Series Review: Fae Out of Water by E.J. Russell

I read a lot of romance, really; not what you’re probably thinking when I say, “I read a lot of romance.” I don’t read very much historical or paranormal romance, Austenesque Regency courtship dances or alpha werewolf shenanigans. What I do read is a lot of fanfic, much but not all of which is romantic, much but not all of which is slash, featuring two male characters in love. When I turn to pro writers, I tend to go for m/m romance with fantasy or science fiction settings. I read a lot of romance, really; not what you’re probably thinking when I say, “I read a lot of romance.” I don’t read very much historical or paranormal romance, Austenesque Regency courtship dances or alpha werewolf shenanigans. What I do read is a lot of fanfic, much but not all of which is romantic, much but not all of which is slash, featuring two male characters in love. When I turn to pro writers, I tend to go for m/m romance with fantasy or science fiction settings.

I think the first book in this series, Cutie and the Beast, came up on my Amazon recommendations. Despite wincing at the title, I found the cover art appealing and the sample excerpt engaging, so I bought it and dove in. I found not just a clever riff on “Beauty and the Beast” (one of my favorite fairy tales), but the introduction to a trilogy featuring three brothers, three romances, and the fate of the faery realm in the modern world. Russell weaves together faery lore from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales to create an Otherworld in which the surviving fae of different lands have united politically under one Queen and her consort, but an endless jockeying for power and position goes on and the old resentments between different tribes of the Fair Folk are far from dead. The Kendrick brothers, Alun, Malcolm, and Gareth, must negotiate their places in the human world and the faery world both while coming to terms with their feelings for the unexpected lovers who complicate their lives and interfere with their self-imposed noble suffering.

There are some delightful twists that make this series fresh and not just a recycling of tropes. For one thing, it’s set in the Pacific Northwest, and given the stories I’ve heard from friends, I have no trouble believing there are doorways to the faery realm out there. For another, the suffering fae brothers share the mundane world with other magical beings–werewolves, vampires, more-than-human druids, and even a dragon shapeshifter. Alun, the eldest brother and protagonist of the first book, works as a psychologist/therapist who specializes in counseling other supernatural beings. One of the most charming scenes in the series occurs in the first novel, when the reader discovers what the solemn little boy who is actually a dragon wants for his hoard, instead of the traditional gold and jewels.

I definitely recommend Fae Out of Water if paranormal romance, m/m romance, faeries and faery lore, and humor along with passionate sex scenes appeal to you.

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