Review: The Ocean Between Us

The Ocean Between Us by Cate Rowan is a book I saw advertised on Facebook. It sounded more adult than the books I normally read, so I was going to pass it up. Then I saw that it had quite a few positive reviews. The concept of a Greek mythology mermaid romance intrigued me, so I decided to check it out. The book was short enough for something I was on the fence about and didn't take up much of my time. While it was pretty mature, it was a decent story for someone who is interested in paranormal romance. Of course, it goes without saying that I would not recommend this book to anyone below the age of 18.

The Ocean Between Us is about a mermaid named Mareisa who is cursed to live on a desert island as a siren to sink any passing ships with her uncontrollable song. To her surprise and delight, one of those ship's passengers survives and makes his way to the island, where he is no longer held by the grasp of her song and has the opportunity to get to know her as a person. That man is a prince named Kyros, who is on a quest to find his lost brother before his ship sank. Now he is trapped on the island with Mareisa and has nothing left to do but get to know her while she treats him like a mortal plaything to entertain her after years of loneliness. Despite this unhealthy start to the relationship, the two inevitably fall in love.

Though the book is quite erotic, there is very little sexual activity between the main couple to Mareisa's great dismay due to Kyros values as an honorable man. The majority of the book involves heavy flirtation between the two, which is made all the more torturous to Kyros because Mareisa, like most sirens, is a nudist. I suppose it's an old romance trope to have a couple stranded on a deserted island together where no one is around to judge them, although it is not one that I have read many stories about. I'm glad the book was relatively short because the "Will they? Won't they?" drama became trite rather quickly. I was far more interested in learning about the two characters' backstories, which appear to be the focus of the later books in this series.

As far as worldbuilding goes, this book is pretty lackluster. Mareisa is a mermaid, but she spends most of her time as a human on land, and very few details are given about the underwater kingdom where she came from. The Greek mythology elements also don't into much detail. Mareisa reveals that she was engaged to Poseidon and was betrayed by her sister, Phi, who took her place as his bride and cursed her to live on the island forever. There are very few references to any other gods or goddesses from mythology. It was written as an adult romance first and foremost, and everything else comes second.

All in all, The Ocean Between Us is a short adult romance book with some hints of fantasy and mythology. It is the first book in a series called Hearts of Olympika, but it didn't motivate me enough to want to read the rest. It has a simple character-driven plot with loads of sexual tension. The most interesting parts are the main characters' backstories. I would have preferred to read a prequel about these instead of hearing about them after the fact, but there is a much stronger focus on romance than fantasy or adventure. I would recommend this book to someone who is looking for a light fantasy novel that is more mature than the average YA fairy tale retelling.


Sugar said…
One of the things I regret the most is that an "adult" romance is not always made thinking that it is precisely more mature or complicated or with deeper conflicts, but most of the time it simply means "this contains a lot of sex or allusions to sex.
that lead to a lot of sex in later books."
Personally I will go through this I prefer books without sexual content or with little focus on it especially because no matter how beautiful it is written almost always when there is a focus on the sexual thing the author makes the emotional look weaker or wants us to assume that it is strong just because the characters desires each other a lot. I am also one of those characters who distinguishes between what is sexual tension and romantic tension, sexual tension is "oh they want to kiss and touch each other so much" romantic tension is what we see in a lot of shojo manga or anime of the type "oh they are developing feelings" I prefer this type.
Lisa Dawn said…
I completely agree! I love that most fairy tale retellings fall into the "clean romance" or "sweet romance" category because it feels more authentic. I also get a little uncomfortable reading about sexual tension in general.

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