This book marks another in a long line of firsts for me; it was my first Christine Feehan experience and one for which I had few expectations. Though linked to other Feehan novels, it marks the first in the new Sisters of the Heart series concerning six adoptive sisters. The characters alone made for a unique reading experience that I enjoyed greatly.
Rikki Sitmore is at home under the ocean waves surrounded by solitude and quiet and, as a sea urchin diver, she’s found a place that provides her with peace and security. When she isn’t surrounded by the ocean, she lives in isolation on a farm owned by one of her many sisters and shared by all. While contributing to the whole, each of the sisters has their own place and responsibilities and their own complicated lives to live.
Rikki’s complications stem from two sources; her disability (a high functioning form of autism that makes her incredibly sensitive to external stimuli), as well as the fact she believes she may be responsible for the fires that have killed everyone in her life she’s cared about. Rikki’s life is complicated even further after she rescues a man battered against the rocks by underwater currents.
Lev Prakenskii is a man who has never known peace – at least until the moment he looks into Rikki’s deep, nearly black eyes as she pulls him from a watery grave. Suffering from the debilitating effects of a severe concussion and unable to remember much about himself, he knows that he’s a man bred to kill, that he has many names, and he’s done very bad things for his country. He also knows that with Rikki’s help, he may be able to escape his own past.
Despite her well ordered life of necessary routine, Rikki hides Lev in her home. He quickly realizes her uniqueness and becomes completely captivated by her. While making her as comfortable as possible, he tries to help her push the envelope of what she can handle, as well as protect her from the demons that chase her. She, on the other hand, realizes what Lev can really become and is determined to make him realize it himself.
I found Water Bound to be unique and enjoyable in so many ways. The water theme is so prevalent throughout the story that if feels as if it’s almost a third character. There is an undercurrent of melancholy as well as calm that courses through the story, making the water elements and Rikki’s ability almost tangible. Though it is a paranormal romance, the paranormal elements aren’t overwhelming. They’re subtle and unique at the same time.
The setting of the story is also interesting, although somewhat familiar. It’s set in a small coastal town, but the characters seem more contained or isolated than usual. The setting, sea, and paranormal characteristics blend to create a mysterious atmosphere.
While I liked the other elements of the story, it’s Feehan’s characters that drove me to pick up the book even when I should have been doing other things. Rikki’s disability was amazing to learn more about. Though I know very little about autism, I found her struggles and dilemmas hypnotizing. From her problems with food texture to her difficulty with lighting, diving into her world was a different and worthwhile experience. Lev’s role as hardened, consciousless agent is a perfect juxtaposition to Rikki’s character. He’s never known kindness and has existed from childhood to kill. However, both are trapped either by disability or profession and both have someone after them. Because they need each other, they are on equal footing from the beginning, which I completely enjoyed.
Though the book is long and has depth, the ending almost felt anticlimactic and rushed. Given Rikki’s disability, things seemed almost too uncomplicated.
I enjoyed Water Bound and look forward to others in the series. Though this was my first Christine Feehan novel, I’ve already picked up another for my TBR pile.