To Crave A Blood Moon
by Sharie Kohler, paranormal (2009)
Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4391-0158-2
Sharie Kohler's The Moon Chasers series is interesting mostly because the werewolves - or lycans, as they are called here - are the bad guys, the monsters that eat your babies and dance over your bloody corpse. The humans are the ones who attempt to save the day. Therefore, this series is a refreshing change - so far - from the average "secret brotherhood of woo-woo guys who protect humans from their people only to fall in love with a feisty human woman in distress" romantic urban fantasy romps out there. To Crave A Blood Moon, which can stand alone very well as it has a self-contained plot and minimal cross-references to previous books in the series, however, is probably the most conventional and even clichéd entry into the series so far.
Ruby Deveraux spends her whole life feeling unloved due to the fact that, when she was younger, her father abandoned her family because of her empathic ability to sense other people's emotions. It was downhill from there, so the poor darling has an issue about her lovability. While working as a chaperone for a bunch of tourists in Istanbul, she finds herself the sole survivor of a vicious werewolf party. These lycans spare her because they have a special plan for her: she is to be the meal of their prisoner, a half-lycan named Sebastian Santiago. After failing to get him to impregnate their females with his special sperm - Santiago is a special hero, let's just say, because he can control his transformation - these lycans have starved him deliberately. They hope that Ruby's luscious flesh will force him to succumb to his inner beast. Ruby ends up giving him her virginity instead because she can sense his pain and suffering and we all know that virtuous heroines are trained to spread their legs to share the love around. But at least she doesn't get eaten - not in the literal sense anyway - so... um, hurrah, I guess.
After the pretty intense beginning where people die and everything is just beautifully ghastly, To Crave A Blood Moon eventually slows into a meandering crawl. The problem with this is that the whole set up soon becomes depressingly familiar. Santiago is the wounded special snowflake sort who is convinced that he is a monster, therefore he is not good enough to love Ruby. Ruby is convinced that everyone she loves will leave her, so she just hugs herself sadly as she lets Santiago walk away. Following these two is like attending a university course on low self-esteem. Unfortunately, their low self-esteem is the only distinctive trait of their personality. Whenever the opportunity arises, they whine and embark on long internal monologues about the same thing over and over again! There are only so many times I can listen to the same country song without wishing that someone will change the channel.
The subplot involving lycan antics starts out promisingly, but it soon becomes another "hero protects special heroine" story, one that has been done many times before. I give Ms Kohler credit for avoiding the tedious and overused "mate mate mate" shortcut in her story, but Ruby's special status that allows her to get to Santiago in a way no ordinary woman could is, in a way, a similar approach. Santiago doesn't seem to love Ruby as much as he needs to protect her and let her mother him. I don't know what Ruby sees in Santiago. He's a big bad werewolf, and she first meets him when she has recently seen lycans butchering people, and yet, because she can somehow sense that he is "different", she... er, loves him? In a way, her blind faith in his goodness - thanks to her special feelings, you know - is as much a shortcut as the mate bond thing is. She just loves him - that's just the way it is.
To Crave A Blood Moon is a readable story with some genuinely gripping moments especially in the first few chapters when hungry werewolves embark on their happy hour buffet, but it is still too familiar in so many ways to be considered a truly memorable read. It's a pleasant take on some familiar tropes in the genre, but not enough to stand out as memorable.
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