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REVIEW: Sea Witch by Virginia Kantra

Dear Ms. Kantra:

book review Sea Witch is a departure from the paranormals that I prefer. It’s the real world with a paranormal aspect instead of fully developed alternate reality. This type of paranormal is usually not my favorite but really worked in this situation. I’ve not read a lot of Kantra books. I think the last one I read was Mad Dog and Annie, a Silhouette Intimate Moments. I’m certainly on board for more Kantra’s, though, after reading this one.

The heroine, Margred, is a selkie whose love for the sea is greater than all else. Her husband was taken from her years ago; but while she misses him selkies, by their nature, are very solitary. Her only need is one of physical companionship and this drives her from the water to a small island community. “Your island is between the Arctic current and the Gulf Stream, like . . . a convenient resting place for anyone making the ocean crossing.” Margred informs the hero, Caleb, at one point in the story.

Caleb Hunter is the police chief of World’s End. He’s taken the job to gain a measure of peace after a miserable tour of duty in Iraq and a number of years serving on the Major Crime Division in Portland. He grew up in World’s End and isn’t sorry to have returned. His life seems to take an uptick when he spots the beautiful and barely clad Margred on the beach after he finished rousting some underaged drinkers.

Margred has come to the island for one thing — physical release. Caleb resists initially but her open invitation “I walk on the beach in the evening. . . Come find me sometime when you are not on duty” is a siren call that he can’t ignore. They pleasure each other for hours and Caleb watches her walk off believing that they’ll meet again only she doesn’t return. Frustrated, embarrassed, a little angry, he tries to forget the encounter but finds himself back at the beach looking for her.

But Margred is a selkie. She does not need, nor want, constant companionship. However, memories of Caleb and their time together draw her back but once she returns, a demon is waiting for her to steal her pelt and destroy her. Caleb finds her in the midst of the assault and rescues her. Because Margred’s pelt is taken away from her, she cannot return to the sea. Caleb finds a job for her at a local restaurant and tries to investigate the assault.

Margred begins to find pleasure in the human trappings and eventually must face the choice of going back to the sea or staying with Caleb.

If I were to characterize this book, it would be the subtlety of the writing. The characterizations, the backstories, the worldbuilding are deftly intertwined with the story. The reader is allowed the pleasure of discovery by the unwrapping of the details. I found the descriptions to be vivid.

A cloud of scent and steam rolled from the bathroom and enveloped him. Cucumber, melon, apricot, strawberry, mixed and mingled together.
His head swam. Like a fricking bomb had gone off at a farmers’ market.
He cleared his throat. “Maggie?”
“In here.” Her throaty voice purred through the open bathroom door.
Hell, he knew she was in there. Wet. Naked.
Vulnerable, he reminded himself.
“Do you, uh, need anything?”
“Yes.”
He waited.
Nothing.
He related his breath. Okay. He’d seen her naked before. Recently. Just because she sounded like a wet dream and smelled like a whole roll of Lifesavers was no reason to lose his mind or his cool.

Caleb is a great hero. As evidenced by the scene above, he is both human in his desires but principled in his actions. He strives hard to always do the right thing. He’s a man who deserves some pleasure and happiness in his life.

Margred is more prickly but I liked her characterization. It would not have been natural for her to be warm and cuddly and responsive to Caleb’s emotional overtures. Her instinct is toward solitude. Her desire for the water is great. It makes the story more tender, more romantic that Margred would fall in love with Caleb, something a selkie would ordinarily never do. Her initial indifference fits the worldbuilding and it made her emotional transition from viewing Caleb as something inconsenquential to something necessary powerful.

Both sacrifice to be together. Caleb and Margred find that in giving in, allowing yourself to be changed, yields miraculous results. Margred’s changes are greater than Caleb’s but he must learn to trust and have a bit less control. B

Best regards

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or in Mobipocket ebook format.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

16 Comments

  1. Sarah
    Jul 01, 2008 @ 19:22:22

    Well this review has sold me. I have been avoiding anything paranormal romance lately but there’s just something about this review that captured my attention. I like that the heroine is “prickly.”

  2. Jane
    Jul 01, 2008 @ 20:07:18

    I hope you like it but if you don’t, you know where I am. ;)

  3. Beth
    Jul 01, 2008 @ 20:44:54

    I like that the heroine is “prickly.”

    Yes, so much better than “plucky”!

    Living in Maine, and still on the paranormal train, I guess I’ll pick this one up too (although the closest “World’s’ End” island I know of is in Massachusetts!).

    Tanks for the review.

  4. stephanie feagan
    Jul 01, 2008 @ 21:23:19

    Okay, I’ll bite….
    What’s a selkie?

    *cringes at her own ignorance*

    ETA: I am so buying this book, because whatever a selkie is, this sounds fabulous.

  5. Jorrie Spencer
    Jul 01, 2008 @ 22:04:06

    I loved Mad Dog and Annie

    Will be picking up this book.

  6. Julie Leto
    Jul 01, 2008 @ 22:49:13

    A selkie is a seal shapeshifter. Their seal skin can be stolen from them and that makes them human. Once the skin is found, they’re supposed to return to the sea. It’s an Irish legend, I think?

  7. Jules Jones
    Jul 02, 2008 @ 04:49:30

    Scottish, Irish, and Northern England. Also spelt silkie and selchie, depending on dialect. There’s a good page about them at Orkneyjar:
    http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/selkiefolk/index.html

  8. Gennita Low
    Jul 02, 2008 @ 09:08:55

    I’ve missed Kantra’s males. Can’t wait to pick this one up.

  9. Virginia Kantra
    Jul 02, 2008 @ 09:15:21

    Well. Wow. Thanks! Thank you all so much.

    Julie and Jules nailed the selkie thing–I love the Orkenyjar site–but if you want to read more, I blogged about the selkie legend on MySpace: Countdown to Sea Witch, days 13 and 14.

  10. Stephanie (BKLYN)
    Jul 02, 2008 @ 10:45:31

    Hi Jane,
    I picked up Sea Witch on Tuesday and it is teed up for my 4th of July weekend read! I am so excited. With Virginia, it is all about the writing, especially with this new series, the word atmospheric comes to mind. Friends, you might also want to try her novella in Shifter which also features stories by Alyssa Day, etc.
    Enjoy,
    Stephanie

  11. vanessa jaye
    Jul 02, 2008 @ 15:16:52

    I ordered this in store today, I should have it by this time next week. Really looking forward to it.

  12. B in MN
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 20:27:45

    I liked her short story in this series from the ‘Shifter’ anthology, so I’ll be picking this up as soon as Penguin gets the other ebook formats (besides Mobi, Sony & Kindle) out and for sale. I wish they’d get them all out on release day like they’ve been saying they’re going to do.

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    Aug 26, 2009 @ 23:55:14

    Virginia Kantra really is a wonderful and talented author. The book caught my attention while browsing through romance books when this amazingly stunning cover cought my eyes (I don’t judge books by their covers) but this one had me. By the way Loooovvveeedd it, Sexy, fun, and magical 10-10!!!

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