“Immersed in Pleasure” is a fairly quick erotic short story that delves into a theme that I’ll admit I haven’t read that much into. At first I thought the premise was about a woman working as a designated “mermaid” at an exclusive club – like part of a group of women who were entertainers. Then I read further into the story and realized that she actually IS a mermaid, among a collective group. I think if you’re into paranormal pairings in this genre, this story might appeal to you the most. Despite the writing in this being tight with a decent flow, I was a little put off by how much cheese there was. The sensuality’s appropriate, and the coupling makes sense with some nice bits of character interaction and development in spurts, but I felt that it was trying too much to drive home some of the encounters. I think part of this might be in the way the story’s told, but at the same time – I’m tempted to say that some of the scenes could’ve stood well on their own without too many not-so-subtle references.
Yeah, The Little Mermaid is referenced in here, as is Go Fish.
So the hero of this story, Derek Prince (unfortunate naming, but I suspended disbelief on that note), waits for his belated girlfriend Ireland to show up. He meets the mysterious Xenia in the meantime. Xenia claims to be a mermaid right off the bat, and Derek’s entranced by her unique physical beauty. The reader learns that Xenia is a part of a group of mermaids that are paired and paid to not have sex, employed by the club owner in a well-to-do atmosphere. They’re free to do what they will – some move on to other occupations and relationships after their employment there.
Derek claims he can’t be with Xenia despite his initial feelings for her. He’s conflicted because he’s in a relationship with Ireland, and after some encounters, Derek realizes he doesn’t feel anything for Ireland and makes moves to break it off with her. That progressed a bit quick for me, because apart from the physical attraction, Derek didn’t initially have any more chemistry with Ireland than he did with Xenia, and Ireland wasn’t presented as likable from the get-go. As the story continues, we learn a little more about Xenia’s life and circumstances. That was a nice touch compared to some of the stories I’ve read in this genre, though we don’t really get an idea of Derek’s history other than the account in which he’s telling his friends about his “hooking up” with Xenia. There’s a bit of telling versus showing in spurts, but considering the way the story’s structured as a personal narrative on Derek’s part, I didn’t have a problem with it. In the end, it progresses the storyline to show whether or not Xenia and Derek are willing to give each other a go as far as their relationship is concerned. There were parts I thought Reisz had a good handle on character dialogue, humor, and interaction, and I’d like to read more from her in the future when it comes to that note. The story, unfortunately, didn’t quite click with me for reasons mentioned, though I don’t doubt there are people who will likely enjoy this quick sensual read more than I did.
Overall score: 2/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Harlequin.