Intrigued by the "myth" of Atlantis? Always wanted to know more about nymphs? Dying to read a book with a heroine who manages fairly well to resist an irresistible hero?
Then you would love this book. Valerian is the Nymph King, irresistible to all womenkind. I was prepared to dislike Valerian, considering that he starts the book in bed with not one or two women, but three. The sneer arose on my lips at this point, yet I still kept reading. This woman is a good writer. She held my attention, and kept me wanting more. As a reader, I want to have an author give me a premise that keeps me glued to the page. Showalter does this.
Captivated is a good term to use for how I felt. I was captivated because I wanted to hear more about the Nymph King and his nymph warriors. As a lifetime lover of mythology and folktales, I was somewhat familiar with the concept of nymphs. But I realized that I really didn't know all that much about them. This book really explored the nymph myth and filled in the blanks, so to speak.
According to Showalter's vision of nymphdom, it seems that a nymph is absolutely controlled by his or her need for sex. This puts them in a difficult situation if they don't have a sexual outlet. The warriors lose strength and power. And considering their ongoing battle with the dragons for control of Atlantis, this would be a serious disadvantage. Unfortunately, the nymph women have not arrived to their new home in Atlantis, claimed from the dragons, their immortal enemies. The nymph men are weakening daily without sex. Because the nymph king has a greater need for sex, he claims the three humans who unwittingly entered the portal to the surface world prior to the start of the book, and entirely with their permission. As a matter of fact, they are ready and willing for more of his attentions. But Valerian is not selfish. He realizes the importance of fulfilling his nymph army's need for sex. He makes the decision to allow them to go to the surface and claim human women as temporary bedmates. He will get more than he imagined.
Valerian is written convincingly, not just another player out to bed every women he sees. I am definitely not a fan of this kind of hero. But one of the ways that a writer wins my loyalty is through the ability to get me to buy a concept I normally don't like. And Showalter does this. She gives the reader plenty of justification for Valerian's lifestyle. At least he has a reason to be such a sex fiend (unlike way too many romance novel so-called heroes). Furthermore, he is likeable because he really does show a sense of honor and duty to his people and his kingdom (I found it to be quite an interesting twist to have a culture built around the need for sex and plenty, even if it's meaningless).
Shaye Holling is serving as a bridesmaid in yet another of her mother's weddings, and hating every minute of it. She has no belief in love and happily ever after and makes it her goal to push every living being away so that her often broken heart is not injured again. She's seen her mother and her father go from lover to lover, has had a host of sometimes nice and sometimes not nice stepsiblings come and go from her life. And she has determined that being alone is much better than being left again and again. She is so dedicated in her cynicism that she started an Anti-Greeting Card company. Some of the lines that she comes up with are classic!
In the midst of a heated argument with her mother, an army of men of unearthly beauty and masculinity arise from the surf like the goddess Aprhodite. There is one man who is the most captivating of all. They come to conquer. Most of the women make easy conquests, unable and unwilling to resist the seductive pull of the nymphs. She and one other women are the only ones to resist (and her story is very interesting, but you'll have to read the book to find out). But Valerian sees the slender, white-blonde with dark eyes, and recognizes his true mate. There is no way he's not taking her. Even against her will.
Then begins a battle of wits, sense against sensibility. A woman's fight to resist an incredible passion for the man who can have any woman, but wants only her. But he's not about to take an unwilling woman. She has to be his of her own volution, although he's not going to let her leave him.
I enjoyed these "battle scenes," if you will. I also enjoyed the new twist on Greek and Atlantean mythology, with a variety of mythical beings thrown in. And heck, I've always been in love with the ocean, and it was really cool to get a vision of life under the sea. (Growing up Splash was one of my favorite movies because I was obsessed with mermaids). Also, I liked that for once the heroine actually does put up a fight and doesn't instantly fall into bed with the so-called irresistible hero. And this is even more fun because he's truly (and magically) irresistible to women. The great thing about it is that Shaye has to work really hard to fight the temptation to surrender to her desires. It's not half-hearted on her part. She's fighting to keep her heart from being broken when he tires of her and moves onto more interesting prey. It brings the battle to another level. It's refreshing change for me. It can be really annoying to read book after book where the heroine has absolutely no resistance to the hero, even knowing that he's bad for her. She loves him so much that she simply must lie down like a doormat and allow her heart to be walked on.
It's hard to say what captivated me so much, but I think part of it is the snappy, often hilarious dialogue, the interesting plot twists, lets face it, the numerous hot men, including nymphs, dragons, and vampires, and the mythology. And also Atlantis is an intriguing idea, and I like what Showalter does with it.
There is a lot of sex going on in this book, most of it between other partners and the best scenes between Shaye and Valerian. After all, it's absolutely essential to their wellbeing. :) Before and after battles, the nymphs must have sex and lots of it. And they're not picky about having it in public places. I couldn't even imagine walking around minding my own business and seeing couples having sex all around me. This is what Shaye is around, knowing that she had to resist with all her heart.
Most definitely, this book is spicy and sensual but hasn't left behind the heart of romance, the story of love between one woman and one man. That's the most seductive part of this book is that pure and simple love story. And it's great when you read an author who hasn't forgotten that.
I'm definitely going on a hunt for the other books in the series....and soon!