Authors: Deborah Smith
Diary of a Radical Mermaid
by Deborah Smith
Praise for Alice At Heart
Book One: WaterLilies
• Romantic Times BOOKclub magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Fantasy Novel, 2002
• Winner of the prestigious 2003 Maggie Award for Paranormal Romance, presented by the Georgia Romance Writers of America
• Finalist, Dorothy Parker Award for Paranormal Romance, presented by the Reviewers International Organization (RIO)
“Readers of Alice Hoffman will enjoy Smith’s surprisingly convincing blend of romance and magical realism.”
“Old secrets, revenge, and passion fuel this compelling, intricately plotted story of love, trust, and acceptance, which successfully straddles the line between romance and fantasy and should appeal to fans of both genres.”
— Library Journal
“Absolutely magical and, in my mind, a real masterpiece. Kudos to D.S. for producing something so fresh and so perfect.”
—Susan Elizabeth Phillips,
New York Times bestselling author
“Wonderfully original and different — brava!”
— Susan Wiggs, bestselling author
Alice At Heart is available in trade paperback direct from BelleBooks at
and at fine bookstores everywhere.
Praise for the novels of
“When this generous book [Charming Grace] throws its arms open to assemble a family with Boone and Grace at its center, the reader rejoices. Romance is about the future, and everyone gets a new one in this big-hearted Southern tale.”
“Deborah Smith is one romance novelist who just keeps getting better.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Nobody can create strong, interesting and intelligent female lead characters the way Ms. Smith does.”
“A spellbinding storyteller.”
“For sheer storytelling virtuosity, Ms. Smith has few equals.”
— Richmond Times-Dispatch
“One of the best romantic writers in the business today.”
— Woman Magazine
“A great Southern novelist.”
— The Romance Reader
The books of
Silk and Stone
A Place to Call Home
When Venus Fell
On Bear Mountain
The Stone Flower Garden
Alice at Heart (WaterLilies, Book One)
Diary of a Radical Mermaid (WaterLilies, Book Two)
Deborah Smith is the award-winning, nationally bestselling author of 35 novels, including the New York Times bestseller, A Place to Call Home. Film rights to her 2003 novel, Sweet Hush, have been bought by Disney. Her WaterLilies series for BelleBooks will continue in 2005 with The Radical Mermaid Gets Rude.
Learn more about the books of Deborah Smith at
Diary of a Radical Mermaid
Diary of a Radical Mermaid
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons or fish (living or dead), events or locations is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2004 by BelleBooks, Inc.
Printed and bound in the United States of America. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
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First Edition July 2004
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Cover art: Sheila Aldridge
Cover design: Martha Shields
Map: Deborah Smith
Hidden between Earth and Water Await Miracles
— from the Bonavendier family crest
Diary of a
“Most of the world is covered in oceans. Ninety-five percent of the world beneath those oceans has not yet been explored. We can only imagine what may exist beyond our shores.”
— Marine biologist, a Lander
“What may exist? How about who?”
— Marine biologist, a Mer
Donald and Me
I was herding Paris Hilton and her shopping entourage down a Manhattan boulevard when I broke the biggest rule of mermaid life: Don’t show your tail in public. It seemed like such an innocent joke, dissing Donald Trump. But a Mer-babe of real class does not, simply does not, shout across Fifth Avenue, “Bad hair is not a symbol of self-confidence! Donald, I don’t care how big a hit The Apprentice was last season, the seventies are over. Stop with the comb-over, already! Or shave your head and get some transplants!”
Doing a bitch slap on a man’s hair is never a good thing, especially if a loud, beautiful redhead (me) yells at his (Donald’s) hair in the company of a famous heiress (Paris, who asked for my fashion guidance after recent public fiascoes) while a crew from Entertainment Tonight happens to be filming his (Donald’s) Manhattan stroll.
Because then they started filming Donald’s hair.
Donald’s a charming and rich man, but like most ordinary, plain-footed people on the planet he thinks he rules the whole globe when, in fact, he only rules the dry parts. The rest, which is covered in sweet, deep water, belongs to us — the Merfolk, aka Water People, aka People of Water, if you want to be politically correct about it.
Landers, one fourth. Mers, three fourths. Who’s more important? Donald or me? You do the math.
Still, I shouldn’t have pissed him off when he was on the verge of signing a huge New York real estate deal with Riyad bin Mahadeen, who is my great aunt Lilith’s lover, one of the world’s richest men, and a senior member of the worldwide Mer Council. Not that Donald knows he does business with Mers. Like all Landers, he never suspects. His hair would probably stand on end. What a mental image.
“Juna Lee Poinfax,” Donald told Riyad, “needs to be locked in a room somewhere and forced to look at pictures of my hair until she apologizes to me.”
Horrors. I refused.
So Donald pulled out on the multi-million-dollar deal, and Riyad banished me from polite Mer society for costing him a small fortune, and, thus, here I am, just another Mer rebel without a cause, sentenced to community service in the boondocks. Jane Austen could have written my woeful tale of class and privilege purloined, it’s so sad. She was a mermaid three times removed on her father’s side, you know.
Anyway, here I sit. Serving time on the beautiful but bucolic Georgia coast. What am I to do? How can I possibly preserve my Je ne sais quoi de mermaid?
I know. I’ll start a diary. A really hell-raising one.
Be warned. Mermaid at work.
Sainte’s Point Island, Georgia
All right, first, you ordinary people (Landers) need to know why my name is Juna Lee Poinfax. Yes, I know how it sounds.
Juna Lee. I might as well buy a beauty parlor and a house trailer.
Juna Lee is a very Southern name in the sense of being melodramatic and a little fey, thanks to a streak of pomposity among Mers, who love classical names, and a streak of humor in the Poinfax family tree, which is rooted in the Southern mint julep waters of Charleston, South Carolina. Juna is from the Roman goddess Juno, queen of just about everything. Lee is from my mother’s family, who claim to be related to Confederate General Robert E. (Lee).
I say claim because Mers are related by blood or marriage to just about every Lander of any consequence, or, should I say, more accurately, Mers believe every Lander of any consequence is related to a Mer.
We Poinfaxes are proud to be Southern Mer gentry. We always believe in gilding the lily. If we had a motto on our family crest, it would probably be this:
We’re Better Than Everyone Else, And We Know It
That motto has become my cri de couer since I’ve decided to write this subversive little journal. Where to start, hmmm, where to dive in? What do you Landers need to know first about us Mer people? Well, the obvious:
Mermaids are real.
Do I mean that half-naked, flipper-bottomed people are hiding in your local lake? Absolutely not! How tacky! But, as with most worldwide mythology with ancient and abiding roots, there’s always a pearl of truth in the middle of the oyster of folklore.
Mers are that pearl.
I am a “person of water.” One of the Water People. merfolk, if that makes you happy. I don’t have fins, I don’t live in an underwater condo, I don’t shapeshift between a pouty Darryl Hannah clone and a half-fish cartoon figure. I have two legs, I always have two legs, and I look more or less like anyone else. Only better. And with webbed toes.
Mers are real, yes. Very real. Thanks to certain psychic gifts and endless charisma, we live among you discreetly, though often in control of local and, indeed, worldwide events. If not for a hapless inability to reproduce like Landers, aka horny rabbits, we’d no doubt rule the planet.
Mers are diverse. You have your purists, your anarchists, your outcasts, and your middle-of-the-streamers. But in general, we share the following:
• Gorgeous good looks
• Very long hair that tends to grow six inches per day (this is true for both men and women)
• Ability to see very well under water, aided by a highly developed sonar talent
• Ability to remain under water for long periods of time, up to several hours in rare cases
• Incredible swimming ability (I mean, that’s a given, right?)
• Beautifully webbed toes
• Psychic abilities, including a “singing” type of thing among ourselves, plus a fair amount of mind control over you ordinary Landers
You don’t believe a word I’m telling you, do you? No way will you admit that some of the mysteries that go bump in the night (or in our case, splash in the water) might be real. But, trust me, there’s a whole different world out there beyond your safe little shores. Hang in there with me, sweeties, and I’ll tell you about it.
Even if I’m not supposed to.
Ali Bonavendier, my cousin by virtue of being Lilith’s long-lost baby half-sister (don’t ask), wrote this little tidbit in her private journal when she came to Sainte’s Point. Her name was Alice Riley then. She’d been raised up in the boonies of the Appalachian mountains without knowing her father or his Mer heritage. She was practically a hillbilly. She had no clue that she was a superior human being. Poor baby. But she’s fine now.
How did I get a peek at her private journal? Well, we’re both living at the island’s mansion right now, and we’re the best of friends, and she trusts me so much she shares her most intimate writings with me.