Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mermaids In Romance?

I'm not hallucinating about pirate ships today, (lol) but while laying on the beach I started staring at a rocky knoll peeking up from the ocean and got to thinking it would be a nice spot for a mermaid to surface and sun herself. Mermaids have always held a certain fascination for me, maybe it is their link with mysticism and magic and who really knows what sort of creatures hide undiscovered in the ocean's depths?

My initial exposure to mermaids in literature was as a child reading the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale “The Little Mermaid”, first published in 1837. The fable tells the story of a young mermaid who lives in an underwater kingdom with her father, the sea king; her grandmother; and her five elder sisters. The Little Mermaid is allowed to swim to the surface to observe the world above when she turns 15 and falls in love with her prince when she sees him aboard a ship. She then saves him from near drowning when he is thrown into the sea during a storm. The Little Mermaid’s grandmother offers her a potion that gives her legs in exchange for her voice that is like a sirens song. It is a sad tale with no HEA for The Little Mermaid but has provided the foundation for many stories in romance.

Years later I became enthralled with Greek mythology and read Homer’s “Iliad and The Odyssey”, which in part tells the story of Ulysses and the Sirens who were three dangerous bird women that lured nearby sailors with their enchanting, seductive songs to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. The Sirens of Greek mythology have evolved over time and are occasionally portrayed as fully aquatic mermaid like creatures.

Mythical mermaids in today's erotic paranormal, and in paranormal romance, are characterized as sensual, beautiful and willowy creatures who can change to human form on land. In many stories they can only exist for a short period of time before having to return to the sea. Relating back to the sirens of Greek mythology, they often have beautiful lyrical voices when speaking, and singing. The heroes of romance stories are inexorably drawn to a mermaid’s inherent sensuality and grace and I think these mystical creatures make for great characters in romance, scribed by a good author’s imaginative pen. Certainly there is plenty of conflict to work with. How would a human and a mermaid coexist in our world and build a relationship?

I did some digging with respect to “mermaids in romance”, and found, that many of the stories are about human women posing as mermaids, not about an actual human/mermaid or merman relationship. However, more recently Joey W. Hill has written a series of novels, “The Daughters of Arianne”, which includes “A Mermaid’s Kiss”, “A Witch’s Beauty”, and “A Mermaid’s Ransom.” Hill creates a world of protagonist mermaids and angels and antagonist ‘dark ones’ integrating a sub-plot of a never ending war in her signature unusual romances. Joey W. Hill is known for her rich prose and BDSM themes and her mermaid series is no exception. I’ve read the first two stories in this series and found the relationships she crafts between the angelic warrior heroes and mermaid heroines quite spellbinding.

Some readers express difficulty with explicit sexual intimacy regarding mermaids, and certainly many of us have “walls” in erotic literature. Admittedly there is something about ‘fish sex’ that might cause a reader’s "squee-o-meter" to hit the red zone. However if you are comfortable with a light BDSM theme in erotic romance, IMHO it is fitting within the context of Joey W. Hill’s series, considering the H&H are mythical paranormal creatures. In addition, I felt, Hill crafted the intimate scenes extremely well.

In August 2010, Devyn Quinn’s first novel in her “Dark Tides”, series will be released entitled “Siren’s Call”. Quinn builds a world where mermaids as a species are on the verge of extinction and the few that are left are assimilating with humans, having learned early to hide their abilities from the world’s probing eyes. Coupled with their anonymity mermaids have lost memories of their culture and ability to wield considerable magic. The feisty mermaid heroine of "Siren's Call", rescues a human who is bent on his own destruction from the certain death in the sea. This brings about a series of surprising events, and sets the stage for the future books in the series. Devyn Quinn’s prose and graphic imagery is lush and beautifully crafted.

What about you? Do you like mermaid stories in romance? If yes, any particularly memorable ones that come to mind? What about mermen, any stories that you have read and enjoyed? How about a m/m romance with mermen?

References used for this post: Siren - Monster of the week by Chris Disario.
Romance Novels - Mermaid Page
Wikipedia: Sirens

Tori and I are back for the last day of our visit to DIK tomorrow and if you have a moment stop by for a peek at what for me was a fun post. ;)

Have a great day everyone! I’m enjoying an excellent read and a cold drink with a little umbrella stuck in it. What are those umbrellas for anyway?


Sullivan McPig said...

The book that comes to mind is 'Fortune's Fool' by Mercedes Lackey which is a combination of the Little Mermaid tale and other fairytales which she molded into a new shape.

KC Burn said...

I'm a fan of MaryJanice Davidson's mermaid romance series (I think Sleeping with the Fishes was the first in the series).

And let me tell you - someone decided when I was 8 (& attending a birthday party) that reading the original "The Little Mermaid" to us would be a good idea. I'm scarred for life! It was so depressing!

I shall have to check out the Joey W. Hill series - sounds pretty cool and mermaids are a fascinating subject.

Anonymous said...

Living on the East Coast and knowing what it smells like at low tide when the dead fish, crabs etc are littering the beach I have to say "fish sex" is not appealing to me at all.

I admit, I skip all the books with mermaids and selkies etc, because I can't get the fish stink out of my head or the scales, sea weed, and sand stuck in places you don't want sand.
It's just too much for me to enjoy any sort of romance story with sea creatures - it just doesn't work for me on any level I am sorry to say - though I did enjoy "The Little Mermaid" Disney movie!



Michelle Greathouse said...

Wonderful post. :)

The only mermaid series I've read is MJD's - and that is on the lighter side. She is able appear human until wet - then she gets her tail. LOL ( re-reading that sentence...hmmm, sounds a bit suggestive ).

I have a couple of series on the shelf about merpeople - I may need to bump them up the list. :) Your post has me curious.


Kati said...

Nope, nope, nope. I'm one of those readers whose "squick factor" is quite exercised regarding mermaid sex. In fact, I had a whole blog post about it.

That being said, I think Joey W. Hill walks on water when it comes to writing. But after reading Mermaid's Kiss, I passed on the rest of the series. *shudder*

Eva S said...

Hi Lea,
great post! I like mermaids, I'm in the middle of A Witch's Beauty right now and the third book in the series is on my wishlist.
One of my favorites is The Last Mermaid by Shana Abé.
And I've never thought about fishes, I just enjoy fairy tales.

Cecile Smutty Hussy said...

Hey Lea, I am just dropping in to say HI to you my friend!!! Miss you!
From the looks of it, all is well for you!!!
Hope it continues to go well for you!

Blodeuedd said...

I am finally going to get to read about some mermaid loving thanks to Joey W Hill, looking forward to that

Lea said...

Hey Sullivan:

I've heard of 'Fortune's Fool' but haven't had the opportunity to read it. Sounds like a great story, you have me intrigued!

Thanks for your note. *g*

Hi KC:

I've not heard of Mary Janice Davidson's series - another I will have to put on my list. (It now stretches to the other side of the world - but thats okay. lol)

As for "The Little Mermaid" fairy tale - I agree 100%, it was so very sad. At least Disney turned it into a happy tale, thankfully.

Thanks so much for your comment KC! Great to see you here. ;)

Hey Ms.M!

Oh no! No mermaid stories for you! LOL There are certain scenes and characters in literature that provoke unpleasant responses for me too and I avoid them at all cost. Our leisure reading is supposed to be about relaxation and enjoyment, not - yikes - rotting fish smells. lol

Thanks for stopping by Ms. M.!!


Thank you so much! I've read a couple of mermaid stories where water is the catalyst for them to change from human to sea creature too. It does make for great conflict don't you think?

Let me know if you read any other good ones from your TBR. I'll watch for reviews on your blog.

Thanks again Michelle!

Hi Katie!

Thanks for taking time to stop by and comment again today, I really do appreciate it. I'm going to look up your blog post about mermaid sex, I would love to read your thoughts.

I hear you about Ms. Hill's Mermaid series. I mentioned it to some of my blogger friends and the first book was a DNF for some. Others liked it and read the rest of the series. However, she did breech my wall with her Vampire Queen series. I read the first book and at first wept and then grieved for Jacob, the hero of the novel. The second book was a no go for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed a couple of her contemporary stories though. Don't you find she is an author that can really provoke a visceral response in readers?

Thanks again Katie!

Lea said...

Hi Eva!

Glad to hear you are enjoying Joey Hill's mermaid series. I really liked Mina, she is such a curmudgeon and Hill doesn't change her prickly personality in the the novel which I really appreciated.

I have the third novel on my TBB too. Maybe soon. ;)

Thanks again Eva!

Hi Cecile!

Thanks for your nice note, things are okay, just busy with family right now. I'll stop by soon.

I hope you are well too. ;)

Hey B:

Thanks for your note! If you check the link you can read a synopsis of the books at Joey W. Hill's site. VampFanGirl reviewed all three at her blog. I reviewed the first one. So you can get a pretty good idea of what the stories entail.

Thanks again B!

Have a great day everyone!

Heather D said...

I too enjoyed Disney's Little Mermaid, actually it is one of my favorites! I haven't really read many books with mermaids, or any fishy related creatures for that matter. One mermaid book that comes to mind is Mystic Guardian by Patricia Rice. Mariel is half human and half mermaid. She lives well enough on land but must be near the water. I also have read a selkie book, Lord of the Deep by Dawn Thompson. I guess that is the extent of my "fishy" reading.

Tracy said...

What a wonderful post, Lea! I really think the idea of mermaids is a good one but the actual stories are not something that draw me. Of course I like a good romantic comedy movie involving a mermaid (Splash) but not so much in books.

I think it was Katiebabs that sent me JWH's Mermaid's Kiss a while back and it's still on my shelf - I just haven't been able to make myself read it.

Chris said...

What about the mermen?! Some examples are

Soul Song (Dirk & Steel #6) by Marjorie M. Liu


Virginia Kantra's Children of the Sea series

Smokinhotbooks said...

Ever since the Disney Movie Little Mermaid I've been hooked.

My first mer-book was by Kaitlyn O'Connor called Below. Twas awesome - the merman were oil dwellers under the sea and were considered sub-human species. I also enjoyed Mary Janie Davidson's Fred series.

LesleyW said...

I don't have a squick factor regarding mermaid sex scenes. But I don't have any interest in reading about them as a paranormal creature. They've just never really appealed to me as heroines.

Nicola O. said...

But Chris, neither of those are actually mer-men, they're shifters of a sort. Liu's is a dolphin (I think?) and Kantra's are selkies.

I admit I have a hard time thinking of a seal as a sexy creature. :o

Not romance, but Poul Anderson had some neat stories of merfolk (The Merman's Children) and Josie Litton's trilogy a while back was kind of Atlantean. Though like Alyssa Day's Atlantis series, I don't think there are any fish-tails involved. (eww)

Chris said...

Close enough for me. :) Although, yeah, I usually have trouble finding selkies sexy...

Mary G said...

I always felt sorry for mermaids because I thought they couldn't have sex LOL. Now I read that they can have a human form. Being married to Mr. National Georgraphic, I've seen just about every creature procreate so I'm not queasy about the fish sex. It would only freak me out if one of them stayed as a fish. Kind of reminds me of that line from Ever After. "A bird can love a fish but where would they live?"

Lea said...

Hey Heather:

I have very fond memories of the Disney movie too, because my kids were little and watched it multiple times. I still remember the "Kiss thee Girl" scene vividly! I have to admit my "mermaid" reading is fairly limited as well so it's been great to get all the suggestions today. *g*

Thanks Heather!

Hi Tracy!

Thank you! I loved, loved "Splash", great young Tom Hanks flick. I know, Mermaid stories certainly aren't for everyone. LOL I think you would have to really be in the mood for "A Mermaid's Kiss" otherwise it would not be an enjoyable read at all.

Thanks again Tracy!


I can always count on you for the linkity goodness. I should have consulted you before I wrote this post. Live and learn! Thanks, I knew there would be mermen books out there.

Thanks again.. ;)

Hey there Smokinhotbooks: I've not heard of "Below" it sounds like another good one though and I'll have to add it to my list.. "The Little Mermaid" was such a great movie!

Thank you so much for your note!

Hi Lesley: You are certainly not alone. I don't think mermaids have an appeal for every reader. Maybe it is something about the 'fish factor'. LOL However, I know folks who don't care for shifters period so there you go.

Thanks so much for your comment!

Lea said...

Hey Nicole!

Wow, dolphin shifters? Cool. I think I must check Liu's book out. I'm not too sure about the whole Selkie thing they are kinda like mer people aren't they?

Thanks for your other suggestions as well and for stopping by!

LOL Chris: Yeah, I don't know about finding fish sexy either.. lol

Hey Mary:

You are so right, that is the whole conflict with the human / mermaid union in Devyn Quinn's series. However her mer's are human the majority of the time. They "shift" as it were as soon as they hit the shore so she integrates it very well.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mary!

Have a great evening everyone!

Kris said...

Fish sex?? Icky. Thank God I've finished my first cup of coffee. :)

I used to be quite a fan of mermaid stories - I went by myself to the see The Little Mermaid when it came out. I was in my late teens. :) - but I find that I've gone off them now. Not sure why. Something to ponder.

Unknown said...

Hi Lea!

I too read the Little Mermaid and was destroyed when the little mermaid didn't get HEA, in fact has the worse sort of ending, but Disney made it all better, lol.

The only mermaid stories I've read are MaryJanice Davidson's Mermaid Series, Fred the fish stories, lol, mermaid tale where the mermaid can live on land and in the water. I have Joey Hill's series sitting in my TBR stack somewhere and one day, I will have time to read it.

I've always been a little enthrall by the mermaid who takes unwary sailors with their song into the ocean depths never to be seen again. Spooky and sensual all at the same time.

Thanks for a great topic!

Dottie :)

Mitzi H. said...

I don't remember ever reading a book about a mermaid or a merman. I just bought A Mermaid's Kiss by Joey Hill but haven't read it yet. I did like the movie Splash and think there is lots of potential for more of those type stories.

Abbie said...

I love MJD's Fred series. Another good one is PC Cast's Goddess of the Sea. Technically, I guess the heroine isn't officially a mermaid, but she swaps bodies with one. No icky fish sex either. All sex is in human form. ;)

Alexander said...

Hi just bumped on your blog post about mermaids... I too am quite fascinated about the mermaid "concept" and recently have been discussing with a friend of mine who is a painter to make a painting (2 pieces)...

1 piece will involve a shore with three little boats made of paper... one will be floating and the other two appear to be washed ashore... this is somehow a symbolism of Odyssey...

2nd piece will involve a mermaid (no tail fish however) being underwater... I will try to give this mermaid a femme fatale look... perhaps the look of a siren or some sort...

About a mermaid story, being a Greek I was taught in mythodology about the sister of Alexander the great, Thessaloniki.. So the legend goes, she swims the seas and when she finds a ship, she asks the captain "Is Alexander Alive?"


Take care

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