Desert Isle Keeper
The Siren's Dance
The Siren’s Dance is a paranormal romance, unique in its setting and premise. It’s the second in the Siren Romance series by Amber Belldene which began with The Siren’s Touch. Each story is designed to be read as a standalone but characters from book one appear in book two. It combines Slavic mythology with a suspenseful revenge plot and a sexy romance, pulled into a page turning story unlike any other I’ve read.
The background setting of the series is tragic. The Truss family lived in the Ukraine in the late 1960’s when it was still under Communist rule. Mr. Truss was a jeweler who came into possession of a ring belonging to powerful men. In reclaiming that ring, the men hunted down and executed Mr. Truss’s family. He had two daughters, Sonya and Anya. Sonya was shot and fell into a river where she drowned. She became a ‘Rusalka’, a ghostly water nymph seeking revenge on the man who killed her. In trying to enact her revenge through a blood oath, she falls in love with Dmitri, whose uncle Gregor is one of the men responsible for their killings. That’s the focus of the first story, The Siren’s Touch, an excellent read on its own.
Anya, a ballerina in training, also drowned while running from her family’s pursuers. She became a Vila, a nymph with power over the wind. In her ghostly form she is invisibly tethered to her tattered ballet shoe that sits on the riverbank where she drowned. This story begins with Sonya, Dmitri, and Gregor going in search of Anya. Together they find her hovering at the river bank, though Gregor is the only one who can see her, because of his part in her death. He begs for her forgiveness, which if granted will ensure she can rejoin the living world. But Anya seeks her ballet master, a cruel and demanding man named Stas Demyan who broke her spirit. Though he wasn’t responsible for her death, he is the man she blames for destroying her life. Dmitri contacts his friend Sergey, a police officer who helped him unearth the old Truss family case while he was helping Sonya. Sergey also seeks the same man as Anya for his own reasons. Sergey is shocked to come face to face with a ghost. And not only is Anya a spirit, she is also a Siren, her voice and body ensnaring Sergey with her sexual power. Confronted with the reality that the childhood myths he heard his demented mother rave about are real, Sergey worries for his own mental well-being. Will he be able to help Anya in her mission of revenge or will his own demons take over?
The setting of this story is quite unique. Ukraine is not a common country in which to base a romance, and using the cities of Kiev and Odessa with the link to the old Communist regime as well as continued Russian influence makes for an interesting background. Along with this, the story is heavily influenced by the ballet Giselle in plot and in characters. I’ve seen the ballet a few times myself, and it’s a haunting piece about a woman who dies of a broken heart. She is able to save her lover, whom she forgives for his betrayal, from a group of supernatural women (The Vilas) who try to dance him to his death. In this story Anya, as a Vila, has been visited by the head of a similar group of spirits, her sisters in kind. She’s been promised a place among them once she satisfies her need for revenge.
Anya is a ballerina whose goal was to dance the role of Giselle, a dream she was unable to realise when she didn’t live up to her ballet master’s expectations. As a character, she is a disciplined, controlled young woman with sharp edges, figuratively and literally, and this has not changed in the forty years she has been a ghost. She’s still the same woman, with a sharp tongue and a body that bears witness to her art, and the transition of that body from invisible ghost to fully human is part of the appeal of the story. She is invisible to those around her though she has control of the wind and can make herself known by displaying this power. When she is angry or emotional, the wind intensifies and sometimes she has difficulty keeping it under control. When Gregor (who was actually responsible for her death as she was running from him when she drowned) touches her, she gains her human form and can be seen by those around her. Without Gregor physically present, she can only be seen and talked to by wearing an item of his, in this case a ring he leaves with her once Sergey agrees to help her.
After Anya and Sergey set off on their quest together, they discover that when Anya touches Sergey she enters back into human form and as long as they keep some kind of skin to skin contact, she remains present. When they lose that contact, she becomes a ghost again. Back in the nightgown in which she drowned, any clothing she might have put on while in human form puddles at her feet. This is a really interesting way to make her transitions back and forth entertaining, and at the same time a way to enable her to have an intimate relationship with Sergey when in her body.
Sergey, a police officer, has been looking for Stas for years. Stas is Sergey’s father, though they’ve never met. Stas’s mother was also a ballerina ruined in the same way as Anya and lives in a mental home, beset by nightmarish visions and memories, some too far-fetched to be believed. On this quest with Anya, Sergey finds himself very attracted to her. As a ghost or in human form, she displays a strength of character that he’s never seen in another woman. Though Anya knows she can get Sergey to do anything she wants by using her Siren powers, she finds herself attracted to him in return, and wants to experience a real sexual relationship. Sergey is more than happy to oblige her and they share some steamy scenes together – always in human form, and only once Sergey is sure that she’d never slept with his father when she was his protégée. He desires to protect her and to help her seek vengeance – for her, for his mother, and any other woman Stas ruined. The hunt for Stas takes on a decidedly suspenseful air in the latter part of the story, with some surprising twists and turns I didn’t see coming.
From start to finish I found The Siren’s Dance an enthralling tale. Like any paranormal romance, one has to be willing to suspend belief to imagine that the characters can fall in love, especially when one of them is a ghost. The author does a commendable job of making the characters flawed yet attractive to the reader, and the suspenseful plot flows well. Combine that with a sexy romance and a woman who deserves to be avenged, and you’ve got an entertaining story you won’t soon forget.