Title: Natural Instincts
Author: M. Raiya
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 54 Pages
At a Glance: Strange but good story involving mythology, a mathematical genius, and a loon
Blurb: Most people would consider near perfect recall, an ability to crunch numbers that rivals a computer’s, and an uncanny knack for predicting the stock market to be remarkable gifts. But for Kyle, those abilities also curse him to recall every moment of his horrible, abusive past. Searching for an escape, he takes his therapist’s advice and leaves his finance job behind for a weeklong camping trip on a remote lake in Vermont. He’s not sure how a week in seclusion with nothing but his own thoughts for company will be the reprieve he needs. Then he stumbles across a man engaged in a pagan ritual and is drawn into mysteries he never dreamed existed, and realizes nature is more distracting than he thought.
Review: I’m not quite sure where to start with this review, as this novella was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. There’s a little bit of everything in it: contemporary romance, BDSM, mythology, shape-shifting (but not really), and angst. M. Raiya takes a unique concept and crams it into 54 all too short pages.
Kyle is a sympathetic character who has suffered horrendous tragedies in his past. I mean, it seems like misfortune has a knack for finding him, and as a result, he doesn’t speak. Ever. Not one line of dialogue from the book is his, although the book is told from his point of view. He decides to go on a camping trip to get away from everything and ends up changing his entire life.
Things happen too quickly in this novella, and I really wish it had been longer. There were so many interesting aspects that I wanted to know more about, but there wasn’t enough time. The romance that happens between Kyle and Jon is incredibly fast. Kyle is only there for a day or so, and they have a connection and are in love. Sure there’s some ancient magic involved, and it is explained a bit, but a longer explanation would have made it more believable.
I did enjoy the twist on Ancient Greek mythology. I found that part fascinating and wish there had been more. The same with Jon’s history and the whole loon aspect. Loons are my favorite birds and seeing them get the spotlight in a story was pretty awesome. I understand where Kyle was coming from with being haunted by their song. Spending summers in Maine, I heard them often and they haunt me as well with their cries. And Raiya’s description of them is spot on.
If the story had alternated between Kyle and Jon, it would have been all the stronger for it. If the author chose to write more exploring the relationship between the two, or expanded on Jon’s story, I would definitely read it.
You can buy Natural Instincts here: