Mermaids! And dolphins–and a giveaway 🙂
Meena has a secret guarded closely by her family—a secret as dangerous as the sea and buried just as deep. When court-appointed community-service workers are assigned to Flukes, the family-owned animal sanctuary, everyone is on high alert. It doesn’t help that Meena finds herself attracted to sexy-as-sin Blake Weathering, one of the new workers. If he wasn’t so distracting, she might be able to land Flukes a much-needed cruise-line contract.
Blake Weathering, the first in his family to attend public school, has developed a tough image. Unfortunately, it lands him in trouble. Now banned from his high school graduation ceremony, getting his diploma is dependent upon a community-service gig cleaning up fish crap. No diploma, no trust fund fortune—and no way to escape his overbearing father. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a mysterious girl with teal eyes who pulls at his heartstrings.
When Blake discovers Meena’s secret, they are both thrown into a desperate search for information about her past. Two worlds pull them in opposite directions, and they will have to fight to hold on to all that really matters.
It felt like forever before I heard the splashing that announced she was back. I sat forward and smiled when I heard her make a shocked choking sound. I picked up her shorts and held them up for her to see.
“You forgot a towel!” I didn’t get up. I wanted to watch her walk out of the water.
She sputtered some and thrashed around a bit more. I stood up, worried that she had managed to get attacked by a shark in three feet of water.
“Are you okay?” I started to walk down the beach. I didn’t want to be the asshole that sat under a palm tree while some girl was eaten alive in front of him.
“Stay where you are! I’m fine!” Meena’s voice was sharp and breathless.
“What’s wrong?” I froze in place, still worried she might need help.
“Nothing. I have to put my bottoms back on.”
My brain fritzed for a minute before my mouth tugged up in a grin. “Need some help?”
“No!” She pushed the wet hair out of her eyes and glared at me.
“Were you skinny-dipping? It’s a lot more fun when you have someone else with you.” Please ask me to go, please.
“Yeah, I bet you’d know.” Her voice drifted to my ears and made my smile grow even more.
“What was that?” I took a couple of steps forward, a laugh bubbling in my chest. “You want me to come help?”
“Nothing! No! I don’t need any help, thank you very much.” She stood up in the water and I felt my blood pressure rise. “I was not skinny-dipping. I just had sand in my bathing suit.”
She stomped angrily up the beach before coming to stand in front of me. Her teal eyes glowed in the moonlight as she glared holes in my chest and yanked her shorts out of my hand, before pulling them up over her long legs. Pushing the wet hair out of her face she stood back up but didn’t move away. My left hand tingled and I fought the urge to pull her against my chest.
“Are you a creeper?”
Her words pulled me out of my thoughts and I blinked my eyes. “What?”
“Are you a creeper? Following me around?” She put her hands on her hips and I fought the urge to smile. “I can have your job detail cancelled, you know.”
“You wouldn’t do that.” I reached out and brushed some of the hair from her cheek and watched her eyes grow bigger. She was going to call me a creeper? Well, I was staring at her like a boy that just had his first wet dream. I loved her spitfire attitude, but it was time to give her some of her own medicine.
“Why not?” Even in the dark I could see the blush spreading out under my fingers.
“Because you like having me around.” I shifted closer and heard her breathing pick up.
“What makes you think that? You’re a jerk. No one likes a jerk.”
“Because you watch me when you don’t think I notice.” Yep, she was blushing. When she bit her lip it made my body parts down south jump.
“I do not.” Her voice was a little less sure and I knew I was right.
“And because…” I leaned closer to her.
“Because why?” Her head tilted up, her mouth opening slightly in invitation. The smell of the ocean on her skin was intoxicating. Damn it if I didn’t want to taste her.
“You wouldn’t want me to have to do time just because I was waiting for you to unlock the shed so I could get my helmet.” Her eyes snapped up from my mouth and she glared at me. “I could have driven home without it, but if I died, you never would have forgiven yourself. And I didn’t want to burden you like that.”
“You could’ve just said that.” She jerked away from me and grabbed her shirt out of the sand. She pulled it on before digging in her pocket to find her keys. She slipped her feet back into her flip-flops after brushing the sand off and marched back up the trail. I didn’t mind following her angry footsteps. It gave me a great view of her ass.
“It was a lot more fun my way.” She grunted and I smiled some more. She might not want to admit it, but she had been just as excited as I was.
She undid the lock and opened the shed. I leaned in over her shoulder so that she was trapped between me and the door while she grabbed my helmet from the shelf. I shifted closer and moved my mouth down to her ear. This close, I had to fight my desire to bury my face in all that gorgeous brown hair.
“Good night, Meena.” She shivered against me and my hand clenched on the strap of my helmet. I wanted to touch her so badly but knowing her, she’d try to kick me in the nuts.
She turned her face and raised an eyebrow. From my vantage point, I could see all the bright blues and greens in her eyes. It was like staring into the Caribbean waters. Her eyes darted down to my mouth and she licked her lips quickly. She leaned closer and I felt my heartbeat pick up. Maybe she wouldn’t have kicked me in the balls if I touched her. Just as I was about to pull her against me, she moved the door just enough that the hinge pinched my finger.
“Shit!” I stuck my right pointer finger in my mouth. “You did that on purpose!” I stepped back and she closed the door and redid the lock.
“Good night, Blake.” She laughed as she sauntered away. And damn it, I still stared, even though I was seriously considering tackling her and finishing what she had started. Okay, I started it, but I still wanted to finish it. She looked over her shoulder once and I could see that she was laughing. She knew exactly what she had done and thought it was funny.
A cute read that’s definitely more on the YA side of NA, Flukes is a pleasant and sweet summer diversion.
Ms. Chase has created an interesting world here–Meena manages to live a somewhat normal life masquerading as a human (though she is homeschooled, not able to be away from water for a whole school day) on her family’s marine animal sanctuary. She shares a special bond with marine mammals, especially the dolphins who helped to rescue her from the storm that killed her mother, able to communicate with and intuitively know things about them. The fact that she’s really a mermaid is known only to a very select few–her adoptive parents, her best friend Violet, and Violet’s mother, Meena’s pediatrician. She’s resigned herself to staying at Flukes forever–which is fine, she really does love the family business, but she’d also love to get out and see the world…somehow.
I enjoyed Meena’s spunkiness–she’s not easily intimidated by privileged bad boys or villains, and she often gives as good as she receives. She and Blake were cute together, and even though their relationship developed quickly it wasn’t quite insta-love.
Blake was supposed to be the bad guy turned good, but really he was pretty much just a good guy. The reason he ended up in trouble in the first place had a decent justification behind it, even though he wouldn’t admit what it was at first. The only time his “bad” side showed was when he stood up to protect those he loved.
I liked that we’re not hit over the head with a ton of info-dump in the story, though on the other hand there are aspects of it that won’t stand up to a whole lot of scrutiny. If you approach Flukesin the spirit of a light-hearted summer-themed read and don’t spend too much time weighing realism and logic, you’ll probably end up enjoying it.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B-
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Nichole Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Suddenly Royal, The Accidental Assassin, Flukes, The Dark Betrayal Trilogy, and several short stories.
Nichole lives in Georgia with her husband, energetic daughter, superhero dog, Sulcata tortoise, and two cats. When not writing, you may find her reading, painting, crafting, or chasing her daughter around the house while making monster noises.
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5074162.Nichole_Chase
FLUKES Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21686601-flukes