by Christine Feehan
Series: Sea Haven / Sisters of the Heart #1
Pub. Date: Aug. 4, 2010
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Narrator: Angela Brazil
Length: 13 hrs 49 min
Source: Overdrive / Library
Christine Feehan’s #1 New York Times bestselling Hidden Currents may have closed the Drake Sisters saga—which “brought paranormal romance to a new high”*—but it has opened the door to an all-new series of startling magic, mystery, and the soul-stirring elements of nature…
The last thing Lev Prakenskii remembered was being lost in the swirling currents of the ocean and getting sucked deeper into the nothingness of a freezing black eddy off the coastal town of Sea Haven. Just as quickly, just a miraculously, he was saved—pulled ashore by a beautiful stranger. But Lev has no memory of who he is—or why he seems to possess the violent instincts of a trained killer. All he knows is that he fears for his life, and for the life of his unexpected savior.
Her name is Rikki, a sea~urchin diver in Sea Haven. She has always felt an affinity for the ocean, and for the seductive pull of the tides. And now she feels drawn in the same way to the enigmatic man she rescued. But soon they will be bound by something even stronger, and their tantalizing secrets will engulf them both in a whirlpool of dizzying passion and inescapable danger.
I started the Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart series not realizing its a spinoff of the Drake series. I was just scrolling through my library audiobooks, and this one sounded interesting so I grabbed it. While it is not absolutely necessary that you read the earlier series, I wish I would have. There seems to be quite a bit of character crossover, and I think I would have liked this one a little more if I had the history. I would also call this "paranormal lite" - it seemed much more a contemporary romantic suspense with a few special abilities thrown in, but they were not the focus of the story.
The heroine in this book is Rikki Sitmore, a sea urchin diver and water element in the town of Sea Haven. Rikki is also autistic, albeit a high functioning one. Rikki is a tortured heroine in that everyone she has loved in the past has died in a horrible fires. Being caught in one of the fires herself, Rikki carries scars on her legs and feet. Most people see her as odd due to her autistic characteristics, and are quick to believe that she was the one who started all the fires. She is starting to believe it now herself. Rikki is not a typical heroine, or even one that has just a touch of Aspberger's or pervasive personality disorder. Rikki is truly autistic and displays a lot of the common signs and behaviors.
Our hero is Lev Prakenskii, a Russian operative who Rikki literally pulls out of the water after a yacht explosion. Lev's injuries cause him some memory loss, which he slowly gets back over the course of the book. However, even without his memory, Lev knows that he is a dangerous man. For starters, he is loaded down with weapons and his first instinct is to kill. He is also a bit broken and broody, and given his dangerous nature and ass-kicking abilities, he is the type of hero that I usually like.
I liked the idea of this book and, don't get me wrong, it was okay. I think I would have liked it more if I had read the Drake Sisters series first. But the execution and characters just didn't work for me in a way that would have let me connect and draw me into the story. And I hate myself for saying this and have debated whether to even put it out there... but the main reason I couldn't connect was the autistic heroine.
I am a reader that likes to imagine myself as the heroine or main character. That helps me connect with the story, it allows me to go on the adventure, what have you. I was not able to put myself in Rikki's place as the heroine - her problems were just too detailed and specific for me to fit myself into the mold. I have also never been around any autistic adults, or even autistic children really. I have not watched any autistic adults on television (other than light Aspberger's cases). So I had a hard time picturing Rikki's autism as anything but what I have seen of autistic children on TV. And Rikki did display a lot of those behaviors/characteristics: rocking, fixation, hand movements, sensory problems, outbursts, etc. So relating to her character as a child really made it impossible for me to see her as a romantic figure. The sex between her and the hero just felt wrong to me. Actually, the whole pairing of her with this dangerous hero felt wrong. No matter how I looked at it, the relationship just didn't work.
The story also meandered along and started dragging. Listening to it in audio as I was, I found myself zoning out and having to rewind once I realized it. With a paranormal, that was geared toward romantic suspense, I wanted more action and faster pacing. Instead, a lot of the book was Lev trying to overcome Rikki's disability, or Rikki's extreme reactions to normal situations. I think if there would have been a little less focus on Rikki's disability, then I would have enjoyed the story more. Sometimes less is more when it comes to these things.
I will probably continue the series, but not until after I go back and read the Drake Sisters.