A red tide is rising.
As the daughter of one of the mer-king’s trusted advisors, seventeen-year-old Jade has great responsibilities. When her fiancé murders a naiad, plunging the underwater city of Thessalonike into uproar, tensions surge between the mer and the naiads. Jade learns too late that the choices she makes ripple further than she'd ever imagined. And as she fights against the tide of anger in a city that lives for scandal, she discovers danger lurking in every canal, imperiling her family and shattering the ocean's fragile peace.
Can the city's divisions be mended before the upwelling of hate rips apart everything Jade loves?
As we crossed the threshold, I noted with chagrin that we were indeed the first people at the party. “Told you so,” I whispered to Rhea.
“Jade, how delightful to see you,” my new mother-in-law, Yvonna, said with a graceful smile.
I smiled back at her, trying to hide my discomfort. I never quite knew what to say to Yvonna. While she seemed pleased enough about the engagement, I’d always suspected she personally disliked me.
“I’m so happy to be here,” I said. “You have such a lovely home.”
It was true. Their home was twice as large as ours and decorated in the same style as the king’s own reception hall. On the far wall, a trio of silver filigree dolphins—life-sized— chased a school of gold fish. Eight hundred and forty-five fish, to be precise. I’d counted them during a particularly insufferable party the month before.
We stared at each other in silence for a full ten seconds before I asked, “Is Tor around?”
“I believe he’s in the courtyard. Go in peace.”
“Thank you.” I bowed. “Peace be upon you.” I grabbed Rhea’s hand, and we drifted toward the back door.
“Oh!” Rhea whispered in my ear, looking behind us just as her fingers curled around the door handle. “Philip’s coming in! He’s perfect for making Theo jealous. See you later.”
She released the door handle and swooped down on poor, unsuspecting Philip.
I suppressed a smile.
Leave it to Rhea. With her beautiful face and all her machinations, it was a wonder she wasn’t engaged yet. Of course, she’s not as well-connected as I am. I can’t assume it’s as easy for her as it was for me.
With a final glance backward, I pushed my way into the well-appointed courtyard. Daring red anemone lined the walls just above three thin lines of bioluminaries that cast a romantic purple light on the scene.
I smiled and bit my lip. A battalion of tiny sea horses hovered around a feeder to my right.
Movement in the corner of my eye caught my attention, near Yvonna’s prized fire coral garden at the corner of the house on the far side of the courtyard. I swam toward it. “Tor?”
When I reached the fire coral, I stopped short and locked eyes with Tor. My whole body trembled. In one arm, he held the dead body of a red-haired naiad girl.
The gathering of the disgruntled mers, shouting and thumping for change and violence made me think of my favorite BBC television dramas.
Jade is a very strong character. She has to look inside and decide what is right to do and find the strength inside herself to follow though. Like some others, I am not sure about her next relationship. I think there may be someone else who will challenge her and eventually be a better fit. After the twists and surprises in this book, who knows?
Well developed characters and wonderful world building make this a new series to watch.
Catherine Jones Payne is a Seattle native who loves the written word, international travel, crashing waves, and good coffee. Her earliest memory involves pulling up a rolling chair to her parents’ old DOS computer—while wearing a tiara, naturally—and tapping out a story of kidnapped princesses. By day she’s the managing editor of Quill Pen Editorial and the editor of Splickety Magazine. She lives in Waco, TX with her historian husband, Brendan, and their cats, Mildred and Minerva.
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