Promises (The Syrenka Series #1) – Amber Garr


Sometimes following your heart can end up destroying the ones you love.

When seventeen-year-old Eviana Dumahl is faced with the responsibility of an arranged marriage and clan leadership, she is forced to choose between the life required of a mermaid and one of a teenage girl simply infatuated with the wrong guy. Kain, her devoted fiancé would make a wonderful husband except that she’s been in love with Brendan, a shape-shifting selkie, ever since they were kids. Choosing to abandon her family, her clan, and her life with Kain will have dire consequences far beyond anything she could have imagined.

A war is brewing amongst the clans and Eviana unwittingly becomes a pawn in the intricate schemes of a twisted mastermind. With Brendan’s life on the line, she has no choice but to involve those who she once considered friends. Amidst encountering senseless tragedies and immense loss, Eviana discovers that she is more valuable as a clan leader than anyone ever suspected. Her survival is not only dependent upon the loyalty of her friends, but also on her acceptance of a life that she had so adamantly tried to escape.

Promises is the first book of The Syrenka Series trilogy following Eviana and her friends through the perils of growing up in a discrete world that inherently threatens human society.

At seventeen-years old a lot is expected of Eviana Dumahl. She’s expected to become a clan leader, marry Kain, and have children all within the next few years. Unfortunately for everyone else, Eviana is determined to be with her one true love, Brendan, who is not a fellow Syrenka. Eviana’s mother, the clan leader, does not approve of Brendan and makes it clear from the get-go that Eviana is going to marry Kain whether she likes it or not. So, naturally, Eviana and Brendan make a plan to run away together, leaving their families and friends behind forever.

Once Eviana and Brendan travel half way across the world to get away from their families, things seem to be so much better. While times are now tough, they have eachother, which is all they ever really needed. But things take a dark twist when someone steals Brendan’s seal skin, something he needs in order to survive. Now Eviana must face her fears and call upon the people that she left behind in order to save Brendan’s life.


I was first attracted to Promises because of how gorgeous the cover is. I love the blue-greenish colors that make up the cover. I also really liked the idea of the syrenka, or mermaids. I’m not an overly HUGE mermaid fan, so I was a tad nervous to begin reading Promises, but I just had a feeling that it was going to be good.

The first….50 or 60 or so pages of Promises were a little slow for my taste. I thought I  knew everything that was going to happen in the book, so I set myself up for early disappointment. Honestly, I almost set the book down, because there really is no action in the beginning parts of the book. There was a specific part of the book, though, that absolutely changed my opinion. All of a sudden all of these things that I never expected to happen were happening. Action scenes started to become more frequent and intense, and I was on the edge of my seat throughout a large chunk of the book.

There were many times that I wanted to compare Amber Garr to authors such as Richelle Mead or Anna Banks. While their writing styles and storylines are very different, I could tell that Garr had that extra spark that I like my writing to have. She didn’t quite reach the potential that I know she has in her in Promises, but I’m definitely expecting it as the series progresses. I was really impressed with how Garr completely blindsided me on what happened throughout the book. I expected Eviana and Brendan to get caught before they could run away together, Eviana to marry Kain right away, and no action to happen whatsoever. I was prepared for it, and I was going to set the book down as soon as it happened. I don’t even know how to explain what DID happen. It was great. It was brilliant. It was just…..entertaining and shocking.

I did have a bit of a problem with how everyone was just always….naked. I think it bugged me the most when Eviana was naked in front of her parents and it was just supposed to be normal. I get that that was the Syrenka life style or culture, but I was a little creeped out by that factor. Thankfully, it didn’t happen very often. There were really only two parts that seriously bugged me. 1. the parent’s section in the beginning and 2. when all the kids get out of the water at the end and walk around naked. It was weird. It didn’t take away from the story or the writing, but it was weird.

I also found it interesting how I am not a fan of Brendan at all. I am 100% team Kain and that will never ever ever change. I found Brendan to be too soft and whiney for my taste. I guess he really didn’t whine during the book, I just kind of associated the term with him. I expect a lot from Kain in the future books. I don’t know how it’s all going to play out, but I really hope he’s the one that Eviana chooses. I’m not a big fan of love triangles, because I don’t really see the point. The author obviously knows who the main character is going to ultimately end up with, and I would just rather see that relationship progress. Let’s be honest, most of us don’t get two hunky guys fighting for our attention on a regular basis. Love triangles usually do one or two things for me. 1. they upset me because I already know what’s going to happen or 2. they make me insanely angry like the love triangle between Rose/Dimitri/Adriane in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. I just want to see the original relationship play out.

Overall, I was a big fan of Promises. I would definitely recommend it to fans of Anna Banks. I would also recommend it to fans of Indie Author, Leigh Michael. The characters and plot were very strong, and it was a intense read that I’m going to hold on to for a very long time. I cannot wait to read more from Amber Garr!

Pages: 251

Publication Date: December 7th, 2011

Publisher: Self-published

Rating: [rating: 3.5]


Teaser Quote: “Once I slide into the back seat, I held the bottle up in front of me, searching for Abhainn. We were on the road heading to my hotel when a tiny face suddenly appeared pressed against the side of the clear plastic. I almost screamed and dropped my new friend, but recovered quickly enough to avoid disaster.”

Comments are closed.