September 3, 2013

Spotlight on: Ocean's Gift by Demelza Carlton

Title: Ocean's Gift (Oceans Gift, #1)
Author: Demelza Carlton
Genre: A combination of contemporary urban fantasy, paranormal romance (no one can give me a clear answer on whether mermaids and sirens are fantasy or paranormal) and sea adventure.

Purchase Links:
Barnes and Noble 

Sirens don’t fall in love with humans. For centuries it has been so…
But Sirena is different. She lost her first love to sharks and a storm, cursing the islands that stole him from her.
Times have changed and she must swim ashore once more, at the islands she once cursed.
Gone are the boats powered by sail and steam – jet boats with GPS are now the order of the day.
Enter Joe, the deckhand on the Dolphin. A handy man to have around when the lights go out. He’ll fix your generator and have the lights back on in no time, no worries.
But can he seduce a siren?
Or will she swim away before he can uncover her secret?
A book about fishing, lobsters, beer and boobs, on some cursed islands off the coast of Western Australia. At least, that's how Joe tells it.
For Sirena, it's a very different story.
You'll never look at mermaids the same way again. 

Shipwrecks, Storms, Songs and Sirena

A shipwreck, a song and lack of sleep. Yes, seriously. I didn't intend to write Ocean's Gift at all.

I'm a researcher – which I hope shows in my stories. I'll visit a site, photograph and record it, plus delve deeply into its history before I set a story there.

Looking at a particularly mysterious  shipwreck that happened in 1921, I was listening to an Evanescence CD that I'd recently bought.  

The articles started with "…the violence of the waves tore him from his support and he disappeared…" (Page 3 of the Geraldton Guardian, 24 February 1921), ending with the mysterious, "Where he was found was two or three miles from where the Columbia was wrecked, and how he had travelled the distance will never be known," (Page 2 of the Geraldton Guardian, 10 March 1921).

At the same time, over the speakers I heard Amy Lee singing, "They are here – it's my time…I'm sorry…Nothing can hold me." The song is called Swimming Home, by Evanescence. It sounded like a perfect coincidence – as if the man who'd drowned had reached some kind of acceptance as he sank. Yet the longer I listened to the song and the more research I did, the less I thought that.

Giuseppe Benvenuto – the man who drowned – survived for long enough to do first aid on his own broken leg. But he couldn't swim. And there's a couple of lines in the song that doesn't sound like it's being sung by a human:

"I knew I'd be swimming home…And I cannot betray my kind…They are here…"

It sounded to me like someone else was watching the shipwreck from beneath it – someone who would swim home, wasn't human and wouldn't be held on land. It sounded like something out of The Little Mermaid. Not the love-struck girl herself, but perhaps one of her sisters. One who failed to save the man's life.

So the story of Sirena began. Instead of saving a man and ending as sea foam on the water, as in the original fairy tale, she lost him in the storm and swam home, starting a sequence of events with far-reaching consequences. For Sirena and her fisherman sheltered together on an island for a night.

I put together a little background video, combining my research and some short excerpts from Ocean's Gift.

Ocean's Gift (Ocean's Gift, #1)Ocean's Gift by Demelza Carlton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Copy of book provided by author in exchange for a review.**

This book was a fun easy read that I enjoyed quite a bit. I love anything to do with mermaids, so I was excited about this story as soon as I read the synopsis. While I do wish that the book would have focused more on life underwater, the above ground tale was pretty good.

Mermaids Vanessa (aka Sirena), Belinda and Maria go inland to Australia to live among the humans as they do research into the changes that are occurring on the ocean floor. They are trying to find out what the humans know about the alarming shifts and deviations that are happening underwater, and how they can help fix it. Vanessa is more comfortable in her human form, and so takes point in the girls quest to mingle with the humans to find out all that they can. Vanessa has a fondness for humans, especially since she lost one of the fathers of her daughters many years ago when he drowned. While mermaids don't typically have any sort of lasting relationship with humans, they must go to land at least once in their lifetime to breed with a human male so that they can have babies and perpetuate the mermaid species. Some mermaids see this strictly as a distasteful duty that they must perform for the good of their sisters. Others, like Vanessa, actually seem to take pleasure in mating with a human male, and seem to develop a certain fondness for the males that father their children. So, when Vanessa meets Joe, a rookie deckhand that's using his time off from his real job to earn money by working on a lobster boat, it's no real surprise that in addition to using him to help her get internet access and information about the shifting climates and oceans, she also finds herself enjoying other more physical acts with him. To Joe, Vanessa is a dream come to life, and he spends a good deal of time wondering how he became so lucky that she even bothers to look his way. Then comes time for the girls to return back to their underwater world to report what they have learned during their time among the humans. Vanessa finds herself strangely sad and unwilling to leave Joe, but knows that she must. However, she will be taking a very special memento of their time together back with her.

I liked the plot, loved the characters, and was happy to read a story that was straightforward and easy. No real twists or cliffhangers, and the ending of the story sets everything up nicely for the next book in the series. I will definitely pick it up when it's available to see what happens next.

View all my reviews

Author Bio:
Demelza Carlton has always loved the ocean, but on her first snorkelling trip she found she was afraid of fish.

She has since swum with sea lions, sharks and sea cucumbers and stood on spray drenched cliffs over a seething sea as a seven-metre cyclonic swell surged in, shattering a shipwreck below.

Sensationalist spin? Hardly. She takes a camera with her to photograph such things to share later. She asserts that sharks are camera shy.

Demelza now lives in Perth, Western Australia, the shark attack capital of the world.

The Ocean’s Gift series was her first foray into fiction, followed by her Nightmares trilogy. 

Demelza's personal website:
This is where I place background material on research for my books – wildlife, restaurants, alcohol, locations, photographs, videos…the works :D
Demelza's email:

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