by R. Casteel

May 2003
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The Mistress of Table Rock starts off just fine for me. Scott Mathis pulls into the Army Corps of Engineers office at Table Rock Lake, in Branson Missouri. Cleaning lakes is Scott’s business and he travels the country doing that, going from place to place as work comes available. Just as he refrains from getting fond of any location, he has forced himself to remain aloof since his wife and child died during the terrorism attacks of 9/11.

Enter petite, beautiful Aleecia Fields, the park service employee who’s been assigned to help Scott while he’s at Table Rock. There is an immediate attraction between the two. The next morning, she is in his camper as he wakens; the sight of his naked body stirs her interest. Her presence there, plus the fact that she’s hiding something, stirs his interest, too.

When Scott finishes his first exploratory dive in the lake, a storm is brewing. Aleecia says she doesn’t dive, but he finds her boat and her clothes, and knows that she’s diving. He goes to look for her, loosing track of time and depth, and blacking out. When he comes to, he’s been supplied a fresh air tank and is able to get to safety. Who rescued him? Aleecia!

When they finally make love, Scott discovers her secret: she has gills. She not only can dive, she can do it without tanks, to depths that would be dangerous to a normal person. Once they get past that, they explore the idea of love with one another. When Aleecia takes ill and the government gets called in, the whole focus changes, from their developing love to how to survive.

R. Castell casts a line to the reader, asking us to bite. A government program produced a person to be used for dangerous underwater missions. Okay, I nibbled, but the line broke before he could reel me in. Aleecia insists that she is in danger and so is Scott once he knows her secret. Then she jeopardizes the secret herself by diving when she shouldn’t and acting dangerously. She insists she shouldn’t have children, but then forces the issue of unprotected sex.

Once the government gets involved, Scott meets an agent who won’t keep her clothes on, for Scott or Aleecia. As she and Scott drive from Missouri to Virginia she takes ample opportunities to tempt Scott with her bod. Good man that he is, he resists, but for how long? Despite his resistance, and at a point where she can finally begin to feel safe, Aleecia trades off displaying her martial arts skills for sharing Scott’s body with the sexy fed. What?? And in a matter of days, Aleecia and Scott are trained to be members of an elite fighting team.

Parts of The Mistress of Table Rock were intriguing. Mr. Castell seems to know his way around boats and diving, but as fish stories go, I couldn’t quite swallow this one hook, line or sinker. The sex is intense and includes same sex pairings.

Reviewed in June 2003 by Kris.

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