After closing the book all I can do is sit here and ride the last emotional waves of my first experience with a novel from Joey W Hill? At the beginning of The Mermaid's Kiss I had to get a feel for the author's voice, I didn't instantly "get" what she was going for with Jonah and Anna. Jonah was "My Lord" and Anna was "Little One" and it confused me until I picked up on a subtle and oh so natural Dominant/submissive synergy going on between the two main protagonists. It is never defined, nor explicitly described by Hill but for me suddenly things fell in to place and I could surrender myself to the story as it is told.
Because with each chapter read I fell more and more for the characters and world this author created. A Mermaid's Kiss is not a story you would want to read for the extensive thrilling action, nor for the rich abundance in world building, and I will honestly say that this kind of storytelling is an acquired taste. Still, the love story is of such an exquisite quality it just knocked me off my feet with its ending. What I received was two people thrown together where the circumstances lead them to go on a quest of the heart and soul. I cannot see it any different way. Jonah is the tormented, wary Prime Legion Commander of the Lady and when wounded in a battle with the Dark Ones he falls into the ocean to escape them. Anna finds him sinking to the depths of the ocean and rescues him and brings him to a cave so he can heal from the wing torn from his shoulder.
Familiar fairytale story up till now, right? Still, any resemblance of a Disney story ends right there because A Mermaid's Kiss is far more dark since Anna is destined to die at the tender age of twenty-one. A curse bestowed upon her by Arianne, the original mermaid who loved her prince but never got him in the end. It is far more intricate as Jonah battles his inner demons. The journey Anna and Jonah undertake on land not only speaks of the erotic pull between them with the Joining Magic but also of faith, perception, wisdom, healing and the knowledge of their impossible love. These aspects give the romance such depth and it grows with each moment spent together, with each conversation and with each page I read. Every separate thread would lead to a conclusion that would make this an unforgettable read for me.
Because the story was so condensed in a character and emotion driven aspect I really connected with Jonah's internal struggles. The questions why he still battled the Dark Ones after so many centuries? Why did he still wanted to fight for the Lady when it was a never ending cycle. What was the point in the end? All his emotions came across with a desperation that made him feel so real and made him so realistic in his actions. The quest revolved around the salvation of a powerful angel and this is where Anna comes in to play.
Opposite Jonah there is Anna. She is haunted by the knowledge she will die at a very young age. It makes her wise beyond her years but it does not prevent her from finding beauty in the oceanic world. An outsider from the mer-people but not without an unusual friendship with Mina, another outcast. She is gentle, kind, loving, inquisitive and has a backbone when she needs to stand up for her believes. Where Jonah is lost and feels desolate, Anna counters it with such a believe within him, such joy and living in to the moment. She emanates such faith that he will do what is righteous and all she wants is for him to soar the skies again in all his angelic power and splendor.
Two very strong characters in their own way and with the lyrical and poised prose it often just threw me in to the emotion of the moment. That is the true strength of this author; the ability to touch upon such a range of emotions. Another hallmark essence of this author is the provocative sensuality which at times gave my imagination a stretch in the erotically charged scenes. Though never overly explicate in the descriptions she can conjure a very vivid carnal picture in the mind's eye. I loved Jonah and Anna together in human form, Hill made the passion between Jonah and Anna in mermaid form believable but I had a bit of trouble picturing Anna as a pixie riding herself on the hardened male flesh of Jonah. That moment gave my imagination a stretch and I was glad it only happened once.
With the larger part of the story focused on Anna and Jonah there were just a few supporting characters who were equally well drawn. Mina is Anna's best friend and a result of a coupling between a Dark One and a mermaid. On various occasions Mina's choices are very important to tell the story and there is a frail but undeniable connection between her and David. David is the human made angel, Lucifer is the Lord of the Underworld and along with the Lady they established a solid perception of Heaven and Hell. Combine it with the Dark Ones, the human world, the lore of how everything came to be and it all connected to give credibility to a religion where Hell is a place for redemption and atonement rather than a place for eternal damnation.
As the journey on land continues for Jonah and Anna they meet various people who each have something to say, which in the end has an underlying wisdom to it. The journey as a whole, the healing of Jonah's wing, the conversations and experiences that they both have, the love they create, it all leads to a conclusion that struck a chord with me. Every aspect of this tale, from the dark and erotic fairytale vibe, the intricate characters to get to know, to the mesmerizing writing I can say Joey W Hill already did it for me. What lifted it to greater heights was the ending, those last 60-70 pages. Throughout the story my emotions were engaged on a steady level, keeping me involved in all aspects of the romance and internal struggles of the main couple. But I found out that was just to prepare me for such an emotion steeped ending it constricted my throat with the intensity of my feelings. All the individual storylines came together; whether or not Jonah could restore his faith within himself and what he was, Anna not wanting to die without hope, Mina whose friendship is as quirky as her persona, to a battle between the Angels and the Dark Ones that made them risk it all.
While the solution to Anna's problem wasn't inventive it disintegrated in the whirlwind of the emotions I felt. Every emotion felt by the characters translated in to the actions that transpired in that final battle. It spoke of everything I wanted to see victorious in a erotic paranormal romance; The good clashing with the bad, the love risking it all, the friendship aiding for a good outcome and where a higher purpose is served. I gained it all with the unique characters, world and storytelling of Joey W Hill.
A Mermaid's Kiss; what started out with the love for a cover and the interest piqued with its synopsis turned out to be an enthralling and emotionally powerful read.