Author: Amber Garr
Series: Syrenka, #1
Release Date: December 7, 2011
Genre: Romance, Paranormal, YA
Source: Enchanted Book Tours
Buy: Amazon | Smashwords | Goodreads | eStore
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 who 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 that she had so adamantly tried to escape.
Promises is the first book in the Syrenka series, following Evianna and her friends through their growing up in a discrete world that threatens human society by it’s very nature.
Fist, let my oggle the cover a bit. I don’t often say much about the covers but as the topic has been brought up a lot lately, I just have to say I love the cover. It catches the eye and refuses to let go.
I loved all the legends and folklore throughout the story. It made it more real. Eviana is a mermaid while her boyfriend Brendon, is a selkie. Add in a prior engagement, running away, love, life, and . . .
While slightly predictable at first, Amber did a wonderful job of sucking you through each twist and turn, leaving you shocked and desperate for the characters. I eagerly away book 2, Betrayal!
I’ve only read a few mermaid stories, but thankfully, I’ve liked each one. Promises though, is a wonderful story from a debut Indy author that leaves you aching for Eviana and wanting more.
I barely heard her parting words as the screen door slammed shut. My head was spinning 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 towards 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 and the sunset was still a few hours away, but the sky was already turning multiple shades of pink and orange; the coloration reminding me of the inside of a brilliant conch shell.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I knew that there was going to 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 the bottom half of my body. 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. I was lost in the elation of Brendan’s promise and thinking 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 began walking 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 were leaning 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 him weren’t you?” She pulled away from father’s arms and walked towards 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 them?”
I could see the frustration building in her eyes, and before I even realized what was happening, my tears were spilling 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 towards the house. “Marisol would kill to have the chance to marry Kain and provide him children. Why can’t she just do it?” I was hysterical now.
“Oh Eviana, please don’t upset yourself like this.” He glided over to me and wrapped me in an embrace. His warm body and soothing voice kept offering me 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 arranged marriage when we were much younger than this.” Turning towards 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 towards 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 taken with you.”
The sobs were out of control at this point. 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.”
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.