*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: When Callie Pierce turns 18 she has three very simple goals: avoid her stepfather, escape to an Ivy League university of her dreams, and party with her friends. But on a night like any other, when the moon is full over the ocean, her life changes in a way that no one could have ever seen coming.
On the sandy beaches of San Diego she meets Orion, a man from whom she cannot stay away and to whom her return becomes as inevitable as the tide kissing the shore. If that isn’t enough, a kiss which changes everything plunges Callie head first into a world of mythic responsibility, epic danger, and heart stopping romance.
The mer, an ancient race of warriors brought forth to defend the seas, show her wonders beyond what is humanly possible, forcing her into an archaic chain of events that bring together power, seduction, violence, and beauty in a terrifying, yet exhilarating mix. Then there’s the Banished to contend with, a group of Psirens corrupted by the ocean’s abyss that stand to destroy the eternity Callie has been promised.
Will she sacrifice herself for the greater good, or is the gravity that pulls her to Orion just too great to bear?
The Kiss That Killed Me is the first book in a mermaid fantasy romance and creates an entirely new underwater mythology, different from the traditional mer-tales.
Callie, the main character, begins the story as a standard teenage girl, worrying about school, boys and catty friends. She has a few more problems than some, as her stepfather seems to actively hate her, and appears to have somehow brainwashed her mother to the point that she has become a different person and is willing to cast her previously-loved older daughter adrift.
It’s not all gloomy for Callie though, as she bumps into a gorgeous and mysterious stranger on the beach, who seems as instantly enamoured of her as she is of him. Until he kisses her and she wakes up dead.
Or not. The kiss marks a complete switch in the story, as Callie discovers she is a dormant mermaid and had just required ‘activation’ to claim her mer heritage. Oh, and her soul mate. In Kristy Nicolle’s fascinating new mythology, the mer are not born but are chosen by a goddess, and each is merely one half of a soul, seeking his or her mate to complete them. The other half need not be of the opposite gender, or even a lover at all… just a truly loved one; the two fated to be together.
We also find out how the mysterious Orion was able to be on land to meet Callie; how merfolk fund their lives above and below the waves; that they can have unique powers, and what happens when mer turn to the dark side. So much thought and detail has gone into the worldbuilding here, and it is clear that there is more to explore.
My one niggly criticism about the story was the repeated refrain that Callie is ‘not like other girls’, all other girls are jealous of her and boys lust after her, but she doesn’t know why because she doesn’t see how beautiful and special she really is. I can’t even really call it a criticism though, because just as I was getting a little exasperated with the trope, the author cleverly wrote explanations for most of the above into her mer-mythology! The only aspect not covered was Callie’s insecurities, and they didn’t need to be, because with her new physical attributes Callie really came into her own, becoming more confident, more independent, and trusting her own judgement. That must have been one hell of a kiss!
The romance with Orion is steamy, but also relatively chaste. The sex scenes are restricted to when they are in their human forms, and cut politely away at the intimate details (picture a film transitioning to waves crashing against the shore, then back to the morning after). This neatly avoids any accusations of bestiality and also softens the impact of a man who is hundreds of years old taking a just-turned-eighteen year old as his mate. Again, the author also addresses this issue head on, in discussions between the characters. Kristy Nicolle is clearly an expert at spotting and eliminating potential complaints!
Ultimately, after a bit of a wobbly teenage start, I was won over by the wonderful worldbuilding and exciting plot, and found that the – initially a bit stereotyped – characters grew and developed in interesting ways. So you could say that I ended up firmly on the hook of the Tidal Kiss Trilogy, and I will definitely be diving into the next instalment as soon as I get a chance.
A deep icy blue penetrates me, pinning me to the spot, stopping my breath with the chilling warmth of its depth, taunting me, haunting me. I want to get lost in its frosty glaze, swim in it and writhe in it, wrap myself up in it as though it were silk. It is familiar yet strange. I am watching it as the pastel cold blazes with a promise I cannot quite comprehend. I extend out to touch but cannot quite reach…
– Kristy Nicolle, The Kiss That Killed Me
The Kiss That Killed Me is available on Amazon right now!