Series Review: Broken Tides by Catherine Jones Payne

Synopsis for Breakwater (from Goodreads):

A red tide is rising.

As the daughter of one of the mer-king’s trusted advisors, seventeen-year-old Jade has great responsibilities. When her fiancé murders a naiad, plunging the underwater city of Thessalonike into uproar, tensions surge between the mer and the naiads. Jade learns too late that the choices she makes ripple further than she’d ever imagined. And as she fights against the tide of anger in a city that lives for scandal, she discovers danger lurking in every canal, imperiling her family and shattering the ocean’s fragile peace.

Can the city’s divisions be mended before the upwelling of hate rips apart everything Jade loves?


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love
Series: Breakwater, Broken Tides
Author: Catherine Jones Payne
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Order Here)

There are prequel novellas.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mermaids
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 30, 2017 – December 2018
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC (#1); Public Library–Audiobook (#2); Own–Kindle (#0.5)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon  /  Barnes & Noble  /  Kobo

Review copy only provided for #1, Breakwater


**This post was originally published as a Blog Tour Stop review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been going through a bit of a mermaid withdrawal since I finished Jennifer Donnelly’s Waterfire Saga last year. I particularly liked that series because it had strong female characters and the world was fantastic. So I was eager to find another story to get lost in and this one looked promising!

The World:

One of my favourite aspects of an underwater world is when the author uses our everyday expressions and “water-ize” them. It’s the little things like “What the Depths!” (instead of “What the Hell!”) or “I’m not going to float here all day” that get you integrated into the world as a reader. It also shows all the effort the author puts into creating their world by looking at those “tiny” details. This one does this flawlessly and I loved watching it come to life as I read.

The Plot:

This book definitely has a slower plot line to it than I was anticipating and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

This story is all about doing the right thing even when other’s tell you not to. It’s more talking and reasoning than physically kicking bum, like so many other stories out there that have the clash between races/social hierarchy as their main plot. Most of the time, those stories require actually fighting back to make a change. So I found it really refreshing here that Jade tries to create a positive impact by speaking the truth and fighting for ideals through actions.

As a reader, you get caught up in the flow of the novel and it is easy to read even if it isn’t your typical action packed fantasy novel.

The Characters:

Jade lives in a bubble at the start of the book so it was nice when it burst and she got a dose of the real world. Once that bubble burst, she’s able to grow as a character…but not as much as I wanted. See, the problem is that Jade is a classic case of “Lead Heroine Sacrifice Syndrome“–meaning she thinks she alone can save the world by sacrificing herself. Like I said above, I can appreciate her efforts to change her world but I can’t believe how dense she is to the situation at hand. Her naivety (which is understandable given the fact that she is treated special by practically everyone) is a little tiring to read.

The Romance:

While I liked that this wasn’t a huge part of the story, I can’t help but think that it was bit of a missed opportunity. You are kind of told that there is this connection  instead of being shown it. So I didn’t really get behind the romance as much as I had hoped.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

The last 15% of this book does a lot to set up a sequel and I’m eager to see what is in store.

When to Read #0.5 A Gathering Tempest:

You can definitely read this book before you start the series since it does chronologically take place before the events of the first book. It doesn’t give anything away that you don’t learn within the first few chapters of Breakwater anyways. I read it in the middle of reading Crosscurrent since I didn’t have my audiobook player on hand. I actually liked this because it gave me more insight into Alexander’s character and helped me understand his motives of the first novel a little better. So I would almost recommend reading it after you finish book #1.

When to Read the Other Broken Tide Stories:

The only other novella story I read besides the prequel was Daughter of the Rivers. But all of these novellas basically enhance the worldbuilding of the main series. So you can truly read them at any time.


–June 20, 2019– Book #2: Crosscurrent

When I saw that my library had recently acquired the audiobook version of book 2, I was pretty excited. I was curious about this series and what would happen next but I never found the time to go out and get the sequel.

This was a great follow-up to the first novel. Everything I wished would happen did to some capacity. I really enjoy the diplomacy of this series and how most of it is done through talking and debate. It isn’t about a special snowflake warrior fighting battles but a girl who is slowly realizing that there is more to life outside of her bubble. I also loved how Jade realized she suffers from being a martyr when the time comes. I was really impressed with her character development in this novel.

As for the audiobook itself, I thought the delivery was a little stiff at times but is was still a super easy, enjoyable listen.

–February 16, 2020– Book #3: Maelstrom

I had been holding out for the hopes that my library would get the audiobook for this installment but no luck. Thankfully, I noticed this series is available on Kindle Unlimited so I made sure it was a priority.

Perhaps I waited too long to read this because I struggled a bit to get into it. I think the start was slower than I’d have liked. But everything I like about this series is here again. I love that it’s more political strategy through words than battle. And I like how we see that there is no clear solution, just the lesser of two evils so to speak. So it was refreshing, even if it felt slower at times.

My Rating: 3/5

[A Gathering Tempest 3/5] | Breakwater 3/5 | Crosscurrent 4/5 | Maelstorm 3/5

If you want a fantasy novel that isn’t action based, this is a great one for you! Especially if you love mermaids.

Read if You Like: mermaids, slower stories
Avoid if You: want more physical action



Catherine Jones Payne
Author Links: Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter


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