Sleeping With the Fishes
Grade : B-

After days of internal debate, I still had a tough time grading Sleeping with the Fishes, the first book in MaryJanice Davidson’s new series. This is a classic case of Read The Review, Not The Grade since there are many flaws that some, like me can gloss over, while others will have a hard time getting past. Davidson has managed to create a laugh-out-loud story that kept my attention regardless of the paper thin plot and barely-there romance.

Fred might be a mermaid with blue hair and an unnatural allergy to seafood, but she has tried to stay normal. She currently has her PhD in marine biology and works at the New England Aquarium. Considering that she can communicate with fish and other forms of sea life, her job is not as taxing as it could for a biped (human). Still, she must deal with the fishy attitudes of her charges when they constantly go on hunger strike unless she plays the Pet Shop Boys.

Fish hunger strikes aside, Fred is having a rough couple of days. After walking in on her parents mid-intercourse on the living room coffee table, she is told that her father isn’t her real father – no surprise there since the mermaid thing had to come from somewhere – and now they plan to adopt a child. She rushes back to Boston and work only to find an annoyingly perky new intern and a sexy new marine biologist sent to the aquarium to hunt down the source of poisonous toxins being dumped into Boston Harbor. He also wants to recruit Fred to help him. She wants no part of it, deciding her life is full enough as it is.

That is, until she is dragged into the mystery by a sexy merman prince (yes, everyone here is sexy and attractive) who is also concerned about the toxins. Fred now must determine who the culprit is while beating off the slightly unwanted advances of her two partners. While she shares a kiss with each man, it seems it will take a book or two for anything to really heat up.

There is a secondary romance involving Fred’s metrosexual best friend, Jonas, and Fred’s boss at the Aquarium. This plotline was not overly interesting, but was sweet and fodder for some of the more hilarious bits of dialogue. (And was also responsible for the “Warm” sensuality rating this book received.)

Fred is really what made this book for me. Like Betsy from Davidson’s Undead series, Fred is extremely sarcastic and dry. Unlike Betsy, Fred isn’t interested in shoes, clothes or hair care – much to Jonas’s horror. Her sharp tongue and biting comments to one and all had me laughing out loud. This is a serious compliment since it takes quite a bit to make me chuckle.

It’s the plot that brings this novel down. It’s very weak and does nothing but move the characters from point A to point B without being very interesting. I hesitate to give a more detailed summary without diving into spoiler territory. Let’s just say there isn’t much there.

Sleeping with the Fishes is a quick read at a mere 268 pages. Any longer and the thin plot would have worn on my nerves. Being short, I was able to concentrate on Fred and focus on her character. Many may not be able to overlook the problems and just sit back and laugh. I was able to, and hence the B-grade – a qualified recommendation. But as they say…to each her own.

Reviewed by Lisa Gardineer

Grade: B-

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : December 9, 2006

Publication Date: 2006

Review Tags: Mermaid/merman

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Lisa Gardineer

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