by Lauren Connolly
Series: Folk Have #0.5
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Source: the author
She’s here to claim her mate. So, why is she looking at his best friend?
Isla Brown saw the will of the Gods when they revealed her fated partner at the age of sixteen. But who needs to rush into a mating that young? Older now, Isla has returned to her childhood home on Lake Galen and is ready to build a life with her selkie mate. But she’s having trouble concentrating on that goal with a certain human constantly staring at her. And making her laugh. And tempting her to stray from her fated path.
The night he almost killed her, he discovered her secret.
Finn Hammond knows Isla is a selkie. He also knows that he doesn’t deserve her. Not after an almost fatal mistake he made years ago. But when they both find themselves at a lake side party, Finn can’t help mooning over her the way he has since they were in highschool together. And when she offers him the opportunity to dive deep into a single night of passion, he can’t find the will to walk away.
But a new day brings honesty, and when secrets are revealed, both Isla and Finn must choose a different future.
***A Selkie's Secret is a free giveaway in Lauren Connolly's newsletter as of October 26, 2021***
I read a lot of paranormal romances, and while I’m always up for some werewolves or vampires or witches, it’s always nice to find something new. Selkies aren’t one I’ve read about a lot, though I know the traditional myth is pretty sad. Luckily, this is a sweet and rather fluffy PNR that left me with a big smile. In case you’re wondering why there’s no buy links above, this novella is a newsletter freebie and a prequel to the Folk Haven series.
As a teen, Isla was rescued by a family friend, Owen, when she was hit by a boat in her selkie form. Ever since, she’s accepted that, according to selkie lore, he’s her fated mate. Now, at thirty and with her PhD completed, Isla’s accepted it’s time to work on her personal goals. First on the list? Collecting her fated mate. But seducing him is proving harder than she expected, especially when she keeps getting distracted by the all-too-human Finn…
“If only I were charming, I could attempt to dazzle him with my wit. Or if I were funny, I might try a joke.
Why can’t I woo a selkie mate by presenting him a well-formatted résumé? My academic and professional accolades are numerous and impressive when typed in a bulleted list.”
Two things drew me in immediately: Isla’s voice, and the twist on fated mates. While it’s told from both Isla and Finn’s perspectives, Isla’s is the first we meet, and I was drawn in from the first page. Isla’s practical, and once she makes up her mind about the correct course of action, she does it, whether that’s getting her PhD or winning her mate. And while it’s not set out explicitly in the text, Isla struck me as neurodivergent. She avoids the usual social touching and has trouble recognizing jokes. While Isla’s bluntness is played for humor, it never felt mean-spirited and certainly no one suggests she should act different. Finn, in fact, finds her honesty hot. He’s been attracted to her since high school and knows her well enough to know how to keep her attention: vague questions to prolong their conversations, as she likes everything precise, or asking about the local dam. But there are reasons he knows he can’t take it any further, no matter how much he’s drawn to her. Isla’s also been aware of Finn since they were teens, but she’s decided that it’s just in service to getting him to talk to Owen about her. Any sort of relationship between them wouldn’t work anyway. Isla’s parents set a lot of rules for her as a child, mostly around fear of what would happen if humans found out about the mythical creatures in their mist. But that doesn’t stop her eyes from searching him out every time they’re in the same room (or lake) or using the flimsiest excuse to hop in bed with him. They’re so hot and sweet together, and the consent was lovely.
“With her blunt way of speaking, most everyone considers her to be robotic. Cold.
But she’s just honest.
And that honesty heats me up. Like everything else about her.”
While I’m drawn to the fated-mates trope, often times the way it works sets my hackles up. In this case, it’s clear that what it means is that there’s some sort of cosmic push for two people to be together, it’s not necessarily something that just falls into your lap. The selkie tradition, considered a bit outdated by many, is that their fated mate will rescue them from danger. As the book progresses, it’s crystal clear to the reader who Isla’s fated mate is… but watching Isla catch on is absolutely delightful.
As for everything else, I loved the side characters, including the whole MacNamara clan, who it looks like the rest of the series will be about. The town of Folk Haven was interesting as well. Situated around Lake Galen in Georgia, it has a higher mythic population than anywhere else in the world, which seems to lend itself to lots more unusual types turning up in the rest of the series. There’s even a fun hint about the next book’s couple in the epilogue.
Overall, this was a sweet, quick read, and I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the series!