Okay--we all know the cover above looks like I've taken a side-trip into a lurid romance. Don't be deceived by the cover! Yes, there is some graphic sex, and yes there are other elements that might hint that grandma has taken a dip into a lurid romance novel, but stick with me! Desprite Measures by Deborah Jay is a modern day urban fantasy. It is not a deep book, but is perfect for whiling away rainy afternoon.
On the surface she's a cute and feisty blonde, a slender pocket rocket fitness coach. But Cassiopeia Lake has a secret; she's really a force of nature - an elemental.
Water sprite, Cassie, has lived undisturbed in her native Scottish loch for eons. Now, one encounter too many with modern plumbing has driven her to live in human guise along with her selkie boyfriend, Euan. It's all going fine - until a nerdy magician captures Cassie to be an unwilling component in his crazy dangerous experiment.
Escape is only Cassie's first challenge.
She's smitten by her fellow prisoner, the scorching hot fire elemental, Gloria. But how do you love someone you can never touch?
And what do you do when your boyfriend starts to hero-worship your persecutor? Not to mention that tricky situation of being the prize in a power contest between two rival covens of witches.
So when Gloria's temper erupts and she sets out to murder the magician, can Cassie keep her loved ones safe from the cross-fire, or will she be sucked into the maelstrom of deadly desires and sink without trace?
I met the author through the comment-column on my writing blog, Life in the Realm of Fantasy and picked this book up as a bit of light reading. I was not disappointed. Cassie, the main character is not a human, but rather she is a water-elemental, a sprite. (Hence the title.) The author does a great job of conveying Cassie’s alien-ness, and her lack of human understanding.
While I normally don’t really enjoy first-person point-of-view, I think in this case it is well done. Although graphic sex from a first-person pov puts me a little off, it's okay because there is not too much of that, and what there is does seem to advance the plot. Though this is a rather graphic romance, there is a lot of other action, and all the characters are well fleshed out. Unlike most romance novels, the plot moves quite quickly and does not rely on the sex to keep the reader’s attention.
The plot encompasses a great deal of urban mythology regarding vampires and the fae, modern witchcraft and the old-time selkie legends. The author blends them well and pits them against modern ecological issues, such as sustainable power. There is also the age old conflict of truth and trust, and how sins of omission can mess up a life, which makes for great drama. The magic is quite believable, as are the magical beings.
Liam, the evil magician, is your usual self-centered, amoral, malevolent bad dude, and his machinations drive the action in this tale. Cassie is not the only person who is not what they portray themselves as, and that leaves the door open for a sequel.
The ending, while not exactly happy, is satisfactory. Billed as ‘The Caledonian Sprite Series,’ Desprite Measures does leave the door open to a sequel, which I will definitely buy.