Ever since Kait Swanney could remember, the old crones of the village have been warning her to stay away from the selkies. They claim that like sirens of old, the seal men creep from the inky waters, shed their skins, and entice women to their deaths beneath the North Sea. But avoiding an encounter becomes impossible when Kait is spotted at the water’s edge, moments after the murder of a half-selkie infant.
Unexpectedly, Kait is awoken by a beautiful, selkie man seeking revenge. After she declares her innocence, the intruder darts into the night, but not before inadvertently bewitching her with an overpowering lure.
Kait obsesses over a reunion deep beneath the bay and risks her own life to be reunited with her selkie. But when she lands the dangerous lover, the chaos that follows leaves Kait little time to wonder—is it love setting her on fire or has she simply been lured?
I am a huge, giant fan of romance novels, although paranormal romances aren’t typically my thing. But being a lover of mythology of pretty much any kind, I immediately jumped at the chance to read and review The Lure of Shapinsay. The story sounded completely different while still incorporating the aforementioned elements that I love. I also couldn’t resist exploring the unique world of the selkies, and the historical setting promised in the summary. While there were certain aspects of this book that I had some issues with, overall I found this to be an engrossing read full of historical flair, atmospheric details, and – above all – an unbelievably heart-wrenching romance.
I couldn’t help but root for Kait, who is a stubborn, headstrong girl, who doesn’t fit in with her surroundings at all. She’s too bold, too brash, and too honest; she says what she means and doesn’t take crap from anyone. In fact, her banter with her brother, Blair, was perfect and had me grinning throughout. Then you have Eamon, the elusive selkie who captures Kait’s heart and her attention, most notably through the use of his Lure. However, Eamon was quite a different sort of paranormal love interest, for he finds himself equally enamored of Kait. What then happened was the part of the book that made me slightly uncomfortable: their absolute codependence on each other.
Being a paranormal romance, the infatuation by the human partner was expected, and even the reason for said attraction was blatantly laid out: “Lure” is in the title, after all. And yet, I was unprepared for the absolute besotted devotion that Kait felt for Eamon. She is literally unable to function at all, for fear that he’s going to leave her. Don’t get me wrong: I KNOW that that’s part of selkie lore, so I’m not arguing against it. I’m simply saying that reading about that sort of love and obsession was difficult for me because I just cannot fathom it myself. I did like that the love wasn’t one-sided in its furor; not only is she wanting to do anything for him, he likewise wants to do anything for her, and in fact gives up far more than she ever could. The relationship itself just really wasn’t a healthy one, at least not in my opinion. But perhaps that was the point. Holle didn’t shy away from the insanity ever-present in the back of Kait’s mind over Eamon. She likewise didn’t mince words when it was Eamon’s point of view, and the reader was allowed to see exactly what he felt for her. What comes out of The Lure of Shapinsay is basically your usual forbidden romance, but with a twist that I didn’t actually see coming, and which I applaud Holle for introducing and using (apologies for being vague, but I don’t want to spoil!). One thing that really DID annoy me, though was the whole thing where [SPOILER] Kait won’t let Eamon die for her, and frequently mentions how it would kill her to lose him. And yet, that’s EXACTLY what she wants to do herself, every single time she calls out for him to take her into the ocean, thereby leaving Eamon without her. The mind, it boggles! [/SPOILER]
Now please don’t read that last paragraph and think I disliked this book, because I didn’t. In fact, there was quite a lot that I actually really loved. I adored the setting: the way Holle described the island of Shapinsay, and the waters that surround it. I loved the description of the trees, and the castle, and the islands surrounding Kait’s home. I also loved the historical flourishes she added by having the characters speak in dialect. And I loved the character of Tipper, whose story kind of broke my heart. Likewise, the dual viewpoints were also appreciated, as it allowed us to see not only inside Kait’s head, but Eamon’s as well.
While The Lure of Shapinsay is a bit of a departure for me personally, I am grateful for the opportunity to read it. I found in its pages a romance worth rooting for, with stubborn and headstrong characters who are caught up in things they can’t control. While part of the romance aspect rubbed me the wrong way personally, I like how closely Holle followed the selkie lore, and was very intrigued to see how things would be resolved. If you’re looking for a romance that’s a bit different from the norm, then do check this one out!
A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.