There were no rations aboard the small boat, no sails, not even rows. It was just a plain old little dinghy. Lamark was surely doomed to perish out in the middle of the ocean. The only question was whether he would starve or be shark food.
His absolute failure as a pirate loomed over him like a storm cloud.
He couldn’t swashbuckle, pillage, or plunder. Swabbing the decks, one of the simplest tasks, caused him regular injuries. He couldn’t snarf grog like a regular pirate, unless he wanted to accidentally hurt himself or others.
He couldn’t even swim.
Ramey was right. Lamark really was the Failure Phalen, the most clumsy and mocked pirate on the seas.
That’s how Lamark would be known, were his name to appear in any recountings at all, which he knew was unlikely. No one would remember the clumsy, useless, lowly Lamark.
Letting out a heavy breath, Lamark leaned back in the boat, resting his hands behind his head and pulling his hat over his eyes to keep the sun out of them. He was jolted from his doze when the boat jostled. He yipped and sat up quickly, only to find the dinghy had hit a solitary rock in the ocean. No land around.
When Lamark turned to survey the damage to the dinghy, praying there were no leaks, he gasped at the sight of a person restrained in some netting caught on the rocks.
Wait… Was that a man? He had a shimmering green tail in place of where his legs ought to be.
Merpeople were just old sailor’s tales, stories told to young naive sailors and children. Or so Lamark had always thought.
Yet here he was staring right at a merman in the flesh—and fins.
Bits of his hair were matted against his face, partially dry from being above water for so long. His deep, sea blue eyes were wide with fright, and his chest rose up and down at an alarming rate. He was scared to death, the poor mate.
How did he even get into this mess, caught up in these nets and out here all alone?
Lamark pulled his dagger from his belt, and the merman’s pants grew more panicked. He wriggled desperately in the nets, trying to get free.
“Shh, it’s okay, mate.” He held up his hands in a surrendering gesture before the thought occurred to him the merman might not understand what they meant. “I’m just gonna cut you free, that’s all.”
Lamark cooed softly to him as he moved the knife closer and began to cut the rope slowly. Once the merman understood this, he appeared to calm down.
Once the netting was almost cut through though, the merman began to struggle again.
“Hey, hey, take it easy there, mate!” He placed a hand on the merman’s shoulder to steady him.
A shrill screech came from the merman’s mouth, making Lamark jump out of his skin. He lost what little balance he had in the rocking boat and toppled into the water, and just his luck, he’d taken the net with him and lost his dagger in the process.
Of course, even if he had his dagger to cut himself free, Lamark would just sink like an anchor. That’s what always happened when he was in deep water, despite repeated attempts by his father to teach him to swim.
He screamed, a muffled, useless cry into the growing darkness of the water. The water around him shifted, and he caught a glimpse of the merman’s green, scaly tail swimming away, leaving Lamark to sink into the depths.
So, this was it. He was going to drown, all because he tried to save a merman’s life. He’d heard once that saving a merperson would grant one a wish. Seemed that wasn’t true.
This merman had left him to drown.
Flailing his arms and legs, Lamark made a pitiful attempt to propel himself upward to no avail. Lamark even tried screaming again, despite knowing that would do him little good except causing him to lose precious air from his lungs. There was no one who’d hear him.
His legs locked up on him, as they always seemed to do when he was submerged in water. He remembered his father chiding him for it during a swimming lesson.
“No, no, you’ve gotta move your legs too, son.”
“But I can’t,” Lamark sniveled. “They’re stuck.”
“I’d think you’d be a natural at this…” His father said softly, words Lamark never discerned the meaning behind.
He closed his eyes tight, shutting out the heartache at the memory, and waited for his end.
Something touched his cheeks. Lamark tried to open his eyes again, but the stinging was too much. Arms closed around his waist before he lost consciousness.
Luck has never been on Lamark’s side.
After his father’s untimely death, the new captain casts Lamark off the ship, leaving him in a dinghy in the middle of the ocean. Lamark is sure his life is over.
In a stroke of luck, Lamark encounters a merman, who saves him from drowning and brings him to a deserted island. Lamark quickly learns that on this mysterious island, not everything is as it seems, and danger lurks in every nook. This island may very well be the death of him.
Adventure, romance, and maybe some swashbuckling await Lamark, so long as he’s not too lily-livered to venture into the deep…
Into the Deep is a 45k pirate fantasy adventure novel with a heavy helping of slapstick comedy and a sweet, steamy m/m romance.
This was a cute adventure love story. Poor Lamark had the worst luck but it played well into the storyline. This was an easy and fast read and while there were a couple things I wanted more explanation or closure on, I was happy with the storyline. Yuvie was super endearing with his enthusiasm, and I wish we could have gotten his POV just because I think it would have been super fun. I wish that Lamark could have gotten revenge on a few pirates but he also was a sweet character and I am not sure it would have fit in with his personality. There were some sad moments, especially regarding Lamark’s father but it gave more depth to his character. Overall I enjoyed this story and really liked the way it ended!
ARC courtesy of the author and Bayou Book Junkie; a review was not a requirement.
Amara is addicted to music and gets the most inspiration from moving songs and lyrics. When not writing, Amara usually reads, listens to podcasts, watches anime, plays a video game here and there (but mostly collects them), and takes way too many cat pictures.
Amara is non-binary/enby and queer and uses they/them pronouns.
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