Book Review: Beneath the Surface, by M.A. Church


Beneath the Surface, by M.A. Church
Publisher: OmniLit/AllRomanceEbooks
Release Date: April 1, 2016

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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The last thing Nisha expects while patrolling his territory is to find his mate, but his instincts tell him the handsome human diving into the surf is the one meant for him. Two bites and Kannon will be joined to him forever. But when Kannon’s father disrupts the mating process, Nisha releases his claim, hoping beyond hope his mate will one day return.

While free diving with his father, Kannon is bitten by a seductive merman. Although he swore to never go near the ocean again, the pull to return to the water and his mystery man remains strong. Finally, after fifteen years away, an impromptu wedding brings Kannon back to the Seychelles, and his destiny.

Kannon only plans to stay on the island for a week, but this time Nisha won’t let his mate go without a fight. Merfolk and human culture collide as the embers of Nisha and Kannon’s mate bond ignite, and Nisha must complete the mating before it’s too late.


M/M Pairing
Gay Characters
Mythological Creature (Merfolk)

Warnings For:
Dubious Consent

* see review


I wanted to much to like this novel. It sounded like so much fun, and a romance with mermaids sounded like a great way to pass a warm, sunny spring afternoon!

But this novel has some serious issues with it that I couldn’t overlook, even though I actually did really like Kannon and the (cheesy, but delightfully so!) plot.

Here’s the biggest one: there is a gratuitous noncon sex scene early in the book. One of the characters rapes (and I choose to read it as rape, because no option to consent was given) the other while he is asleep, before they even meet, after drugging him. Because they’re mates and he couldn’t resist. I got a sick feeling in my stomach reading that, but a secondary character confronted the rapist immediately after and pointed out that it was nonconsensual. So I thought, “Maybe this will be addressed further. Maybe there was a reason for it.”


So there’s that.

There’s also a back-and-forth emotional roller coaster from Kannon, the human who finds himself mated to a merman. And there was no emotional satisfaction for the reader, no scenes with Kannon working through that; it was just sloppily hand-waved away because mates.

That right there should’ve been enough to make Kannon flee in the opposite direction, but it wasn’t. Nisha was powerful, with a naturally dominant personality, but it didn’t worry him. That was just who Nisha was.

Yeah… nah.

So let me tell you quickly what I did like, so you can see why I tried to enjoy this novel:

  • Detailed anatomy of a non-human creature. I love reading pairings where the non-human is shown to be, well, not human! Nisha has a very different biology that Kannon, and that does get explored, which I found fascinating!
  • A bit of angst. After Kannon’s first disastrous meeting with Nisha as a teen, he stays away from the ocean for 15 years in fear, and has to work himself back up to revisiting it. I loved this plot point!
  • A fun, lighthearted pairing. I like novels that I don’t have to take seriously, because they’re just sweet and a cheesy.

If that one rape scene was removed, I would be inclined to love this novel a hell of a lot more.


M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spend her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding my numerous shifters, or trying to tempt my country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it! When not writing, she’s exploring the latest M/M novel to hit the market, watching her beloved Steelers, or sitting glued to HGTV.

You can find MA on her blog: or on Twitter (@nomoretears00) or Facebook.

You can buy Beneath the Surface from ARe!

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I received a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.


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