I MUST CONFESS (and please don't take offense) . . .
shapeshifters in romance fiction have always made me somewhat uneasy. In fact, just the phrase shapeshifter romance strikes me as oxymoronic. Why? I'll tell you why. Because we're talking about people who turn into CRITTERS on a regular freakin' basis!
How romantic is that?
How can you possibly trust someone who "shifts" all the time? It's hard enough to trust people whose bodies change in normal ways. People can be pretty damned shifty without shifting, if you know what I mean.
And don't tell me there aren't some unpleasant smells attached to these guys (just to make this post easier, I'm going to use male nouns and pronouns). I don't care how thoroughly they transmogrify from horny animal to horny human; there must be some lingering trace of brute stink. Ever been to a zoo? Even a clean zoo? Ever smell dog breath, cat piss, bear fur, deer shit, goat anything? Enough said.
And a merman? Hell, dude is half fish all the time! At least, I'll bet, he isn't inclined to make those offensive tuna comments about women.
Speaking of mermen, I once read a book that featured a young lady getting all frothy over one of these creatures and finally (dig this) marrying him. I had to read the book because I volunteered as a judge for the Eppies a while back, and it was thrown my way.
Many parts of the book pushed many of my buttons--the laugh button, gag button, groan button, huh? button--but there was one line that pushed all the buttons at once. Just before the heroine decides she MUST do the do with the ichthyic hero, the author gives her this justification (I'm paraphrasing here): Ethel just had to fuck him; she didn't care if he wasn't of her species.
I shit you not.
Boy, that shivered me timbers. Can you imagine yourself--ever, under any circumstances--feeling that way? I thought, yiiy, if aliens ever do invade our planet and try to breed with us, Ethel Merman (bwahaha) will be the first in line. Under those circumstances, though, I suppose her mindset would be beneficial.
So, maybe I was traumatized by that book. Maybe that's why shapeshifters creep me out. I know the problem isn't my lack of imagination. Uh-uh. There are just some things I don't want to imagine.