Jove, $7.99, ISBN 0-515-13831-2
Fantasy Romance, 2004
Moon Shadows is a gentle change from the overheated, over-the-top alpha werewolves and vampire stories out there. The thing is, they are still paranormal romances and while they may start off with a different premise than usual, the story eventually follows a familiar route where as usual Love Will Save The Day in an over-the-top mawkish manner reminiscent of those cheesy barbarian futuristics during the short-lived 1990s boom. The only thing that keeps me turning the pages is the refreshing lack of the same-old dominant alpha male sex scenes prevalent in too many of those sexy paranormal romances.
I like Nora Roberts’ story Wolf Moon the best but only because it’s a story where the writing is smooth enough to draw me into an otherwise familiar and even tepid tale. Simone has a secret. It involves her being bitten by a hairy beastie when she was hiking in Italy eleven years ago. Heavens, those Italian people are getting more unfriendly day by day, aren’t they? I’ll leave you to guess what her secret is. Go on, it’s not that hard to guess, I assure you. She lives like a hermit in a Maine mountain cabin but when the vet in town Gabe sniffs out her scent, the chase is on. This story offers nothing too different from what I’ve come across in countless werewolf romances before, except in this case the heroine doesn’t start off as some wide-eyed conservationist in some tight-fitting mid-thigh khakis and safari tank-top stumbling onto a wolf that makes her dream of horny sex (and she thinks of nothing abnormal or even icky about this, of course, because Miss Yellowstone here loves the critters!). Been there, done that, ho-hum.
Jill Gregory’s Moon Winter is just like the last few contributions by this author to the Once Upon a… Oh What the Heck, We Want Money, Give Us Money anthology series: a braindead Barbie doll on a quest and her hero to guide her (read: do all the work), deflower her, and save her from the baddie. The sorceress Ondrea the Terrible, whom I must point out is evil in case the author hasn’t made that clear enough, has sent the fair kingdom into a state of emergency when she strikes down Queen Lise, no nickname but I’d suggest The Hexed. It’s up to our heroine Gwynna, Lise’s sister, to save the day by traveling to the Valley of Org (what the…?) to face Ondrea. Has anyone ever considered the possibility that Ondrea is evil because she has a crummy name and is stuck in a place with an equally crummy name? Move her to Bermuda and she’ll probably become a ray of sunshine. Our hero, the only guy whose name doesn’t bring to mind a porn star or a He-Man cartoon reject, is Keir of Blackthorne. He’s the only man who knows the ins and outs of Org. Don’t ask me why he can’t go there by himself. This story is a thinly-veiled excuse for the heroine to do stupid things, goes eeeeee, and has Keir coming to her rescue. If I want to read about a parody-free B-grade barbarian romp, I’d… no, I’d rather not.
Ruth Ryan Langan’s Blood on the Moon has our Highlander heroine Alana Lament getting a little unusual help in her quest to defy the evil Laird Rothwick. This story is more of the same old schtick – the heroine is defined entirely by her taking care of the orphans and loving her man and the hero is appropriately broody. Still, a readable story.
I always have a hard time getting into Marianne Willman’s prose and West of the Moon is quite a tough story to go through because I find the author’s style more jarring than lyrical. This is a fae romance, where our heroine Phoebe’s life becomes entangled with Gordon Tremaine, a man she considers hideous. This could have been an interesting story, especially when Phoebe’s initial assumption of Gordon can make an intriguing obstacle in their relationship, but the author wastes time and words describing scenery and meandering scenes of Phoebe la-la’ing left and right before she meets Gordon. Are the fae really this dramatic, what with them going that Phoebe will die or Gordon will die if they make the wrong decisions? Interesting concept, this one, but the execution falls short of delivering.
Another anthology, another day. There will be more forgettable anthologies to come after this one, just as there are many forgettable anthologies that came before this one, and accordingly, this will be yet another lukewarm “So what?” review lost among the archives of this website. I don’t think this book can get any more nondescript than that.