Title: A Merman’s Choice
Series: Sea of Love Book 1
Author: Alice Renaud
Genre: Fantasy Romance
For centuries the shape-shifting mermen of the Morvann Islands have lived incognito among humans. But one of them, Yann, has developed some bad habits. Like rescuing humans, even when doing so risks revealing his true nature. When he fishes Alex out of the sea, he doesn’t expect her to reappear eight months later, and turn his life upside down by asking him to be her guide.
Alex is determined to fulfil a promise to her dying grandmother, by gathering pictures and stories of the Morvanns. But she soon discovers that, on these remote Welsh islands, legends have a habit of becoming true!
Over the course of a few days, Yann and Alex grow close. But some mermen hate humans. Their hostility, and Yann’s secret, threaten to tear the couple apart just as they are discovering that they are soul mates. Can Yann overcome the obstacles in his path and make the right choice?
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Alex tiptoed downstairs, settled her bill with the night manager, and slipped out. The salty air embraced her like a long-lost acquaintance. She’d loved that fresh smell, once. Just as she’d loved the slap of waves against her skin, the squish of sand between her toes, the cry of seagulls above her head. She’d dreamt of watching whales, or swimming with dolphins.
She pushed the sadness away. Maybe one day she’d learn to love those things again.
She reached the quay. The undulating black water, dull and menacing in the light of a street lamp, drew her eyes. That same water had almost swallowed her. The snakes in her belly twisted upwards, crawled into her throat. Focus on the boats! She read the names aloud, as fast as she could: “The Cormorant. Star of Wales. Gwilan.”
That last boat was the only one with its sails up, so it had to be hers. It was so tiny! The prospect of sailing in that thing, on the wild seas around the Morvanns, rubbed her nerves raw. She let out a loud sigh. “Oh, God. I’ll never make it.”
“Alex?” The deep baritone, from somewhere behind the mast, jolted her.
It’s only the captain, you muppet. She coughed the words out. “Yes. It’s me. Hello.”
A tall, broad silhouette stepped out of the gloom. “Alex! It really is you! I wasn’t expecting you so early.”
His enthusiasm took her aback. He was behaving as though she was a long-lost friend. Had they met before? She took a step forward for a closer look.
The light fell on his features. A young, handsome face, with a straight nose and square chin, crowned by a mop of glossy chestnut curls. No, she didn’t know him from Adam. Where was her grizzled, reassuring sea-dog? “You’re the captain?”
“That’s right. I’m Yann,” he said with a smile.
A captain barely in his twenties, and a titchy boat. The knots in her throat tightened. That thin wooden shell couldn’t contain more than two adults. Just like the boat that had been found on a Morvann beach three months ago, with its mast torn off and a massive tear in its hull. They’d never found the honeymooning couple that had sailed in it. She could taste the cold, salty water in her mouth, feel the tug of it on her legs, dragging her down. “You’re the captain, and also the only crew?”
His grin faded at her sharp tone. “Yes. Is that a problem, Alex?”
She felt like a right snotty bitch, finding fault with his boat before she’d even stepped on it. Yann seemed a nice guy. He’d left her no choice, though. He’d never mentioned he was a one-man band. He’d never told her how tiny his boat was, so tiny that one large wave could lift it and smash it against the rocks.
She shoved the answer out of her dry mouth. “I’m sorry, I have to cancel my trip.”
His eyebrows almost hit his tousled hair. “Because my boat is too small? It’s very seaworthy, I assure you.”
Her fear was thickening, smothering her. Her field of vision shrank, until all she could see was dark water, rising towards her. Its rushing noise filled her ears. This stranger had no idea what it was like for her, and she didn’t have the energy to explain. “I’m sorry,” she repeated, and turned away.
“Wait!” He jumped on the quay, with a lightness surprising for a man his size. “I can’t let you go like that, you’re as white as a sheet. Are you feeling OK?”
The concern in his voice reached through her anguish, stopped her in her tracks. The din in her eardrums receded. “I’m… I’m just scared of the sea.” She cringed because it sounded so lame.
Yet unlike her ex, Boris, and her father, Yann didn’t laugh at her. “Why, what happened?”
She’d never met him, and he seemed to care more than Boris ever had. That was sweet. Proof that nice, caring guys still existed. She owed him an explanation. “I had an accident in the Morvanns, last autumn. I nearly drowned.”
He sounded as though he meant it. The noose around her throat loosened, the words came more easily. “It’s not you, or the boat, it’s me. I’ve been afraid of water since the accident. Please don’t take it personally.”
His voice softened into a gentle rumble. “Why would I do that?”
He came closer, lifted a hand. She wondered if he was going to lay it on her shoulder. “I understand. And I’m sorry.”
His arm fell to his side, and she couldn’t help a minute prick of disappointment. What would it have felt like if he’d enveloped her in a bear hug? That broad chest was made for a girl to lay her head on.
I was born and brought up in Brittany, Western France, my father was French and my mother British (from Wales). I moved to London, UK, in 1997, where I now live with my husband and son. I have been writing since I was 14. I got quite a few short stories published in UK magazines, before moving to longer fiction. I wrote three contemporary romance books, but didn’t find a publisher for them. I then realized that mermen, sea witches and water demons were a lot more fun than sheikhs and billionaires! My first two paranormal romances did not find a publisher either, then I wrote A Merman’s Choice, which was accepted for publication this year by Black Velvet Seductions. It is the first book in a fantasy romance trilogy inspired by the landscapes and legends of Brittany and Wales. I love reading and writing stories, and sharing them with anyone who’s interested!