May Contain Spoilers
I love mermaid stories, so when I saw Debbie Herbert’s debut, I had to read it. I really enjoyed Siren’s Secret. It’s told through protagonist Shelly’s POV, as well as that of her love interest, Tillman, and the serial killer, Melkie. I didn’t find Melkie a compelling character, and wish his POV hadn’t been as prominent. While I found Shelly and Tillman engaging, Melkie was too one dimensional for me to find him interesting.
While out for a midnight swim, Shelly witnesses a murderer dumping a body into the sea. He sees her, and stabs her in the tail before she can escape. Now she’s caught in a game of cat and mouse, only the reader doesn’t really know who is the cat and who is the mouse.
I liked Shelly a lot. She’s a half-mermaid, and because of her mixed heritage, she isn’t welcome in the world of the full mer. They view her with contempt, though her cousins Jet and Lily accept her unconditionally. Shelly works as a physical therapist, and she has a terrible crush on the brother of one of her clients. Tillman is the sheriff, and he’s moved back to his small hometown after his father’s death to help his mother care for his autistic brother. While his family obligations make a long-term relationship difficult, he can’t deny his attraction to Shelly. After he starts to get to know her, though, he begins to think that she’s keeping secrets. Boy, is she ever!
With the killer stalking Shelly and her cousins, they hatch a plan to plant evidence and ensure his arrest. They go about it in the most clumsy way possible, casting doubt on themselves instead. I liked Jet’s suggested solution to their problem better; just kill the human and move along. I couldn’t stand Melkie, so Jet’s plan made the most sense to me. It’s not like he would ever repent and become a worthwhile member of society. His collection of insects and eyeballs ensured that I wanted him to meet an appropriately gruesome end, and I was kinda bummed when he got off relatively easy.
I enjoyed the romance between Shelly and Tillman. Shelly’s got a lot of secrets, the biggest being that she’s not quite human. How do you break that to your new boyfriend? Tillman travels along the straight and narrow, so I was doubtful that he would believe her even if she did come clean. Then, how do you tell him that you know who is committing those terrible murders he is trying to solve, without giving up all of your secrets? Like you were out in the middle of the ocean during a nighttime swim when you encountered both the killer and his recently deceased victim? Uhm, nope, no way would Tillman believe that! This lawman has no sense of humor or imagination, so Shelly has her work cut out for her.
The world building is a little light, but I’m hopeful that the mer society will be expanded upon in the next book in the series. With likable protagonists, a slow developing romance, and loads of danger for Shelly to evade, Siren’s Secret is a solid debut that kept me reading from beginning to end. Even Candy Crush failed to divert my attention, and that says a lot!
Review copy provided by publisher
In Debbie Herbert’s debut novel, there are two secrets, each one with a deadly consequence…
Shelly Connors’s worlds—on land and in the sea—are turned upside down when an evening swim turns into a nightmare. On a sweltering night deep in the bayou, the mystical mermaid witnesses a horrifying act. With a monstrous killer now hot on her trail, her life and the lives of her kin are in jeopardy.
Terrified of becoming the next victim, Shelly has no choice but to turn to Sheriff Tillman Angier. Tillman has had his intense gray eyes on the sultry honey-haired beauty for a while. The feelings are mutual…and impossible to ignore. But he’s determined to solve the murders, and he knows Shelly’s hiding something. Can she trust him with her deepest secret?