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Fred the Mermaid #1

Sleeping with the Fishes

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Fred is a mermaid. But stop right there. Whatever image you’re thinking of right now, forget it. Fred is not blonde. She’s not buxom. And she’s definitely not perky. In fact, Fred can be downright cranky. And it doesn’t help matters that her hair is blue.

Being a mermaid does help Fred when she volunteers at the New England Aquarium. But, needless to say, it’s there that she gets involved in something fishy. Weird levels of toxins have been found in the local seawater. A gorgeous marine biologist wants her help investigating. So does her merperson ruler, the High Prince of the Black Sea. You’d think it would be easy for a mermaid to get to the bottom of things. Think again…

268 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published November 28, 2006

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About the author

MaryJanice Davidson

161 books5,167 followers
MaryJanice Davidson is an American author and motivational speaker who writes mostly paranormal romance, but also young adult and non-fiction. She is the creator of the popular UNDEAD series and the time-traveling historical fiction A CONTEMPORARY ASSHAT AT THE COURT OF HENRY VIII. MaryJanice is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author who writes a bi-weekly column for USA Today and lives in St. Paul with her family. You can reach her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.


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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 438 reviews
Profile Image for Lolly's Library.
318 reviews88 followers
November 26, 2009
I started and finished this the same day; heck, it only took a couple of hours, all total, to read this foul-mouthed, vapid, empty piece of garbage. I wanted to like this book, despite a friend's warning of its awfulness rattling around in my head. It had such potential. There are all manner of paranormal beasties starring in books and series today: vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, faeries, even ghosts. Why not mermaids as well? What a shame a perfectly good and quirky concept (half-human mermaid who's a marine biologist and works at an aquarium) was let down by bad writing, a barely-there plotline, and a laughable climax to the "story."

First off, we have the heroine, Fredrika, aka Fred, the hybrid mermaid. Aside from the pseudo-amusing personality quirks (look, she's a mermaid who can't swim in human form! Oh my, she gets seasick on boats, how funny!), she stomps, she grumps, she has no patience or social skills, she's selfish and unbelievably foul-mouthed. Yet two men, both absolutely gorgeous (natch!), upon meeting her for the first time, fall in love with her. Why? Because she's just so damn irresistible? No, because she's just so gorgeous no man can resist her, but, of course, she's completely unaware of her ability to induce lustful feelings in men and some women. Aren't we tired of that 'gorgeous, but oblivious' hook yet? I know I certainly am. Speaking of the two men who love her, one is a giant, buff mer-dude with a mane of flaming red hair and red eyes. And yet nobody seems to think that maybe there's something weird about him when seeing him for the first time, that maybe he's not quite human? No screams of "Oh my god, what's wrong with his eyes? What is he?" when he walks into a local mall/eatery? How believable is that? Or maybe everyone thinks he's in a permanent Halloween costume? It makes no sense to me. The other man, a fellow marine biologist who travels the world, falls in love with her because he can see the true color of her hair, which is green not blue. That's it? Really? That's the best the author can come up with?

And that brings me to the plot of the book. I use the word plot in only the vaguest sense of the word, just as the author sketched only the vaguest outline of a plot in the story. All the "action" takes place towards the end of the book and the sequence of events is so fast and so absurdly ludicrous that it stretches the point of believability to breaking point. I think there was supposed to be some humor in the situation, but I couldn't find it. And if the author was trying for some sort of mystery, she fell well short of the mark.

I have to give Davidson some credit. She actually tells us in the acknowledgments that this is a crappy book, not in so many words, but in essence. She ripped up her manuscript and started over moments from deadline, she probably went through who-knows-how-many rewrites, and finally handed the whole thing over to a group of editors, who did they best they could with what little they had. Her editors failed, however, in making her look all, y'know, smart 'n' stuff (as she put it). I guess it's my fault for not believing her. All in all, Sleeping with the Fishes is just another crude and vulgar example of Davidson's writing "talent." I'd really like to know how she managed to get published in the first place. I just feel sorry for all the poor trees that have to die in order to support her career.
Profile Image for Emily.
4,971 reviews524 followers
June 11, 2021
Fred is a mermaid, she is solely focused on her job and has no desire for dating. When a man shows up at her parents though stating he is a merperson and High Prince of the Black Sea she finds her in a bit of a predicament as he is wanting to find out what is contaminating the water as well as court Fred. However, Fred has a new co-worker who is looking for the same thing and wants to date Fred as well. A mystery to be solved and a love triangle to navigate through, what could possibly go wrong?

This was fun and a bit silly. I definitely want to see where Fred's story goes and who she ends up with. I Really enjoyed Fred she as a hoot and she has her head in the clouds half the time solely focused on her job. Had a secondary story with her best friend as well. Full of humor and a light read.
Profile Image for Stef Rozitis.
1,458 reviews70 followers
August 9, 2017
It started off like it was going to be a comedy and make fun of some stereotypes but ended up being nothing more than a stereotype fest. Single girl is grumpy and alienates people and refuses to date. Her metro best friend knows better, and every now and then calls her a "frigid bitch" or something and tells her she has to want to date (said best friend is male, so of COURSE he mansplains her own desire to her, only the book presented this as Ok somehow).

Enter gorgeous guy one who falls into insta-love with her and has some really wonderful virtues like knowing what colour her hair really is. Everyone perceives it as blue, but only he knows it is really green. What?

Enter gorgeous guy two who is controlling and possessive and even more creepy than guy one. Behold the love triangle (oh we've never seen that before). Fred (the girl's name which seemed promising at first) still doesn't want their sexual harrassment, but somehow every time they force it on her she suddenly feels desire (oh please). She has no female friends but she has a female boss who could have been portrayed as intelligent and actually been a good character (you know I was excited about the marine biologists thing at first) but really is just sexy in a neglected older-woman sort of a way and ends up being ravished by the best friend who has desired her forever.

But bad guys are dumping toxic chemicals in the harbour. Which I thought was going to add a point of interest to the story (and I liked that Fred and her two irritating suitors were teaming up to stop the pollution - I thought there would be something substantial in there) but then that as well ends up being about sex and being a short scene of stereotypical violence with the bad-guy being portrayed as mentally ill in some nonsensical and ableist way so that he can...yeah well I am not sure it would even be spoilers to say more.

It had potential as a comedy, if we HAD to have the stereotypes but didn;t quite manage to mess with them enough, or it had potential to be a romance if it were slightly more complex and less stereotypical (and lost all the rapey stuff). I don't personally love romance as a genre but was prepared to overlook a lot because a mermaid who is a marine biologist seemed like a WONDERFUL idea. The first two chapters showed me some body-acceptance that was cute and there was a guy who seemed gay but was not...there were a few things in there that really had potential. In the end though the author copped out by delivering exactly what everyone is expecting plus a big dose of internalised misogyny. I had started bookmarking some examples back when I thought the environmental theme would still carry the book for me. I ended up giving up. See almost every chapter.

Profile Image for Tiffany Champion.
108 reviews22 followers
March 23, 2021
Awesome, Ridiculous, Amazing, and Hilarious!

This was so ridiculous and over the top, it had me laughing out loud at several points.

The romantic comedy was so well done!

Fred is my new spirit animal!

Must read for anyone looking to break a slump!

10/10 Highly Recommend
Profile Image for Fangs for the Fantasy.
1,449 reviews187 followers
July 5, 2015
Dr. Fredrika Bimms knows that she's a mermaid and that her dad isn't her biological father. When her parents decide to drop the news, that the man she calls dad isn't biologically related to her, Fred is more bothered by catching her parents in the middle of sex, than she is by their revelation. Feeling scared for life, Fred wonders how she will get past seeing what no child ever wants to see. Little does Fred know that she'll quickly get over the trauma when the handsome Prince Artur of the Black Sea appears, demanding her help as his royal subject to discover the source that is polluting the ocean. Fast on Artur's heels, is the hot marine biologist Thomas, who has also noticed a problem with the water and the fact that Fred's hair is green and not blue. For the first time, Fred finds that she has the attention of two gorgeous men and doesn't know remotely how to handle it.

Sleeping with the Fishes is mindless fluff and never pretends to be anything else. It can easily be read in one afternoon on the patio with a piña colada for company. That said, even with few expectations, Sleeping with the Fishes is outright puerile and at times irritating. There's really no plot to speak of. For the majority of the book, Fred just stomps around angry and confused by the attentions of Thomas and Artur. We learn about her penchant for striking out physically when irritated or feeling threatened. At 5'11, Fred is incredibly strong thanks to being a human/mermaid hybrid. She's stunningly beautiful, though naturally doesn't even acknowledge it. Other than her grumpy disposition, she has no real characterisation to speak of. It's impossible to like or dislike Fred because I know hardly anything about her.

In between Fred's grumping, we get the search for the person who's polluting the water. This really could have gone somewhere and given Sleeping with the Fishes a real plot; however, Davidson really didn't invest in it at all. The connection made between Fred and the polluter is tenuous at best and his reasons for polluting are absolutely ridiculous. If that were not enough, Fred quickly puts two and two together to ascertain the antagonist's identity and the case is wrapped up with everyone headed their own directions. I didn't expect the great American novel but what the hell? The ending is so abrupt that it left me asking, "is this all?"

I assume that because the story is so light in terms of plot, Davidson tried to interject humour. Unfortunately, none of the humour is particularly amusing. Fred is a mermaid, who has an allergy to seafood and gets seasick in a boat. Yes, it's awkward but it is not enough to make me giggle Where Davidson really failed however is having Fred's Bff Jonas be confused as a gay for the sake of shits and giggles. People naturally think that Jonas is gay because he likes shopping, can pick a good pair of shoes, takes care of his skin, cares about how he looks etc., and ets., I assume you get the picture. It's all based on a stereotype of what a gay man is supposedly like. Jonas's sexuality is the brief stumbling block between him and the woman he has had a crush on for six years.

Dr. Barb nodded. "Now, Jonas, you listen to me."

She looked puzzled, but raised and hardened her voice. "Now, Jonas, you listen to me." He got all tingly when she used her schoolteacher voice. "You are a wonderful guy: handsome, funny, smart, sweet. You're going to make some man very happy. The trick is finding Mr. Right, as they say."


"You've got a lot to offer some lucky fellow, and I'm sure the gentleman you've got a crush on will see that if you can just get to know him a little better."

"But—" In his surprise, he blurted out the truth. "But you're the gentleman I've got a crush on!"

They stared at: each other. Dr. Barb froze with her ginger ale halfway to her mouth. And Jonas cursed himself. This wasn't the first time a woman had assumed he was gay, but he never dreamed that Dr, Barb would think—Couldn't she tell he could hardly keep his hands—Couldn't she tell?"

"But—you're gay. You're Dr. Bimm's gay best friend.

"I'm not gay."

"But you are.""Dr. Barb," he snapped, "I think I would know, okay? Trust me, I'm not even bi. I'm just very very very secure in my masculinity, okay?"

Color began to climb in her face. "But—you like to—"


"But you also like—"

"Secure in my masculinity."

Now she was red faced and stammering. "But I—I never s-see you w-with any girls—women, I mean—"

"You've never seen me with anybody."She closed her mouth so quickly, he heard the click of her teeth coming together. When she spoke, her voice was very small and she sort of breathed the whole thing out, really fast.

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Profile Image for Anita.
116 reviews
September 2, 2022
3.5 stars (lurching towards 4...ish)

I remember my first Undead book - I was in San Francisco, my client had canceled our dinner plans and there was a Borders (or B&N) on the edge of Union Square.

That night remains a blur. I read that entire book, cackling like a loon... I think I laughed through my solo dinner... I laughed. I laughed.

So many Betsy Taylor books later, I'm not laughing quite as much (though I still laugh. MJDavidson is an excellent and funny storyteller)..... and now I've stumbled upon Fred Bimm.

Funny? Ish. Sexy? Ish. Story? Eh.

Not the worst story but not as MJDavidson as I'm used to reading.

Not sure if it's her - or me?

Profile Image for Grace.
929 reviews73 followers
September 9, 2022
This was a fun, quick read. I definitely only read it because it’s a mermaid book, and it wasn’t amazing or anything, but it was quirky and entertaining. There were definitely times I felt like Fred was too mean, and other times I was surprised by how sexual it got, but overall it was fun and I’ll consider reading the sequels. It felt like a sit com or a 90s TV movie, not in a bad way just that was the vibe 😂
Profile Image for Anne.
3,918 reviews69.3k followers
January 23, 2009
I can't really say that this is a great story, but I didn't hate reading it. I guess the idea of a mermaid as the heroine of a book is different enough to keep it interesting. I'm sure that not everybody would agree with me , but what the heck. It was a fast and fluffy little read, and I plan on reading the other two books in the series.
Profile Image for Christy Stewart.
Author 12 books301 followers
April 30, 2010
This is just a remake of Queen Betsy as a mermaid and the sad part is, the author cops to it. If you know you are a one trick pony at least TRY to hide it.

And as someone who has blue hair, I'm offended by Davidson's depiction of our struggle.
Profile Image for Novel Nymph.
398 reviews68 followers
January 16, 2019
3.5 stars

Even though Fred (the mermaid--short for Fredericka), is kind of a semi-bitchy, disgruntled, the-world-revolves-around-me type, this book was still pretty funny. I laughed out loud a few times. On a side note, Jonas sounds pretty cute, and as for that matter, Arthur, but then *spoiler alert* who can resist a merman?
Profile Image for Natasha.
289 reviews108 followers
January 15, 2010
I just realized I've never did a review on this series, and I read it this past summer..Better late than never I suppose!

Sleeping with the Fishes by MJD is the first book in the Fred the Mermaid series. MJD is mostly known for her Undead series which is a big hit and hilarious. And like everything she writes, it was fast paced and had snappy dialogue. I really like Davidson's humor. She can have serious action one minute and humor the next. Even when their filled with monsters, you laugh out loud.

I really enjoyed this book/series. It was a different pace from her other series. The main character was still a hoot and the book had a good amount of action. But this book was all about mermaids, which I thought was cool. I was hesitant to read this because I thought it would be more of a YA type read. (Not that I don't love YA, because I do.) It just didn't appeal to me at first. But that was before I started to read it. Sure, it's no Betsy, since that series is super great. But it's a good series for a light read.

The heroine, Twenty nine year old marine biologist Dr. Fredrika Bimm ( but funny enough she goes by Fred) isn't your typical Disney type mermaid. Far from it. She's a unique character.. with green hair and who's half mermaid and half human. During the story she gets the attention of two males. One human and the other a sea-prince. But Fred isn't the type to love that much attention, and doesn't want to be bothered by either. The triangle they make is truly funny! But romance isn't the main part of this book, the pollution in the waters is a big deal for Fred and being a Marie Biologist she is helping in anyway she can to find out what's the cause. That's where both Dr. Thomas Pearson and sea-price Arthur come in. Arthur and all the sea-folk are being affected by the pollution and Thomas also wants to help Fred to find out who's behind it. Fred's supporting cast is strong and funny. I really liked Jonas's character. (Her best friend). He kept the humor going when other's seemed to be sometimes lacking.

But honestly this was a good book. At page one of this book I was hooked. I bought and read all three books in one weekend on my summer vacation. SLEEPING WITH FISHES is an amusing fantasy that makes you think twice about who's swimming in your waters. If your interested in a charm filled light read, this book is the one to read!
Profile Image for Jen.
1,434 reviews121 followers
May 4, 2016
I really enjoy this book. Fred is a wonderful protagonist: She's very likable and has a really great sense of humor. She's also strong of mind (and body!). If she were a real person, I'd be happy to call her a friend. :-)

This first book is great fun to read. In it, we're introduced to Fred, Prince Artur of the Black Sea (also known as suitor #1), and Dr. Thomas Pearson (also known as Patricia D'Jacqueline, romance novelist, and suitor #2). :-) We also meet a character who I perhaps love even more than I do Fred: Jonas Carrey, Fred's best friend. I love Jonas! He's handsome and funny and oh-so-secure in his masculinity. I love that his favored drink is an appletini. :-)

The story starts off fun and funny and just gets better from there. (The opening scene/chapter involves Fred walking in on her parents having sex. Hilarity ensues.)

I also have to laugh along whenever Fred's allergy to shellfish comes up in company of her fellow mer-people and they laugh. It's infectious. (And it really is pretty funny that Fred is a mermaid who's allergic to shellfish. *hehehe*) ;-)

I'm sort of at a loss as to what else I could say about this book. I enjoy it. It's fun, light, and a quick read. What more needs to be said? Since I can't think of anything, I think I'll stop here. ;-)
Profile Image for Dianne.
1,557 reviews117 followers
October 25, 2021
I needed something light and frivolous like this. All the books I have been selecting lately are deep and meaningful. Yep, this is exactly what I needed---a popcorn read! Perfect!~
Profile Image for Debbie.
815 reviews59 followers
February 21, 2018
This must be my month for reading off-beat books. I picked this one up at a book sale because the cover called to me...ocean and sparkles.... Well it's an odd story about a mermaid, but it was OK and I will probably read the other 2 in the series when I find them and need a quick easy read.
Profile Image for Kate Roman.
Author 40 books57 followers
July 31, 2009
Above-average romance involving several heroes and a mermaid named Fred, this first of a new series by Mary Janice Davidson is funny and fast-paced, and opens with one of the most memorable scenes I've run across in awhile. The heroine, Fred (the mermaid) walks in on her mother and stepfather, in flagrante on the sofa, and from there talk turns to her memorable parentage, explaining her uncanny ability to hold her breath underwater...not to mention the fact that water also makes her break out in a tail.

Okay, so you have to do a little suspension of disbelief with this one. Maybe more than with your average Harlequin romance. But this is not such a bad thing. Once you buy into the whole story and just hang on for the ride, it's quite adorable.

Fred gets a job at a local aquarium (hee), and becomes involved in the fight to save it from local developers. It's not entirely clear how she does this, except by making a gorgeous marine biologist fall in love with her, along with the High Prince of the Black Sea (merman), so they'll unite forces and figure out who's poisoning the bay.

Trust me, it's super cute! Fred gets to be strong and sassy and ignore everyone, and she doesn't commit to one dude or the other simply because it would make a pat storyline. She's not that easy to pin down, and she's only known them for a few days apiece.

Cute book! Definite beach reading. ;)
Profile Image for TK421.
556 reviews261 followers
June 24, 2012
This may be the dumbest book I have ever read. To say nothing of the book, I must not be a fan of the paranormal persuasion. (Even if the writing, storytelling, plot, and characters were all weak.)
Profile Image for Cori.
150 reviews75 followers
May 28, 2010
This book was amazing! The main character is witty, sarcastic and just all around epic. The modern day mermaid and I'm not talkin' Ariel. I'll definitely be investing in the second book of the series.
Profile Image for Toby.
1,614 reviews59 followers
January 27, 2020
This was a fun, light-hearted, and definitely fluffy story, but given that I’m on staycation and also have been reading a lot of heavier books lately, it was welcome!

I also 110% support the concept of irritable mermaids! 😂
Profile Image for Jane.
913 reviews9 followers
May 5, 2023
Enjoyable fun read about a quirky half-mermaid called Fred who works as - what else - a marine biologist. Toxins are found in the town harbour and Fred, with the help of fellow biologist, merman prince and her metrosexual best friend, must find out the cause.
136 reviews
May 8, 2023
I’m actually kinda shocked this was written in 2020. The men in this book had no sense of boundaries and came off as icky to me. It was a cheeseball cozy crime… but it wasn’t my favorite style of writing. Oh well, just a book for somebody else!
Profile Image for Wondra Vanian.
Author 63 books47 followers
May 31, 2017
I really dislike love triangles (meat triangles, sure; love triangles, no) but this is cute. Ultra-cheesy, eye-rolling cute. It needed to be about twice as long to really do it justice, though.
Profile Image for Lise-Anne.
289 reviews
July 3, 2020
I guess I shouldn’t of expected much from a book with mermaid as main characters... but it was a book that’s been on my TBR forever. Oh well! I was a little bit funny and different from the usual biped stories.
Profile Image for Carrie.
529 reviews
August 22, 2019
I got this book as a bit of a joke after discussing it with my co-worker. I knew it wouldn’t be amazing literature, but I had hoped it might be funny. Not so much. I only finished it because I needed something to read while I was up with insomnia all night. Fred is basically a caricature of an overgrown toddler, complete with fits. The two guys are in love with Fred, although I cannot figure out why. I mean, at all. Anyway, kudos to you if you’re into quick reads about moody mermaids, but I am not.
Profile Image for Catsalive.
1,830 reviews10 followers
January 1, 2023
More amusing than Swimming Without a Net but Fred is such a self-centred being that even the funny parts are usually just as irritating. Easy reading; meant to be silly (it is definitely that); not to be taken seriously; definitely light entertainment; & a change from vampires & werewolves. Fred is Betsy without the style & charm. Having read the first two books, I'll leave it at that.
Profile Image for gremlinkitten.
450 reviews97 followers
October 7, 2015
While I'm not a big fan of MaryJanice Davidson's work, I've still semi-enjoyed a few of her other books, although there was the case of an exceptionally horrendous short story, but this book was pretty bad - nay, terrible. The book was disjointed and had very underdeveloped characters. Supposedly it's a romance, but the only romance it has is between Dr. Barb and Jonas, who were actually the best characters in the book, which is saying a lot. Although really, Jonas seemed gay; is there any straight man that acts like that? Even metrosexuals? There was just much. I doubt the average gay guy acts this way. It's just insulting...to everyone! Fred was a horrible character and had no redeeming features what-so-ever. I mean it's nice to have a different heroine who isn't the typical cookie-cutter image but this is ridiculous. I could not even fathom (heehee, get it? Fathom? The ocean? Water? Oh, forget it. ;P) what Thomas or Artur could see in her, or why they would like her, especially since they didn't know her except for her surly nature. Honestly, this is a horrible start to this series. I thought it would be a fun and interesting take on mermaids, but I could have written something better, which is sad. The more I think about it the more upset I am. I mean, yes I had a chuckle here and there, yes there were some interesting aspects, but there really wasn't a story and I can't imagine anyone actually caring for these characters. How dare Ms. Davidson maim poor mermaids, undersea folk, or whatever; I've always had a fondness for these mythical(?) creatures. I'm sorry this was such a travesty when there aren't very many books that feature merpeople. Luckily, it's a very quick read and I didn't pay eight bucks for this...this--well you get the drift. Thank you BookMooch! ;D
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