Mermaid by Max EllendaleMermaid by Max Ellendale is a lesbian romance that shows it’s possible to learn to love yourself while finding love with someone else.

Veronica Baird is back in Seattle, hoping to build a new life for herself and her daughter, Finnley. Thankfully, one of her best friends is not only able to offer a roof over their heads, she even gives Vee the chance to go back to being a hairstylist now that an injury sustained in the line of duty left her unable to return to police work.

As grateful as Vee is for their chance at a new life, it doesn’t come easily. She can’t fathom getting on her feet on her own—even though her friends Jordan and Alice have made it clear that she doesn’t have to—and that includes getting into a romantic relationship. So, Vee finds it hard to believe that their friend Scarlett could interested in her. After all, Scarlett is a pediatrician who’s warm, funny, and smoking hot.

Except Scarlett is interested in Vee, she’s not scared away by the fact that Vee comes with a kid in tow, and she’s not afraid of Vee’s injury either. Can Vee truly accept a happily ever after for her and Finnley with their friends and Scarlett?

The Characters

Mermaid is Vee’s book, told entirely in the first person from her perspective. She’s in a dark place for much of it, having to reconcile the life she’s lost with the life she’s building now. Luckily she’s surrounded by wonderful people, including Scarlett, her friends, Finnley, and even Finn’s dad, Anthony. They all have infinite love and patience for her, and are the perfect support system to help her on her journey of healing, both physically and emotionally.

Scarlett is a wonderful counterpart for Vee and I’d love to see a story from her perspective. She has such an amazing heart and I adored how she built a relationship with Finn as she was falling in love with Vee, so they made a strong family unit. Also, she’s a French Canadian, and I am aaaall about that!

Fans of Rabbit, Wildrose and Ellendale’s Four Point Trilogy will be happy to see familiar faces return in this book. That said, you don’t have to have read them to understand anything in Mermaid; I’ve only read Rabbit and had no issues.

The Writing Style

Mermaid is a much gentler read than Rabbit, since there isn’t any real angst in Scarlett and Vee’s relationship. Instead, the tension comes from other places, which made for a nice change of pace (I am who I am, and I don’t always want to see couples break up before their HEA).

At nearly 400 pages, it’s longer than most lesfic stories, so all the plot lines have room to breathe and no loose strings are left hanging.

The Pros

As much as I loved Scarlett and Vee’s romance, the friendships in this book stole the show for me. Jordan and Alice are the soft place Vee falls back on when she first gets back to Seattle, and Scarlett becomes the home Vee needs, fitting seamlessly into her friendship network. It was also nice to see that Anthony isn’t a douchey ex and instead is another a very close friend to Vee. It’s the perfect representation of found family and I loved it.

Also, I’m so glad that I remember enough of the French I learned in high school to understand when Scarlett starts telling Vee “Je veux t’épouser.” That made my heart happy every single time.

The Cons

One thing bothered me enough that it pulled me out of the book every time I read it. Finnley is 9 years old and even turns 10 during the story, and Vee keeps picking her up and sometimes even carries her around. 10 year olds are way too big for that, even for someone with a strong back, and at one point Vee even carries her up a flight of stairs when her back is incredibly vulnerable. Finn rang true in every other way as a kid, so that stood out as especially off.

Also, while I wouldn’t call these cons as much as content warnings, there are references to rape, child endangerment, and a trans kid is bullied by some other kids and is misgendered by his mom.

The Conclusion

Mermaid is an enjoyable read and I appreciated seeing how Vee grew thanks to the love of all the people around her. If you like romances with happily ever afters that are really well established, this will be a perfect book for you. I’m glad I was able to read this book and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next from Ellendale.

Excerpt from Mermaid by Max Ellendale

My attention turned to the front door when a shadow appeared outside. The jingle sounded and a woman stepped in, brushing the damp hood of her jacket from her head. I plastered my best customer service smile on my face and ran my fingers through my hair before quickly checking the book.

The surname in the four-thirty appointment spot brought a pause to my greeting. How badly would I slaughter the pronunciation? What if it wasn’t French, but some sort of American hybrid name?

A finger appeared on the page next to mine, startling me. “It’s Fournier,” she said, drawing out the sounds belonging to the French origin. “But I answer better to Scarlett.”

“Oh…” I looked up, starting when I recognized her. “Oh God, I’m sorry. Wait—”

She laughed, her warm brown eyes shimmering with amusement. “Hi, Vee.”

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Bits and Bobs

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