by Sandra Sookoo, paranormal (2010)
Liquid Silver Books, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-59578-755-2
Sandra Sookoo's Changing Tides is part of the Strange Hollow special line. My reaction to previous stories in this line had been a resounding "I'd rather wash my hair!" but I find myself intrigued by the lovely cover art. I know, I know, I should have just screen-captured the cover art, but still, what's done is done.
Neadra Hydral is a water sprite, but she is deadly afraid of going into the water. As you can probably imagine, such a phobia doesn't endear her too much to her people. She now resides in Strange Hollow, where everyone knows and accepts that you are an outcast from your own people, and works as the town librarian. She is afraid of even getting into her bath tub, but somehow the issue of her probably smelling like rotten vegetables never comes up, hmm. Maybe she cleans herself up by rolling her naked body on the snow during winter or something.
Caelan Burke is a water dragon who is unable to shift into his dragon form. Not only is he always in human form, he also lacks the aggressive alpha tendencies of the males of his kind. Like Neadra, he's not exactly popular with his own kind. These two meet, they feel an instantaneous attraction between them, and love helps them feel whole again. The usual, really.
Imagine my pleasant surprise when I realize that this is one of the author's better efforts. My reaction to her previous efforts is a lukewarm "Okay, after washing my hair, I'm going to brush my teeth!" because her stories tended to be too short with too much build-up and not enough pay-off, often leaving me to wonder what the heck I had just read. Changing Tides, however, is perfectly paced, with the characters actually interacting and bonding before jumping into bed. There is character development that works and a romance that feels pretty credible.
There is some tendency for the author to focus on information dumping over many paragraphs, but I'm fine with such practice this time as the characters and their love story are interesting enough for me to put up with those moments. Still, a little more showing would have been nice.
All in all, Changing Tides is a pleasant cozy read. It doesn't have much surprises, but it is a nice surprise nonetheless, considering both my reaction to previous stories from this author and previous stories in this line.
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