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Sleeping with the Fishes    by MaryJanice Davidson order for
Sleeping with the Fishes
by MaryJanice Davidson
Order:  USA  Can
Jove, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

In a genre populated by vampires, ghosts, and werewolves, MaryJanice Davidson brings something new to the mix. Sleeping with the Fishes is the first book in her new paranormal romance series featuring Fred, the mermaid.

Fred has always been different, what with being a mermaid and all, but her life is relatively normal until two men show up unexpectedly. Dr. Thomas Pearson is the new water fellow at the New England Aquarium, researching a recent unexplained level of toxins in Boston harbor. Artur, Prince of the Black Sea, is a merman who has come to Fred for help with the same problem. Fred thinks it will be easy to hook the two men up and then continue her boring life as a marine biologist feeding the fish in the Aquarium's main tank. Unfortunately, both men want Fred and are vying to woo her, while dragging her into their investigations. To complicate matters even more, Fred's extremely metrosexual best friend Jonas has a huge crush on her boss, which could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

While Sleeping with the Fishes is a fun romp in the sea, it does have a few structural problems. Many events - and even a character - that seem important at the beginning are wholly forgotten by the end. Also, while the story is about Fred, a few chapters follow Jonas around instead, almost like a side story - and while some of what happens with Jonas is important to the plot, it could be covered in dialogue with Fred instead of pulling the focus from her. However, the biggest issue is too much time spent on exposition or unneeded events, so that when the source of the toxin problem is discovered, everything happens too fast and things fall into place way too easily in a an effort to wrap up the novel.

On the other hand, Davidson does create fun and interesting characters, the backbone of chick lit and many romance novels. Fred has many foibles to which readers can relate, and Jonas is the guy friend that every girl wishes she had. Of the two men romancing Fred, neither is perfect, which makes the reader fully empathize with Fred's indecision, unlike in some romances where the right choice is obvious. MaryJanice Davidson's Sleeping with the Fishes is simply light, fun reading. And it's good to see something as lively and fantastic as mermaids appear in a genre that usually has darker elements.

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