Book Review: Catch and Release by Isabel Murray

Joe and his friend Jerry find a merman washed up on the beach, but he turns out to be very much alive and interested in Joe, though not so fond of Jerry, judging from the way he tries to kill him. After a seduction involving lots of frustration and dead sea creatures, Joe finds himself falling for the man, but their communication barrier and differing survival needs complicate things.

Book Cover - Catch and Release by Isabel Murray
Title: Catch and Release
My Rating: 4 Stars
More Info: Goodreads // Amazon


This was so funny, the romance was surprisingly believable given the weird situation, and the characters were fun, including (or especially) the inhuman merman!

Honestly, a big part of why this worked for me was that Joe was demisexual. I’d just had a string of bad luck with m/m romance books in which characters were immediately thinking about or having sex upon meeting, and that became the sole focus of the relationship, which generally isn’t my thing. But Joe wasn’t immediately thinking about wanting to have sex with the scary, horny merman, the romance and sex took a bit of time, and that made a big difference for me in being able to understand, feel, and believe the feelings between them.

And the romance was surprisingly believable, given the weird premise. It was such a weird situation, these two couldn’t even communicate properly (it went beyond just a language barrier, since it wasn’t like they could use translators even), but I don’t know, it just worked. Sometimes feelings are just like that, they happen regardless of logic, and the author captured that and made me believe it, which is something not every author or book is able to do for me.

I loved how inhuman Dave (the merman) was. Sure, he looked mostly human, but he was very much not. He didn’t speak, except to mimic some of the things Joe said most often, although he sometimes didn’t know what they meant. He didn’t understand human customs or technology. He had his own customs, like wooing Joe by bringing him dead sea creatures as gifts. He never quite understood the friendship between Joe and Jerry. He didn’t fully understand human physiology, which touched upon the idea that maybe merfolk have the bad rap they do because they want to be close to humans but end up killing them by accident. It was a great portrayal of a non-human character that was humorous while still being believable rather than over the top.

Speaking of humorous, this book was so funny! Jerry was especially hilarious. He was the most unrealistic thing, but he gets a pass because he made me laugh.

There was also emotion and angst and longing. Their path to romance wasn’t the smoothest. I felt for them. It’s a bit of an atypical romance, almost kind of bittersweet. *SPOILER* Dave has to leave for like half the year, for merman reasons, and since they can’t communicate with language, Joe doesn’t know where he goes, or whether they’re eventually going to age differently. But they both know that, every time, Joe will wait, and Dave will come back to him, as long as they’re both able. *END SPOILER*

Overall, this was funny and great with unexpected demisexual rep, an inhuman merman, a bit of angst and longing, and a surprisingly believable and touching romance that I really enjoyed!

*Rating: 4 Stars // Read Date: 2022 // Format: Ebook via TTS*


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