishing in the pile but I thought it would be a great read for this month and here it is...

This is the story of Taren, a young man whose life changes when he starts working alongside other men at a ship. However, Taren is there because he was taken as a slave by the ship's captain with the hope of, one day, being able to win his freedom and get a new life.
But there is one problem one day and tying to rescue a fellow mate, he is thrown overboard and eventually, is saved by another ship, whose captain also has a strange allure to Taren and vice-versa. But with so many mysteries surrounding not only this new captain and his homeland, can Taren find a place to belong at last? 

I think this story is quite original.At least to me. It's likely that other mermen stories exist out there and perhaps older than this one but this is the first one I read with this subject. I was curious to see if there was a specific world or if the mermen were more alike selkies, meaning, having a human and sea life apart...
After having read this I can't really say because the world building isn't very captivating. I think not enough is explained, especially for a first thing and more so if one considers that readers might not get to following titles. The setting is always very interesting, in my opinion, because characters are always moving around and there's not a real structure of the plot I could follow. I think the idea is good, but the execution felt shorter than what I expected.

The characters obviously are the stronger part of the whole thing, in particular Taren and Ian, the two mermen in focus here. There are some explanations about the existence of mermen, of supposedly behaviors they should have, rules they should abey but, as we don't see them interact in a well established mermen setting, I can't really say if I like their world or not. Based on this book alone, I think things are too spread out that I felt the lack of specifics. Taren is the key character because we sort of learn alongside him when he knows about mermen and how they can exist and so on, but to be relaly honest I never really empathized with him.
Ian, a character more used to his mermen status and more confident has a certain appeal I enjoyed but then his relationship with Taren never really became something I could look for to read about. I don't think there's enough development in their story here.

The plot is mostly about Taren's learning about mermen and his wish to return to the life he knew and, of course, his conflicted feelings about the ship where he used to be and Ian, someone he feels attracted and connected to. Like I said, I just didn't feel much structure in their romance nor in the mermen's struggles or rules or state of being...movement and moving along is very necessary for a story to become captivating but if we never really feel what we're reading and why should it matter...
The story is divided into three main parts if I can call them that, separated by a passage of time, so we get Taren as a child, Taren before the first ship and starting there, and Taren after getting used to it and the crew. Then the real plot begins. This constant change of scenes and time frames isn't very appealing, one thing is having a prequel to set up things but to keep moving things we have glimpses of scenes but not real development, so...not the best tactic I think.

I can understand why many have enjoyed this book, and I don't think it's bad but like others who considered this not as amazing, I feel the lack of romance was part of it too. Taren and Ian never really connect, never really grow in their feelings, everything happens in a way that's not romantic or done well enough to convince us they had some say by being reluctant to develop feelings...and when they say they do I didn't believe in it. 

After having read and finished this book, I really don't feel very interested in reading more. It's a pity this doesn't feel more complete, better done although I suppose I would have liked it more that way, but as it is, I think I'll stop here. This was OK, interesting parts, scenes concepts, but the way things were presented wasn't very thrilling to me. This was the first book I've read by the author, nothing bad about her writing, just not very appealing to me...
Grade: 5/10

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