Book Review: Catch and Release (MM Merman Romance) by Isabel Murray

Quick Summary: The world’s worst fisherman stumbles onto the best catch ever when reeling in a mysterious man from the sea. Two fish out of water fall in love and try to find a place for themselves when one lives on land and the other at sea.

My Thoughts: Catch and Release is a beautiful, hilarious love story about basically falling for someone from outer space… or underwater. The writing is fantastic, though there’s only so much material to work with in this premise, and it goes on a bit too long.

Imaginary Rating System: 3.5 cryptids out of 5, except that seems unfair to the poor .5 creature

Our main characters

Joe used to be a hedge fund manager, had a near death experience, and changed his life. Now he’s a terrible fisher in a small seaside town. He’s minding his own business when he finds a strange man washed ashore.

Or is he a man? The guy’s caught in a net, and the situation escalates quickly when Joe tries to help.

The strange blue-haired person with gills doesn’t speak the language, is naked and well-endowed, and is instantly drawn to Joe. And weary/hostile to his buddy Jerry. And Joe is drawn right back, though he doesn’t know what to make of this encounter.

Joe doesn’t even really know what Dave is. They refer to him as a cryptid, a creature whose existence is rumored but not proven like Nessie, Big Foot, sirens, and mermaids. (However, we do learn what Dave is eventually.)

The Love Story

On the plus side, they’re attracted to each other from the jump. But they can’t communicate verbally. And humans aren’t well suited to prolonged periods in seawater. They come from different worlds and there aren’t cultural divides so much as species divides. Can they really make it work just based on the chemistry between them?

And yes, the name they give this buff, chiseled sea god… is Dave. It’s awesome.

Sidekicks and Shenanigans

Dave can’t really speak so Joe and his sidekick Jerry carry the brunt of the conversation, sharing their thoughts about Dave’s origins and what his behavior means throughout the novel. Jerry is great. He’s an older veteran fisherman who is absolutely no threat yet becomes the unwitting rival/enemy/pet of Dave throughout. He’s a lot of fun.

And many parts of the novel are light-hearted because making it work with an alien lover who doesn’t understand human customs has a learning curve. Dave woos Joe with fresh, sometimes frightening, fish, Joe worries Dave is a sea vampire for a bit, and there are some wild misunderstandings about mating rituals. It’s all very entertaining and hilarious.  

If the hilarity isn’t in play, then the writing is so descriptive and beautiful instead. It’s a joy to read and a lot of rich detail and lovely writing. However, the problem when communication is limited and their environments aren’t compatible? The title says it all. There’s only two options: catch or release. So they get together and must separate, catch and release, catch and release, rinse and repeat. It just didn’t need to be as long as it was for me.

More about Dave:

Without giving much away, Dave isn’t human or animal. He’s pretty much treated as something else entirely. That’s just something to keep in mind as some might be uncomfortable with this concept. The romance is a bit different than with shifters or vampires because those are partly human or were human once. Dave has some human-like features, but he’s largely alien.

Quote From The Novel:

Catch and Release by Isabel Murray

Joe McKenzie’s high-flying London life imploded six years ago, and it happened dramatically enough that paramedics were involved. That’s all in the past. Now, Joe couldn’t be happier living a solitary life as a fisherman on England’s wild northern coast.

Okay, he could be happier.

It’s not like he’s depressed or anything but, you know. The weather’s not great. Life’s a bit samey. He’s only thirty-eight. The idea of another forty years is a bit exhausting, to be honest. He passes the time pretending to be a fisherman but the truth is, he sucks at it.

Then Joe makes the catch of a lifetime when he stumbles across the mysterious Dave washed up on the beach—an enormous man with gills and uncanny power over the sea. Once Dave stops trying to kidnap Joe and/or kill Joe’s fishing buddy, Jerry, turns out he’s kind of…intriguing?

And not half as smooth as he seems to think he is.

There’s a lot Joe doesn’t know about Dave. He doesn’t know why Dave keeps disappearing or why he can’t seem to stay away. He doesn’t know what Dave wants from him. He doesn’t even know what, exactly, Dave is. And Joe can’t ask, because they don’t speak the same language.

Joe does know one thing, though. He is in love.

Which, great. How’s that going to end well?

Catch and Release is a gay paranormal romantic comedy featuring a truly terrible fisherman with an octopus phobia, a merman (maybe? Confirmation pending) with no sense of personal boundaries at all, constant communication fails, a whole lot of sea life not in the sea but in Joe’s house, yes, it’s dead, some epic yearning from both sides, and bewilderingly enough, maybe a way to make it work?

Book Review: Dead Over Heels by Arden Steele

I’m a little early for New Year’s resolutions, and I also don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I guess I’m trying to be more flexible by reading Dead Over Heels. I usually hate straying from series reading order, though since the books in the Blackhaven Manor series are connected yet about different characters I made an exception. This was the perfect time to read too since it takes place over the winter holidays.

Quick Summary: A troubled loner finds a fresh start in a magical town. Meeting his fated mate helps, but running into an unexpected ghost does not. Oh yeah, he sees dead people.

My thoughts: What a great winter/holiday novel about fated mates who suddenly find themselves living together during the Christmas season. The book is full of sweet romance, domestic ups and downs, and just a touch of heat.

Fictional Rating System: 4.5 tiny cat sweaters out of 5

Keywords and tags: Paranormal romance, holidays, age gap, werewolf, medium, ghosts, fated mates, cranky cats, crankier spirits, fluffy, finding home, acceptance

Characters and Story (and Curtains?)

Fritz, called this for many technical malfunctions in real life, is a sweet, clumsy guy who is used to annoying people and occasionally hurting himself with his klutzy mishaps. Adding in medium abilities only makes matters worse. Even though supernatural beings are known, he thinks he’s just a regular guy who happens to see ghosts and never stays in one place too long because people will ask questions or he’ll overstay his welcome.

Until he arrives at Blackhaven manor. He’s looking for a job, and they instead send him to the sheriff’s office. Said sheriff rightly assumes this is a set up because the manor literally hires everybody, they even have a job which is basically Official Opener and Closer of Curtains. This isn’t at all related to the plot, but it’s a detail I remember when writing this, and I still find it amusing.

Vander is the sheriff, who indeed hires Fritz. It would be kind of rude to not give his fated mate a job. But before they can get to know each other better, Fritz accidentally touches some evidence and gets saddled with a ghost. A nasty one. Vander doesn’t know what’s happening, but realizes he needs to tread carefully to make his mate comfortable and get him to open up. So what follows is Vander low-key wooing his mate while Fritz tries to handle his uninvited ghostly house-guest.

Sweeter Than Sugar Cookies

While most shifters are apparently not huge fans of sweets, this book is filled with sugary goodness as the pair live together and fall in love. All while dealing with enthusiastic family members, a touch of demonic possession (or close enough), and hilariously feisty animals.

Honorable character mentions go to the hellbeast/nice kitty they babysit and the formidable goose who battles a werewolf and wins.

Honestly this wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. It’s an enjoyable book I didn’t really fall in love with, but I still recommend because of excellent writing and such fun, silly scenes that are sure to be memorable. I think there are lots of people who would love this novel when looking for seasonal reads, romantic comedies, and sweet love stories with relatively low angst.

Book Quote

Dead Over Heels by Arden Steele

It’s been twelve years since the Awakening. Otherlings are out of the paranormal closet. The whole world knows that creatures like vampires, werewolves, and witches exist. So, seeing dead people barely even rates on the freaky scale. Right?

Wrong.

Fritz Tolliver figures he must have done something terrible in a previous life to be afflicted with such a curse. In fact, every bad thing that has ever happened to him can be traced back to his unwanted ability. So, when a stupidly hot werewolf who’s way out of his league claims to be his mate, he should be thrilled. And he probably would have been if he hadn’t gone and gotten himself haunted by a nasty spirit on the same day.

When a human male strolls into the station asking for a job—and promptly spills an entire Americano on him—Sheriff Vander Hale has a feeling it’s going to be a bad day. Then, the door opens, the wind shifts, and suddenly, his whole world changes. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for his mate, no battle he wouldn’t wage, even if his enemy is technically already dead. Unfortunately, there’s just one problem with his plan.

He’d go to hell and back for Fritz, but how is he supposed to fight something he can’t see?

Series Info: Blackhaven Manor

Purrfect Harmony

Night and Fae

Dragon It Out

Pixie Little Liar

Dead Over Heels

Silent Knight