Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day she can claim her birthrightthe undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weaponuntil her father's betrayer confronts Nerissa and challenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa's upcoming birthdaythe day she comes of age.
Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa's mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpin that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her?
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"Run!" the voices scream. "RUN, RISSA!"
I can barely hear them over the pounding of blood in my ears as my feet skim over the grass. I'm winded but can sense the others on my left flank, already closing in. I push my feet fasterI must get there before they do or we are lost. In the past few seconds, white netting looms in front of me like a spidery haze, just as a heavy shoulder jolts like a ton of bricks into my side. The breath is knocked out of me as over a hundred pounds of muscle collides into my side with the force of a speeding train. Adrenaline jerks along my limbs and I kick out, blindly swinging the wooden pole in my hand with all the force I can muster. There's nowhere to run, nowhere to go.
It's now or never. I have to strike first or the moment's gone.
The silence stretches into eternity as the momentum of the assault makes me keel backward, my shoulder dangling limply, and then there is nothing but the feeling of falling until the ground rushes up to meet me with an unforgiving crunch. The only sound around me is the rasp of my own labored groans combining with the wheeze of my opponent's. Her eyes are as fierce as mine.
Either way, it's over.
"GOAL!" the crowd cheers wildly just as the buzzer goes off, signaling that it's halftime. It's been one of the most intense games we've played all season. Bishop's is the top-seeded field hockey team in Southern California and if they beat us, we're out. Going into the second half of the game one goal up on them means everything. I roll to my knees, gasping as my cocaptain, center midfielder and best friend, Jenna Pearce, throws herself on top of me, screaming in unbridled delight.
"I don't know how but you did it!" she shouts in my ear. "Getting us ahead at the last minute like that. I love you so hard right now."
"Nice goal, Riss!" someone else yells. "Way to bring the fire!"
The ten-minute halftime in the guest locker room goes quickly. Coach Fenton is pleased that we're ahead, but things can change on a dime especially with a team as aggressive as Bishop's.
Coach clears his throat. "Okay, listen up. First off, great teamwork out there! Offense, follow your striker. Marin's calls on the field and her shot on goal got us here. Let's keep that drive going. Defense, you've been like a vise, let's keep that up. Pearce," he says, glancing at Jenna, "outstanding job manning the midfield line. Smith," he snaps at a tired-looking brunette. "You've been letting your opponent get ahead of you the entire first half. Get your head in the game."
"She's too fast, Coach."
He studies her, frowning. "Then Andrews is in."
Jenna pokes me in the side and raises an eyebrow. Cara Andrewssecond-string right forward, former friend and my current archnemesishas been warming the bench the entire game. She used to be starting striker on the JV team freshman year until I got bumped up from right forward sophomore year. Now she's been relegated to second string on the varsity team. I'd prefer to keep it that way, but it's the coach's call even if Jenna and I are the captains. I grit my teeth and keep my eyes on the coach. Cara's presence on and off the field makes no difference to me.
Coach Fenton takes a long look around at all the sweaty, tired faces in the room. "Keep the momentum going, you earned it with blood and sweat. Don't lose it now. We have a thirty-five-minute half to prove ourselvesshow this team that the first half was just a taste of what we can do. Don't take on any bad fouls and play a clean game. We're the underdogs. Let's own it. Come on, everybody hands in! Bring this home! Fighters on threeone, two, three "
"Fighters!" we all yell in unison.
We troop fiercely onto the field, pumped full of adrenaline and courage. But by the time we're three-quarters of the way through the second half, I'm so winded that I can barely breathe, and that's saying a lot for me. The score is still one-zero with less than a quarter regulation time to go. We have to hold them off for seven more minutes. I glance down the field where Jenna and the center midfielder from Bishop's are faced off in a bully. They thump the ground, then tap their sticks against each other and it's on.
"Kate," I yell to my left forward. "Watch your mark! If the ball comes to you, pass it to me or back to Jenna."
Jenna wins the ball and passes to one of her wingmen, who takes it up the right side of the field. Keeping my eye on my opponent, I charge up the middle just as my teammate passes Kate the ball. As instructed, she sends it my way, but within seconds, I am stormed by three defensive players from Bishop's in some kind of blitz attack.
Dimly, I hear Coach Fenton screaming at me from the sidelines. "Pass it to Andrews, Marin! Andrews is wide-open!
Cara is indeed wide-open, but hell will freeze over before I pass her the ball. I can get the shot without her, even with the blitz. Ignoring the shouts from other teammates and my coach, I shove through the defensive line with otherworldly agility. They're on me like glue and Cara is still open, but I've got the shot that will seal our victory.
My triumph is short-lived as one of the midfielders on the other team sweeps the ball out from under my nose and drives it back up the field, striking it down to her offensive line. Our collective breath stops as their striker takes her shot on goal with seconds to spare before the end of the game. If they score, our chances of holding them off in overtime are slim.
The ball flies through the air as our goalie makes a superhuman dive to the right, taking the hit on her right shoulder and deflecting the shot. Relief floods through me as the buzzer sounds, ending the game. High-fiving Kate, I turn to face a furious Jenna.
"What the hell was that?" Jenna hisses.
"Out there with Cara. You nearly cost us the game. If it were any player but her, you would have passed the ball, and you know it."
"I had the shot," I say, ignoring my sudden surge of anger. "You didn't have a shot."
"We won, didn't we?"
"That's not the point, Rissa. We play as a team. And everyone saw what you did out there."
"No one cares. We won."
But someone does care. I feel the weight of Coach Fen-ton's stare all the way through the handshakes with the other team. He's not happy that I ignored him, but it was my call on the field. I stand by it. He doesn't say anything as I raise my chin in a half-defiant gesture and walk past him to hug our ecstatic goalie.
With a twinge, I see that she clutches her right shoulder on contact. "You okay, Sarah?"
"Best case, bruised. Worst case, dislocated. But either way, totally worth it."
I meet Jenna's eyes, the question in them clear. Was it?
Shrugging, I turn away and, in the next moment, Sarah and I are both picked up and carried along in a tide of girls toward the sidelines, where the bus is waiting to ferry us all back to school. The cheering is deafening for the ten-minute ride and continues into our own locker room. The only girl with a scowl on her face is Cara, but I refuse to let her ruin this moment for me.
"Nice job, Fighters," Coach Fenton says after we shower and gather in the middle of the outer room. "That was close, but you did it. You stayed strong and won us the game. And that kind of teamwork is what makes us Fighters." He doesn't make eye contact with me, but for the briefest of seconds I feel that the last part of his sentence about teamwork is directed my way. I shake it off as a new wave of cheering and hollering makes its way around the room.
"Have a great weekend, team," Coach Fenton says. "You deserve it. See you at practice on Monday."
Grabbing my gym bag on the way out, I join in the whooping as the revelry spills into the hallway. Even with the near-miss, you couldn't wipe the smiles off everyone's facesmaking it to the semifinals is a huge deal for a prep school that hasn't been in the Spring Hockey Tournament playoffs for more than a decade. I'd been recruited into the game during my second day as a freshman at Dover Prep. As much as I hate to admit it, I have Cara to thank for that. Back when we used to be friends, we'd been joined at the hip and she'd insisted that we try out together. We'd both made the JV teamshe as striker, and me as right forward. To me, it'd been a way to pass the time.
The plain truth is I can't participate in any competitive water sports, even though swimming is more my thing than hockey. My guardians warned me about that, and at the time I'd yet to figure out what else I might enjoy. Field hockey fit the bill as well as any other sport, and two and a half years later, I'd become quite good.
More than good, a sneaky inner voice whispers. Starting striker on the varsity team as a junior is pretty much unheard of.
I acknowledge it with a smug grin. My natural athleticism isn't a curseit's a gift. As long as I'm careful and don't draw undue attention to myself, it's a bonus. And it isn't like swimming where I can clock a fifty-foot pool in less than ten seconds, almost half the time of the Olympic world record for freestyle, or hold my breath indefinitely. A smile curls my lip upwardtechnically I'm not holding my breath, but nobody really knows that.
"Riss," a male voice says from behind me as I reach the parking lot. An odd magnetic feeling, as if someone has placed a wet cloak over my skin and is tugging on it at the same time, stops me in my tracks. I turn toward the pull automatically, my body registering its owner a half second before my brain does. Sure enough, the owner of the voiceand the sensationis a tall skinny boy with a shock of blond spiky hair and moss green eyes, holding a skateboard under one arm.
The smile on my face slows and stops altogether as I spot the familiar critical look in his eyes. I sigh. Speio and I used to be so close, but lately, everything I do seems to piss him offfield hockey, my friends, school, all of it. I can't do anything right, and it's getting to the point that he's becoming the nagging older brother everyone assumes he is. I know he means well. After all, his parents are tasked with keeping me safe, but it's not like that's his job.
"We need to talk," he says, and grabs my arm to pull me to a bench across the street. He's barely six months older than I am, but he's strong and his fingers dig painfully into my upper arms.
"Ouch," I mutter, pulling away and rubbing my already reddening skin. "What the hell, Speio?"
"What do you think you're doing?" he says in a low voice.
"What? You mean the game?" I can hear the defensive tone in my own voice as he nods. If Speio called the shots, I would be the kid who sits in the back row at school and never answers any questions or sits in the library all day under a protective tarp in flame-resistant gear. "You followed me to the game at Bishop's?"
"I have to keep an eye on you," he says. "And I saw you. I saw what you did at the end with the three defenders."
"What did I do, Speio? Move a shade faster than normal?" I say as a wave of irritation replaces my earlier defensiveness. "Besides, what does it matter? Your parents are Handlers here. Not you. You don't have to watch me every ten seconds!"
Speio flinches as if I've struck him, but then brushes it off. "I just don't get it. Why do you try so hard to be like them?"
The soft comment strikes an unexpected nerve. "You know why, Speio," I snap more harshly than I intend. "I have to fit in."
My words are sharp but true. I've spent almost my whole life studying the other side, trying to understand humans and learn everything I could about them. And now, living here as a human, I've had to put theory into practice. As a student, I've absorbed everything academic they've thrown at me. As an athlete, I've enjoyed all the games, using my legs to run and my arms to swing a stickthings I'd never before experienced. Here, I've felt free for the first time in my life. Unfettered with who I am.
Now, a year after my father's cryptic message, it seems that I'm only delaying the inevitablefacing what is left of my legacy. The truth is, I don't want to think about any of it. So I'll pretend that what I'm doing is still the same, until someone tells me it's time to go back. And if that day never comes, maybe I'm fine with that, too. I'd rather be here, pretending to be young and carefree, instead of there, where everyone will look to me for the answers I don't have.
My family's legacy and my royal duty.
Speio stares at me. "But that's just it. You don't have to, because we don't belong here. We've been here three years already, and you don't even talk about going back. Waterfell's your home. You have everything there, can't you see that?"
Not anymore. I shake my head firmly. I may have been born in Waterfell, but my father was clear that I should never returnsomeone else was the ruler of our undersea home now. I grit my teeth, raising cold eyes to Speio. "I'm here to learnthis is part of my initiation cycle. You know that. And until I come of age to rule, we stay."
"And then what?" Speio presses. "We go back? You won't even talk about going back, and that's what scares me. Because you don't want to go back, do you?" His eyes widen at my expression. "That's the truth, isn't it? I can see it written all over your face when you're with the humans. But you're not them. Don't you get that?"
My blood rushes in a slow surge at his rising tone. "Careful, Speio," I tell him.
"Why?" he shoots back. "For being honest? You're so selfish, Nerissa."
"I'm selfish?" I repeat carefully, unable to keep the anger from seeping into my voice. Speio is only here because his parents, Echlios and Sorenboth Handlersare sworn to safeguard me. There's nothing he can say that will make them break their blood oaths. It's a fact, but still, something in his last words sneaks under my skin, unsettling me. Maybe because there's truth in what he says or maybe I'm still rattled from Jenna's accusations on the field. "Why am I selfish?"
"Because this is all about you," he says. "You don't care about anyone but yourself."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Okay at first the story seems interesting and then you find out about the character she to me seems like a spoiled brat who thinks she owns the world I am not really a person who writes negative reviews I would rather be positive but I am breaking my rules for this one the book isn't really interesting it brought nothing really new to the world of mermaids so I wouldn't really want to recommend this book to anyone I know unless it was someone I didn't like
Can't wait for the next one!
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Harlequin teen and Netgalley.) 16-year-old Nerissa looks like a normal human girl, but is actually a sea-creature taking on the form of a human. Nerissa is also royalty within her kind, and with her father murdered, she’s the rightful heir to the throne, but things aren’t that simple. While Nerissa is living among humans and going to school, someone else has taken her throne, and it’s up to Nerissa to get it back – if she wants to that is. Nerissa isn’t sure that she wants to be queen, and she’s not sure she wants to go back to her home of Waterfell, to the place where her father was killed. Her subjects are relying on her though. When Nerissa meets Lo, a new boy at school, she’s attracted to him even though she doesn’t want to be, and slowly she begins to fall for him. Can Nerissa reclaim her throne? Can she defeat the false queen who has taken her place? And can she have Lo when she might have to leave him behind? This was an okay paranormal romance, but I liked the romance a lot more than I liked the rest of the storyline. Nerissa was an okay character, and I kind of admired her for her decision not to go back to Waterfell after her father’s death. If she didn’t want the responsibility of being queen, and didn’t want to go back to the place that reminded her of her murdered father, then fair enough. I did think that she really showed her true colours as we got further into the book though, and showed her royal breeding. The storyline in this was okay, but I did get a bit bored in places. It reminded me a little of ‘Of Poseidon’ what with the sea creatures living on land, and sharks etc. but it did have its differences too. There was some action, but I just didn’t feel all that interested unfortunately. While the storyline wasn’t captivating at the beginning, what I did like about this book was the romance. The way that Nerissa and Lo were together was just so sweet! I loved the way they flirted and the way they grew to love each other, and the moments where they were together were just lovely. I really loved the sweet romance, and it totally kept me reading past the boring bits. The ending to this one was okay, but I wish I hadn’t read the last two pages, because something that happened between Lo and Nerissa ruined the happily ever after ending. I know that this is a series, and I get that the author wants us to want the second book, but with that romance I want it anyway! Overall; an okay fishy tale, with a sweet and lovely romance. 7.5 out of 10
Alien water species, assassinations and royals, oh my! Waterfell by Amalie Howard is an awe-inspiring tale of a young Aquarathi princess living among humans for both safety and her years of training to get to know the land dwellers, or humans, of Earth. The Aquarathi are an alien race that came to Earth eons ago for a new home. They live in the depths of the ocean, far away from humans, so that they do not know they are there. Saving the ocean, however, is one of their main concerns. Nerissa Marin is the heir apparent, but her father was murdered and now those same people wishing to gain the throne are after her. Surrounded by loyal protectors and even more loyal human friends she must decide what she really wants from her life and if she is willing to fight the crown that is rightfully hers. Nerissa for me is the perfect teenage character. She flip flops so many times about what she really wants to do, whether that is being queen or remaining on land with humans. At first she doesn't want any of the responsibility but over time she understands the impact she can have on not only the people she loves but of her people. It took her time to realize what a symbol she could be in her world, and that seemed normal. Whether you're fish or human, at that age it's hard to figure what you want to do with the rest of your life, let alone save a race of people. The fact that she was so grounded really appealed to me an made it seem natural for her to question things and sometimes even through hissy fits. The world and races, however, are what made this book fascinating. The way the author tells a tale of underwater worlds and the how the Aquarathi look was fascinating. When Nerissa transforms into her fish-like self, I could picture every shimmering scale that she had and almost count every gigantic razor-sharp tooth she had in her mouth. Add to that detail the people around Nerissa and the relationships that they all have with each other and Waterfell is book that lacks nothing. Drama, heart-break, passion, intensity, tragedy and bite are all accounted for in Nerissa's story and this world is rife with more stories to be told!
I want to thank Harlequin Teen for providing me with an eARC of this book to read and give an honest review. Receiving this book for free has in no way influenced my opinion or review. So, I knew I wanted to read this book when it was written by Amalie Howard. And then once the cover was revealed, I about fell out of my seat. And then I read the blurb, yes, I admit, on this book I read the blurb (I know I don't usually do it). But I had to see what it was about. And boy, was I intrigued. Anything having to do with a kingdom under the sea has my attention immediately! Blurb: Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day she can claim her birthright—the undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weapon—until her father's betrayer confronts Nerissa and challenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa's upcoming birthday—the day she comes of age. Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa's mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpin that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her? So, can we get back to this AMAZING cover. I mean look at it. I just want to swoon all over it. The colors are totally gorgeous. The contrast between being under water and looking at this beautiful girl, well, that right there makes me want to pick up the book. I love covers, and beautiful covers, well, I love those even more! So, yeah, even if I didn't know it was by Howard and I didn't read the blurb, pretty sure I would have grabbed this off the shelf. I can honestly say that this book was not what I was expecting. I'll be honest and say that the first bit of the book (probably the first two or three chapters) didn't totally catch my attention. But once the book started to really delve into the story, and the characters personalities started to emerge, I was hooked. Nerissa is a very strong young woman. She knows what is expected of her and tries her hardest not to deviate. She keeps her distance as best she can from humans because she knows that eventually her time among them will need to come to an end. For this reason she certainly comes off as a bit selfish and quite judgmental. But I was honestly able to overlook these flaws and see beyond the "teenage" facade. Nerissa was a much deeper character than she appeared on the surface. She is saddled with the burden that she must one day lead her people, which I can't imagine is easy for one so young. She's stubborn and ruthless when the need arises. But she also softens and opens to her closest friends and of course her family. Lo is an amazing character. He's sweet and strong and totally romantic. I love how he makes Rissa feel like she's the only one in the world when he's with her. At the same time he has this idiotic notion that Rissa should become chummy with her "enemy" and this does not sit well at all. I never fully understood his motives to try and pull them closer together. Despite his idiotic notion he is completely swoon worthy and adorable. But, like Rissa, he has secrets of his own that he doesn't want to share. But don't underestimate him, because he'll surprise you for sure. Jenna is a great character as Rissa's best friend. I love how she totally trusts Rissa even when it might cost her her life. She knows where her loyalties lie. Speio on the other hand seems the loyal friend, but you'll be surprised at what lies up his sleeve. If you're thinking this is your typical under the sea mermaid story, then hold on to your seats because it is anything but. While you might think Rissa's underwater kingdom will be something out of The Little Mermaid, you will be surprised to find that there is much more to Rissa's people than their ability to spend time under the water. I did love how Howard created this world below the water for us, but just out of our reach. The story is really quite focused on the land aspect and on Rissa's human form. I'm very curious about Rissa's under water home and I hope to see more of it in the second book. Amalie's writing is brilliant. While the first few chapters did come across slow for me, that didn't last. Once the story took off, I could not put this book down (well maybe for sleep, work, meals and to listen to my kids once in a while, but other than that...)! I loved Rissa's voice, how she came off as strong and powerful, yet Howard still made her just a little bit weak and needy, with a touch of angst thrown in. And the writing really flows right off the page and hooks you into wanting to find out just what is going to happen next. Howard fills the story with adventure, honor and romance and then she throws in betrayal which digs a knife right into your side when you were least expecting it. I can honestly say that she kept me in mystery, but not so much that I was annoyed, it was just enough to really make me want to know exactly what was going on! The most interesting part of this book is the mythology and world building. Yes, it incorporates things you think about as mermaid, but it's so much more. It's about other beings and what is out there beyond what we know. It's about believing that life is not strictly centered on Earth alone. But you'll have to dive in to really understand the world of the Aquarathi. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you're looking for something in the mermaid genre, but your ok with going in a bit of a sic-fi route, then this is the book for you. Full of friendhip and loyalty, it's a book that really teaches you to be who you are and to accept it's ok to just be that person. You'll be surprised by just how much courage this actually takes! 5/5 fist bumps!