Daughters of Arianne Book Three
A story of two lovers who could not be more different.
Daughter to an angel and a mermaid, Alexis has grown up in peaceful waters. So when her nightmares begin, the mer-angel has little idea what to make of them. In her dream is the loneliest man Alexis has ever met - and she's strangely drawn to him. Until the night her dream comes true.
Born of a vampire and a Dark One, Dante only knows brutality. And although he's the leader of the underworld, he longs to escape it. How better than to hold for ransom the Prime Legion Commander's daughter? But there's one thing Dante never planned on - the way Alexis steals his heart.
Genre: Erotic Paranormal Romance
Cover Thoughts: Stunning. Absolutely stunning. You can't see them very well in this image, but the male model has a pair of the most sensual lips. *shudders* And I love how the artist showed Alexis, the heroine, in her mer-angel form. This has to be one of the most beautiful book cover releases this year. I love it.
Single Title/Series: A MERMAID'S RANSOM is book three in Joey W. Hill's Daughters of Arianne series but can easily be read as a stand alone novel.
Why I Read It: I have literally been panting after this book since I first saw the cover. Plus, I'm beyond in love with the series and this next installment was a must have.
A MERMAID'S RANSOM is not an easy read by any means but it is perhaps the lightest of the three series installments in Joey W. Hill's Daughters of Arianne Series. I don't mean that it's light in tone because that's certainly not the case, instead, the lightness I'm describing can be contributed entirely to the heroine, Alexis. She is perhaps the most human of all the series characters and her sarcastic wit isn't acerbic but funny and comforting and therefore she becomes a much needed breath of relief. Like a comical relief moment in a dark drama, Alexis provides a tension release moment where the reader can take a breath and process the dark and gruesome undertone of the novel. In addition, her tangible humanity makes her very easy to relate to and her all encompassing love reaches out to the reader and provides comfort for the rocky journey ahead with these two amazing but radically different characters. In short, Alexis provides a very necessary balance of light to what could have otherwise been a dark and horrifying read.
A rare being known as a mer-angel, Alexis inherited the angel and mermaid traits of her parents, Jonah and Anna, the hero and heroine of series installment one - A MERMAID'S KISS. You can see a beautiful reflection of Alexis's unique form on the novel's cover. In addition, like all the Daughters of Arianne that have come before her, Alexis has the ability to shift from her mer-angel form to human. And while her beauty is an inevitable draw, its Alexis's angelic aura and her undeniable essence of goodness that both draws and repels people making for a lonely existence. Lastly, she's been gifted and cursed with a strong empathic ability that requires learned and fortified filters to keep her from being completely bombarded by the emotions of others. If left unchecked or in moments of great stress, Alexis can be rendered nearly catatonic by the emotional pressure. However, this gift proves invaluable when it comes to the hero who would have otherwise never been given chance.
For sixty some odd years, Dante has been trapped in the gruesome landscape of the Dark One world. Known as a Dark Spawn, Dante's vampire mother was captured, tormented and raped repeatedly by Dark Ones. She conceived, birthed, and guided Dante as best she could, all the while being chained and abused until her mind, crippled from the abuse, gave out and she imparted the last of her soul's memory to Dante. Living his life in fear and as a scavenger, Dante was a repeated mark to torment by the Dark Ones. Beaten and sodomized within an inch of his life on a regular basis, Dante learned that in order to survive one had to do it by any means necessary. The Dark One world revolves around death and destruction where the weak is preyed upon and the strong become powerful through fear and violence. This was the environment that Dante was born in, matured in and eventually, through a will of iron - ruled.
After the epic Mountain Battle, Mina - Dark Spawn and heroine of A WITCH'S BEAUTY - destroyed the rifts that allowed the passage of Dark Ones to Earth and thus eternally closing the window that Dante had to the world he should have been born into. For twenty years he's maimed, killed and learned the magical skills to dominate and rule the Dark One world. Breathing solely to find a way to escape, Dante infiltrates Alexis's dreams and binds her to him with with his vampire nature. Pulling her through a blood-soaked dream portal, Dante captures Alexis with the plan to ransom her for his release from the Dark One world. However, he didn't plan on the impact the little mer-angel would have on a heart he never knew he possessed.
Dante is a highly unconventional hero. Hell, it can even be argued that he isn't a hero at all. He's a deep dark festering pit of rage and violence. A being of no morals and no idea of right verses wrong. There is only survival and it's key for the reader to be reminded time and again of the environment that he was born into for it has molded his soul almost exclusively with darkness. Alexis, the only being that can truly sense the state of Dante's emotions, is his only champion. Deep within him she glimpses a flame of light that has surprisingly been nourished and protected with little to no guidance. Alexis sees his potential and she also feels very strongly a deep-seeded bond that resonates within her own soul as well as Dante's. This light is the only thing that saves Dante not only from Alexis's powerful family but from reader rejection as well. Dante is not a good person and he proves this time and again but with the help of Alexis, the reader finds the desire to believe along with her that Dante can be good. That he has all the tools to better himself, he just needs a guide.
In all honesty, Dante will not be for everyone. His sociopathic tendencies and deadly quick temper could put a damper on reader enjoyment. In my opinion, Hill did an excellent job reminding the reader on a consistent basis that Dante's life has been unconventional to say the least. The reader can't necessarily expect him to know and understand morals and values that we take for granted while living in our modern and civilized society. It's also very evident that Dante's road to his soul's salvation is no where near complete by the end of the novel. While he knows that Alexis loves him, he can't say with all honesty that he loves her. He wants to love her very desperately but he hasn't yet come to fully understand the concept. He's never known love so how can he be able recognize it within his own heart?
This novel would never have worked without Alexis. She's a pure and loving soul and was probably a joy to write because she's so forthcoming. Her heart is worn boldly on her sleeve and she's incredibly strong in both mind and spirit. It's because of this that I fear that like Jonah, her father, I can't necessarily say that Dante deserved her but I'm happy he has her. He'd certainly be lost without her and more than likely dead. Thankfully that was a lesson that Dante did learn. He knows that Alexis deserves more and I truly think he'll strive his damnedest to provide for her exactly what she needs.
I'll admit that I grappled endlessly with my rating of this novel. Dante's evolution from a violent murderer and kidnapper to a being of workable restraint was amazing but his journey is no where near complete. The crimes that he has been called to pay for are horrendously steep and it's very possible that he'll never atone for the wrongs he's committed. Knowing all this, I couldn't shake the feeling that the Happily Ever After was bittersweet and more than a little heartbreaking. So much growth is still needed that I feel the ending was more of a beginning for Dante and Alexis with an outcome that may never be attained. However, after reading the end again I feel that there really can be no other way. That to change anything would have been a great disservice to all the progress made thus far and I've therefore come to respect and ultimately appreciate Hill's end decision.
A MERMAID'S RANSOM is a controversial read in more ways then one. Some will hate it and others will love it with few in between. With regards to my own personal experience, I happened to love it.