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Alice at Heart (Waterlilies #1)

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  934 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
Alice At Heart is simply this: a rich, whimsical, intelligent and romantic launch for Deborah's WaterLilies series about the lives, loves, and dramas of a secret society of people endowed with supernatural traits in the water and a solemn mythology that insists they're descended from ancient (and not stereotypical) "mermaids."

The BelleBooks collector's edition of Alice At
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published January 13th 2011 by BelleBooks (first published January 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,925)
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Oct 12, 2008 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of magical realism, romantic fantasy
Alice Riley is a special young woman, with mysterious abilities, an affinity for water, and webbed toes. She has always been an outsider, but when she rescues a little girl from drowning, she is thrust uncomfortably into the spotlight and draws the attention of the Bonavendier sisters, who claim to be her kin. . .and mermaids. Alice moves from the insular world of Riley, Georgia, to the Bonavendier's actual island of Sainte's Point, she learns about her past, and is torn between loyalty to her n ...more


I read the ebook edition, so it's possible that the new edition corrects some of the issues I mention in this review.

And here it is: Another story with an interesting premise but which, in the end, falls short due to an abundance of the most clichéd paranormal traits.

As a magical realism story this had great promise... had the development been more focused on the characters, and ultimately on their interactions; instead of endless descriptions of clothes and bracelets.

Alice, as a
Oct 16, 2008 Lisse rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I like the idea behind Alice at Heart - a mermaid (not the kind with the tail that we grew up hearing stories about, but the real deal with webbed toes, hair that grows about two inches a day and the ability to swim under water for immense periods of time. Oh, there's also the talking with dolphins thing and their singing to your soul bit as well) who doesn't know she is one until her sisters come and find her and show her her true self. I like the way Alice comes into her own in the book, but I ...more
This is definitely not a book I would have picked up on my own,(It's a firstread book from goodreads giveaway)but I'm glad I did.
Alice grew up in a mountain town as a freak. Her family barely tolerated her existence, and her mother committed suicide when she was just a few days old. Then, everything changes. Alice is out swimming when she rescues a child from drowning. The amazing thing is, she was quite a distance away from the girl when she fell in, and no one should have been able to get ther
Apr 06, 2016 Kailey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
In this book, Alice discovers that her extraordinary swimming abilities, her webbed toes, and the fact that she can breathe underwater, all mean that she is a half-human descendant of a mermaid. When her half-sisters come looking for her, and a mysterious man appears to her in a vision, Alice must decide if she really can believe in a new type of magical life, or if her damaged past will keep her from accepting the love of her new family.

I wanted to like this book because it's about mermaids, an
Oct 22, 2012 Cheryl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First, I am a realistic "rater". 4-star and 5-star ratings are not easily earned from me. 3-stars means I'm glad a read the book. It was a good choice. 1-star rated books I either could not bring myself to finish, or I feel I wasted time from my life I can never recover. So, a 2-star rating, like this book, is a book that had some potential, some elements that appealed, but simply didn't fulfill that potential. I read the e-book version that was free for a time for the Kindle. I understand anoth ...more
Jan 27, 2011 Debbie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2011, dead-tree
I had zero expectations going into the book. I'd heard of the author before but hadn't read anything by her. I have had Waterlilies #2 on my shelf forever, so decided I should finally get around to reading the first in the series.

I liked this book. It's a very different take on mermaids, and had a very sensual, lush narration. I really liked how Alice and Griffin were both finding themselves together, and how the plot line ties into very intriguing backstories of the sisters.

Plotwise, this book
Lydia Presley
Nov 07, 2009 Lydia Presley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
What an..odd book.

First, the bad things. The cover art is HORRIBLE. Seriously, I never wanted to pick up this book. It looks like something out of the 70's. Horrible, horrible cover. Also, the type is horrible. It's huge. The book should have been half as long as it was because of how big that type was.

Story-wise, this was like reading, a peaceful mystery? I guess. The characters had interesting depths and quirks to them. Their motto really made no sense and the story moved at a snails pace
Jennifer Kronk
Jan 02, 2010 Jennifer Kronk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deborah Smith wrote one of my favorite romances ever, When Venus Fell. Alice at Heart is nothing like book. It is hard to see that they were written by the same author. Venus is an unlikely love story between two bitter, damaged and funny people. Alice is a fairy tale with a lot of romance, lyricism and passion. At some point I would like to read more in the series but I do not feel compelled to run out and get something from the library right now. If there was a new book about Venus, I would be ...more
Apr 01, 2011 Melissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't hate it, but I wanted so much more from this. I though the concept was interesting and different from other things I have read, but the entire book was so slow I felt like I was waiting for it to ~really~ start the entire time I was reading it. I also didn't find the main character and her entire change of attitude very believable and there wasn't really anything about her I was drawn to or interested in. The author did a fairly decent job on scenery description, though, and it made me ...more
Apr 05, 2011 Maggie rated it it was ok
This book was free on Amazon (Kindle edition), which was why I downloaded it. I'm glad I didn't pay money for it. It didn't suck really terribly, but definitely lacked the depth that would have made it satisfying. I have nothing against mermaids and I like this concept, but it was wrapped in a superficial, cheesy, romance-novelish shell that made me embarassed to be reading it and glad that I was reading the Kindle version, as I'm sure the printed version would have had Fabio on the cover. (I kn ...more
Sep 09, 2013 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick read between "heavier" novels to refresh my imagination and give me a bit of fantasy. That being said, I do like my fantasy to be a bit believable in order to really suck me in, and this delivered only some of the way. Where the story becomes far-fetched or a little dramatic I became less interested, but the story and plot was enough to carry me right to the end of the book without wanting to give up. Fun for the imagination and a different take on "mermaids" than what we grew u ...more
Alasandra Alawine
A fanciful tale of "mermaids". Alice who has been raised by her Mother's kin has been treated as an oddity and despised by her kin since her birth. When she rescues a young girl from drowning her name makes the national news and her half-sisters who were told she died at birth come to find her. Lilith, Mara and Pearl Bonavendier invite her to come live with them on Sainte's Point Island, the Bonavendier family enclave. There Ali (Alice) discovers her mermaid origins.

Griffin is determined to fin
Mar 18, 2011 Cindy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-recommended
I don't see what others liked about this book. It started off with an interested opening, but I lost interest pretty soon. Alice was a good character with a background that made me care about her, but what's with all the other stuff going on? And then more explicit content than I wanted to be reading. How old is Alice, anyway? I got confused and lost interest. No thanks.
This is a really sweet story about a woman who discovers how extraordinary she is. She grew up with her Aunt, who, alone with the rest of the town, made her feel like an outsider. Odd Alice, they called her. Through a accidental heroic act, she discovers her half-sisters, and finds out that all her oddities are really the traits of a very old, very powerful, family.
Oct 26, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
Cute. I liked it better in the beginning, when it was darker and more about two misfits finding each other. Once the Southern magnolia mermaid mythology and backstory kicked in it got a little too sweet for me - and there was less of a focus on the characters that interested me most, Alice and Griffin.
Jan 06, 2011 Bree rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This one is different than the other books I've read of hers, as it has fantasy, however, it was still good! Great even!
Carolyn F.
Nov 17, 2013 Carolyn F. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very sweet, sad, romantic book. I've heard of this author but have never read any of her work. It's always a joy to find someone good.

Mar 18, 2011 Tisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading Alice at Heart and I am really on the bubble as what to rate it and how to review it. This one was a quick read, and I thought it had it's good points and it's bad. One of the main things I really enjoyed about this book was the subject. I have not seen a mermaid romance novel lately. In this age of vampires and other creatures this one was a refreshing change. I liked the basic plot of the story, long lost sister, finding family and love always appeals to me. I liked the ...more
Dec 11, 2008 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this one fast enough that it never even made it into my "currently-reading" list. I thought it would take a few days, but the type was set somewhat larger than I'm used to, so the pages went by pretty fast.

It was a magical sort of story - mermaids exist! Only not in the storybook fantasy (Disney) sort of way they're typically portrayed. A young girl with strange abilities feels like a freak and an outcast, until one day her relatives find her, and she must go on a journey of self-discover
Apr 30, 2011 Rhonda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its a charming story of water people, excepting differences in our selves and others. Alice lived most of her life being hated for being different. Boys assaulted her and laughed. Her family hated her. She was told her teenage mom killed herself because of her.

Alice lives alone by a lake in a cabin. Where she feels safer and more at peace swimming in the lake. Alice works at a pet store. Alice has never left her area.

One day while swimming nude in the freezing water she hears a scream of child
Oct 26, 2008 Jodi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women
Recommended to Jodi by: goodreads giveaways
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alice grew up different. She feels more at home under water, than on land. She can swim for long periods of time. The cold temperatures of an icy winter lake don’t bother her. She can ‘sing’ underwater, and hear others’ songs… And then there is her hair, which grows two inches every day. And her eating preferences, butter of all things. And the toes that she hides in her big and bulky boots! When her conception and birth embarrassed her family, they made it clear to her she was unwanted, a mista ...more
May 02, 2012 Ruthie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-kindle
I have always been fascinated by all the fantastic creatures and people of myth, and mermaids in particular have always caught my interest, with the first one's I knew about being from my beloved Peter Pan. They have been portrayed as innocents cavorting half-naked beneath the waves, vicious creatures luring men to their deaths, and every shade of possibility in between. I've read more than one variation on mermaids recently, and I really enjoyed this one.

Alice is a young women who has been iso
Jan 22, 2012 Melisande rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pour changer un peu, j’ai lu ce livre : de la romance (ouais, étrange, venant de ma part mais ça a son explication ^^) et portant sur les sirènes (très rare vu qu’en France, ça n’a pas l’air d’arriver alors qu’aux Etats Unis, ça semble être le « thème » du moment). Donc voilà, j’ai lu ce livre et je dois dire que je n’ai pas du tout été déçue. Je ne m’attendais à rien de spéciale et sachant que c’était très romance, bien qu’il y ait une partie fantastique importante, je suis assez difficile vu q ...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Alice has always been the odd one in her small Appalachian community. She loves water, her hair grows incredibly fast, her feet are slightly webbed, and somehow her personality has just never "fit in." She's done her best all her life to blend into the background, but she gets quite a bit of publicity when she rescues someone. She hates being in the public eye, but ultimately it brings her to the attention of some women who can give her answers about her past and why she's so different.

Let me sa
Oct 24, 2008 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those fancying themselves mer-people
I got this book from the giveaway book section (First Reads) on Goodreads, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It's definitely not a book that I would have picked up on my own in the library or bookstore, but I want to give it a fair review because it is well written.

Deborah Smith certainly has technical skill and is accomplished in her craft. In order to create a modern-day, believable world where humans interact with mermaids (or "Water People" as she calls them), Smith obviously did a fair amoun
Apr 19, 2012 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Okay book about a girl who discovers love, her father's family and that she's a mermaid. Or rather 1/16th mermaid, but she has webbed toes and some supernatural abilities. The story was so-so, had some overused tropes and cliches. The writing varied between beautiful and purple.

(view spoiler)
i downloaded this book from as a freebie for the kindle. the premise sounded really interesting! i love the idea of a paranormal story about something other than vampires, werewolves or fairies! and i have always loved the idea of mermaids, even as a little kid. :)

i gave this book 3 stars b/c i did enjoy reading it, and i love the setting of the story and the romanticism behind it, but i felt like the book was lacking something. it's kind of hard to put my finger on exactly what, but
Jan 31, 2009 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women who like to talk about the mystical feminine principle
Shelves: fantasy
On the plot level, this was an all right story: Alice is a small town girl with no parents. She has never fit in. When she saves a drowning child, people begin to suspect that she has a secret, although they don't know that it is her ability to breath under water. Harrassed by neighbors and relatives, she flees to her long-lost half-sisters, who have the same magical abilities. To live happily ever after with Griffin, whose family has a long-standing enmity with hers, she must discover secrets t ...more
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aka Jackie Leigh
aka Della Stone
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Bestselling Author
Co-founder, co-publisher
Vice-president, Editor in Chief
BelleBooks, Memphis, TN

Deborah Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of A Place to Call Home, and the No. 1 Kindle Bestseller The Crossroads Cafe, A Gentle Rain and other acclaimed romantic novels portraying life and love in the modern Appalachian South. A native Georg
More about Deborah Smith...

Other Books in the Series

Waterlilies (2 books)
  • Diary of a Radical Mermaid (Waterlilies, #2)

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“Wish it, believe it, and it will be so.” 42 likes
“We are all bodies of water, guarding the mystery of our depths, but some of us have more to guard than others.” 15 likes
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