With a serial killer on the loose, the baffling mystery of Aiden’s past, and their tenuous budding romance, Aiden and Fouchard tread through a world of magic and myth on padded shoes, terrified to stir up something neither can control or defeat.
Aiden Mercer’s life now centers around lounging on the sunny beaches of his adopted country with a beer in one hand and a coffee in the other while admiring the local male population. After a rough life as a respected detective in DC, playing it cool shouldn’t be too hard, right? With the magical community on his case and dead bodies piling up around town, the responsibility of finding their killer seems fated to fall on him and deny him of his easy living.
Then there is Naël.
Cantankerous merman Naël Fouchard's life is focused on bringing up and protecting his little sister. When DNA found at the scene of the murders mark him as the prime suspect, Naël seeks out the help of Aiden, whose reputation as a detective grossly belies his lazy lifestyle and apparent lack of ambition.
The chemistry between the strong, stoic Naël and the easygoing Aiden is undeniable, no matter how many walls Aiden builds.
If this unlikely pair can’t come to terms with their feelings for each other long enough to catch the killer, their emotional turmoil might yet allow the murderer to kill them instead.
- 2 To Be Read lists
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 2 Age: 36-45
Tropes: Beach Romance, Enemies to Lovers, Interracial Relationship, Love Can Heal / Redemption, True Love
Word Count: 70000
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
While Cristina, my only employee, was busy serving the few customers who loitered inside the café, I could enjoy the local fauna as they hurried from shop to shop or headed out to the beach. Summer hadn’t quite arrived yet, but the sun had warmed the air enough for the locals to shed their wintry clothes and don more relaxed apparel. From behind my shades, I followed the trek of three young men, all shirtless and in swimming trunks. Hot. Not the weather, the guys—tanned, lean and muscular, shorts low enough on their hips to reveal that sexy vee—
“Olha para ti, a salivar como um cão por um bife.” Cristina had sneaked up from behind and interrupted my yummy thoughts.
“Speak English, woman,” I told her, sliding my glasses down my nose to look at her over the rim. “You’d think you’re Portuguese, or something.”
She slapped me mercilessly across the back of my head and plopped herself on the chair next to mine. “Idiota.”
Without so much as a may I, my small Portuguese friend and employee grabbed the glass from my hand and took a long swig of my beer. “Are you going to sit here all afternoon watching the hot guys walking by?”
“And what’s wrong with that?” Cristina spoke flawless English but enjoyed confusing me with spurts of Portuguese once in a while. She pulled up another chair and placed her feet on the seat, her legs crossed at the knees. “What exactly did you call me just now?”
“A dog salivating over a steak.” She took another swig before I could retrieve my beer. “Don’t you have more important things to do with your life, Aiden?”
I wiped her foam mustache with a finger. “Not really. Why do you think I moved here from Virginia?” She blinked her eyes at me, pretending not to know what I was talking about. “Easy living, sunshine, and hot, half-naked guys.”
Cristina laughed, her face turned to the sun. She had skin the same color as the cork in a wine bottle, a honeyed brown made darker since the early spring weather replaced the cool air of winter. “You’re something, Aiden. You have no other dream or ambition? Just basking in the sun and ogling sexy men?”
Not quite correct but part of the truth. “Are you jealous?”
The skin crinkled around her green eyes as she turned her gaze to me. “Only if you flirt with guys I have my eyes on.” She spotted a couple of newly arrived customers and hopped to her feet. “Customers. Unlike you, I have some interest in making a buck here and there. I enjoy having a roof over my head.”
As she walked away, I yelled, “No need. You can always sleep on the beach.” I heard her humph from inside the shop and I laughed. I loved messing with her. The truth was, I was not as shallow as I liked everyone to believe, but after the many complications of life in the US, where magical beings seemed to vie for my attention, I was enjoying a truly relaxed, noncommittal, and peaceful new existence.
I dropped my head until it rested on the back of the chair, slid my bottom forward, and closed my eyes. A nap might be in order. The store didn’t get busy until later in the evening when the ocean breeze cooled the air to an even more pleasant temperature and all the locals, who had been at work all day, came out to play. Portuguese were night people who enjoyed socializing outdoors until late in the evening. I often had to turn off lights and lock the door with customers still sitting on my chairs outside.
“Can we get any service in this joint?” The low, deep voice startled me from my semi-sleeping state. I straightened up on the chair and looked at the stranger through my dark glasses. He was sitting a couple tables away from me, looking as menacing as he was handsome. “Where’s the fucking waitress?”
The dark man spoke English with an American accent, and I had never seen him before. I’d remember if I had. He was impressive, all dark and broody, muscles bulging out from his T-shirt sleeves, and brown eyes narrowed in annoyance. His lips were pressed into a mere slash as he scanned the area looking for Cristina.
Reluctantly, I stood up and walked to his table. “Could you please refrain from cussing out my staff?”
His eyes, sheltered by strong eyebrows and thick eyelashes, lifted to mine. Damn! Amazing eyes. I shook my head and focused back to the matter at hand. This guy had just insulted Cristina, my only employee and friend.
“Are you the manager?” he asked, his gaze never leaving mine as he crossed his arms, emphasizing his already impressive biceps. Was that a tattoo peeking from underneath the white sleeve?
“I’m the owner.” You hot idiot, you. Focus, Aiden. “And I don’t appreciate you referring to my server that way.”
He sneered. “I’ve been sitting in this empty esplanade for five whole minutes, and she hasn’t even acknowledged my presence.” The tip of his tongue popped out from in between his lips for a second, and I shifted my weight from one leg to another, hoping the movement would discreetly rearrange my manly parts inside my jeans. “Not much of a business man, are you? How do you expect to make a profit if you ignore your customers?”
I didn’t care how sexy the guy was, I was not about to allow him to question my business expertise—which, admittedly, was not the best—or the efficiency of my staff. “Listen, sir…?” Really? Was I really trying to find out his name? My last foster mother was right; I should wear a hat more often. All that sunshine was baking my brains.
With something akin to a low growl, the stranger stood up, revealing his full length. I gulped. Holy Mother of God, the man was huge. With his shadow totally covering me, I wondered whether I’d be able to stare up at him—in all his six-feet-plus height—without looking like a munchkin.
“Naël Fouchard,” he muttered in a low, sexy voice. Where was a cold shower when you desperately needed one? “And who may I be talking to?” he asked, looking down on me both literally and figuratively. With a smirk, he added, “So I can report you to the Better Business Bureau.”
“Ah, there is no such thing in Portugal.” Jesus, could I sound any lamer?
He laughed, a booming sound that reverberated inside me. “Whatever equivalent they have over here.”
My legs were like chocolate melting in the sun. I wanted to hate this presumptuously rude man, but my traitor body had other ideas. “Be my guest.” Oh God, did I squeak? “Cristina is busy in the back, but I will gladly take your order, Mr. Fouchard.” Very gladly indeed. Do you want me wrapped in a bow to go? That could also be arranged. Stop. This man is obnoxiously rude, so stop lusting over him.
“Uma bica e um pastel de nata.” The man could speak Portuguese. Color me impressed. My Portuguese was rudimentary at best, but I knew the café-related words well enough to know he meant an espresso and a custard tart. I was about to walk away to fetch the man-god his order when he wrapped his big hand around my forearm to stop me. “You still haven’t told me your name.”
I was sure he heard me swallow. Electricity ran from the spot his fingers were pressing on my skin to my groin. “Aiden Mercer,” I coughed out. “At your service.” He released my arm and laughed. Conceited prick. He thought I was into him—which I totally was—but that didn’t mean I wanted him to know it. “I’ll get your food.” I made my escape as quickly as my jellied legs could carry me.
Of books & portkeys 's on GoodReads wrote:
Deliciously scrumptious! A sexy new series full of magic, mayhem and merman! I thoroughly loved this new world and characters. I enjoyed the suspense and the romance woven in I can’t wait to dive deeper into the characters and uncover more about this new world.
Loved this seaside mystery. Easy read. Keeps you guessing. Only reason I gave 4 stars was at times I would skip over some of the descriptive details. I must admit they were beautifully written though.