Review of Water Bound by Christine Feehan

Water Bound by Christine Feehan Book One of the Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart series
Published - 27 July 2010
Source - Personal Library
Christine Feehan’s #1 New York Times bestselling Hidden Currents may have closed the Drake Sisters saga—which “brought paranormal romance to a new high”*--but it has opened the door to an all~new series of startling magic, mystery, and the soul~stirring elements of nature….
The last thing Lev Prakenskii remembered was being lost in the swirling currents of the ocean and getting sucked deeper into the nothingness of a freezing black eddy off the coastal town of Sea Haven. Just as quickly, just a miraculously, he was saved—pulled ashore by a beautiful stranger. But Lev has no memory of who he is—or why he seems to possess the violent instincts of a trained killer. All he knows is that he fears for his life, and for the life of his unexpected savior.
Her name is Rikki, a sea~urchin diver in Sea Haven. She has always felt an affinity for the ocean, and for the seductive pull of the tides. And now she feels drawn in the same way to the enigmatic man she rescued. But soon they will be bound by something even stronger, and their tantalizing secrets will engulf them both in a whirlpool of dizzying passion and inescapable danger.
Rikki Sitmore is an autistic sea-urchin diver who lives on a farm in Sea Haven with her surrogate sisters who saved her from herself years ago. One day whilst she's harvesting the spiny creatures off of a shelf along the San Andreas Fault, a massive wave comes out nowhere and throws Rikki off of her boat. Midway through her battle back to the surface, she encounters a man being battered against the underwater rocks along the shelf wall. In a split-second decision, Rikki saves the man from falling further into the fault line, risking her own life in the process. Rikki is a believer in the old laws, especially that of the sea. If you take it from the sea, it's yours. and Lev Parenskii is hers, come hell, fire, or damnation.
Lev is a foreign secret agent, taken from his family as a child and trained to be the dark hand of his government. While on assignment, Lev ends up underwater in the Pacific Ocean with no rescue in sight. Just as he resigns himself to a watery death, he's rescued by a woman who takes him home to recuperate. He quickly falls in love with this autistic woman with an affinity for water, but he knows that finding their Happily Ever After is going to be a bit harder than a dime-store romance novel.
Rikki has a rash of fire and death in her past and things have to work for her or she shuts down and Lev has his entire existence in the way, having to remember who he is and then making sure he remains dead to his country. Separate, the two have special abilities, and together, the pair can work wonders but are their unique gifts enough to survive everything the fates have thrown at them?
I have started and restarted writing this review dozens of time in its lifetime. I want to gush and be emotional. And I want to be distanced from it all, all professional-like. I've struggled to find a happy medium to do this review because I want y'all to see how amazing this book is. And I can't. I am emotionally vested in this book and I am definitely not a literary professional as of yet. So here it is.
Water Bound hit the quadfecta for me. I found the book because it was written by Christine Feehan, a favourite author. I took it off the shelf for the title. I fell in love with the cover and the synopsis teased me. Author, Title, Cover, Synopsis. I immediately bought the book and I began reading it as soon as I got home and safely ensconced myself in my closet (I like reading in closets). And then, dearest readers, I read the book.
Water Bound shoved its way to the tippy top of my favourite books list with the first chapter. Why? Because for the first time ever, I had a book whose heroine I could relate to. An autistic woman with tragedy in her past that thought herself a monstrous freak. I cried reading Water Bound that night and I'm not a crying person. Not only was Rikki an autistic woman, but she was intelligent, not centring herself around math and science (which I strongly avoid), and she was mistreated by 'the system' for being different. Because Christine Feehan normalised autism by having an autistic heroine, I stopped hating being different and began to love myself, autism and all. I even started dating, which I’d sworn never to do because, ew, commitment and close personal contact with a person bother me.
Christine Feehan’s descriptions were exceptional, as always. I was enchanted with the vivid description of the underwater seascape that Rikki was so in love with. I was repeatedly reminded of the times when I was younger that I would climb out of my bedroom window at night to sit on the roof and just enjoy every raindrop that fell on my skin, something I haven’t done in over a decade.
I know this isn’t a new(ish) book or a yet-to-be-released book, but I’ve seen some disparaging reviews on Goodreads and Amazon that griped about Christine focusing on Rikki’s autistic qualities and her fascination with water and I felt the need to switch my review schedule about so that I could dedicate today’s review to this book that me feel a little bit more normal than I usually do. Writing from a point of view that isn’t neurotypical is hard – even for someone who is neurodiverse, trust me, I’ve tried. And the fact that Christine not only attempted to write from Rikki’s POV and give her a HEA, but succeeded in describing that special place we all disappear to during our ‘moments out of time’ and the frustrations of not being able to do ‘normal’ things like grocery shopping or hugging your family, it matters to me and any other reader on the spectrum. She constantly brings up Rikki’s ‘weird traits and obsessions’ because that’s a thing with us. We obsess and ‘space out’ and we stim and fidget. Many of us don’t do actual eye contact and some of us develop fake-out methods such as sunglasses or staring at a person’s nose. We have sensory issues and we have to have things just so or our entire worlds go off-kilter. For someone who isn’t an Own Voices writer (that I know of), she manages far better than certain popular TV shows to showcase autistic characters with a realness few authors achieve when writing characters with disabilities.
I give Water Bound a whole 5 stars because it is well-written and the research she put into the storyline shows from the succulent plants outside of Rikki’s home to her accurate portrayal of an autistic woman to the diving scenes that are fully developed without glossing over the 'technical' side of diving.
Oh, and I actually own three copies of this book. One is so tattered that its cover is duck taped to the binding which is also duck taped, I bought that one fresh off the shelf the first month it was available in my go-to chain bookstore in Georgia. Then I finally had the money last month to buy a replacement copy as a Christmas gift to myself and I bought the kindle edition this month, so that I can read that instead of accidentally damaging my brand-new copy that I cuddle with when I'm having an 'autistic moment'. It's calming and that's all that matters. Buy a copy, rent a copy, audio, print or eformat. Whichever. Just read this book.
Until next time, readers, have a happily ever after!

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