Jane True has always been an oddity in Rockabill, Maine, what with her scandalous (and missing) mother, her secret habit of swimming at night near the dangerous whirlpool called the Old Sow, and most of all, the tragic death of her childhood sweetheart in a drowning accident. Though some of Rockabill’s residents blame Jane for the tragedy, she has stayed in town to care for her ailing father. She works in a bookstore. It’s not an exciting life, but it’s the only life Jane knows.
Everything changes when, in one night, Jane stumbles across a murder and learns that she’s half-selkie. Now she has powers to discover, a group of strange new friends, and possibly a killer on her trail. Then she meets Ryu, a handsome investigator who happens to be a vampire. Soon, Jane is caught up in a world of danger, glamour, and romance.
Nicole Peeler has created an unusual heroine in Jane. Unlike the tough, gun-toting heroines often found in urban fantasy, Jane starts out shy and mousy. Even when she develops into a more self-assured woman, she’s not physically fierce, and she has a girly streak. Tempest Rising has a definite “chick lit” flavor to it, and much of this comes from Jane’s appreciation for pretty dresses and her love-hate relationship with Christian Louboutin shoes.
The humor also adds to the chick-lit atmosphere. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in Tempest Rising; my favorite is the one where she gets “drunk” on the magical energy of a faerie swimming pool. The dialogue in this scene is hilarious.
What didn’t work so well for me was the romance. Jane and Ryu’s steamy scenes take up much of the middle of the book, and that wouldn’t be a bad thing if Ryu were, well, more interesting. There’s nothing wrong with him per se. He’s just sort of bland. He’s hot, he’s well-dressed, and Jane tells us he’s good in bed, but I don’t feel like I really know him. Now, that other possible love interest — I won’t say his name for fear of spoilers — he’s wonderful, and I really hope Jane gets closer to him as the series continues.