Beneath a Rising Moon
Beneath a Rising Moon by Keri Arthur is a werewolf-heavy paranormal romance. A copy of the book was provided to me by the US publisher for review purposes. I believe it was first published in 2008 (UK/Aus) and the edition I read was a US re-release.
This is the second book of Keri Arthur’s I’ve read, the first being Full Moon Rising, the first Riley Jensen Guardian book. Because I can’t help comparing, I’ll say I enjoyed Riley Jensen more, partly because she kicked more arse, partly because Full Moon Rising was set in Melbourne and partly for reasons I’ll get to shortly.
Beneath a Rising Moon follows Neva and Duncan as they investigate a series of murders in a small werewolf town in the vicinity of Aspen, and discover that they are soul mates.
Neva’s twin sister — to whom she is psychically linked — is head ranger and was attacked by the murderer but survived. While she’s in hospital, Neva decides to do some investigating of her own. As the full moon approaches, she goes to the Sinclair Mansion, renowned for its debauchery, and seduces the one Sinclair she knows can’t be the murderer, Duncan.
Duncan, meanwhile, has returned to Ripple Creek to investigate the murders that are somehow linked to his family (the dead girls were all sexual partners of his brothers). He quickly becomes suspicious of Neva’s motives in approaching him, believing her to be somehow linked with the murderer. So he decides to be an arsehole to her to get her to admit her motivations.
That was the point where the book lost a bit of appeal for me. While I understood what Duncan was trying to do, some of the ensuing sex scenes were a bit rapey (yes, I mean forcing her to have sex with him when she doesn’t want to and also while she’s asleep) and rather put me off. Then later, when everyone works out what’s going on, Duncan feels bad and tries to make amends but at no point does he sit down and apologise and explain to Neva. That she got over it anyway made me like her less as a character, although in general she was pretty good. Apparently they were destined to be together, but I would have liked to have more time spent on them overcoming their issues as a couple rather than just their personal issues (which were also plentiful).
Overall, Beneath a Rising Moon was well written and full of steamy sex scenes (except for those discussed above). If you enjoy paranormal romance and don’t think my qualms above would bother you, then give Beneath a Rising Moon a shot. Personally, I think other Keri Arthur books might be more my thing.
3.5 / 5 stars
Rogue Gadda by Nicole Murphy
Rogue Gadda by Nicole Murphy is the final instalment of the Dream of Asarlai trilogy. You can read my reviews of the first book, Secret Ones, and the second book, Power Unbound, at their respective links.
Rogue Gadda is definitely the best of the trilogy. Murphy’s writing has steadily improved over the three books, culminating in the the final instalment with the resolution of the over-arching plot. I found Rogue Gadda to have a more complex plot with more layers than the previous books including an unexpected twist in the middle.
As with the first two books, Rogue Gadda follows the stories of two characters, one of which is a Guardian of the gadda (the magic race based in Ireland) and the other a somewhat outside gadda. Being paranormal romance, of course they end up together after some plot-based ups and downs. This time, the male lead was Hampton who made some appearances in the earlier books and who is heavily involved with working with the other guardians to retrieve the forbidden texts that the villain stole in book 1. The female lead is Charlotte, one of the lost gadda who broke off from the main group centuries ago. She lives in Boston running an aromatherapy oil (sort of) shop and doesn’t know very much about the gadda until hers and Hampton’s paths cross. Because the main characters change from book to book, each of the trilogy could be read as stand-alone. Even though the over-arching climax takes place in Rogue Gadda, Charlotte is relatively new to the world of gadda and needs things explained, not in a repetitive boring way, but in a way that would probably help a reader who just picked up this book.
I have to say, I wasn’t a big fan of Charlotte. She wasn’t a poorly written character, nor did she behave stupidly or annoyingly, I just got the feeling that in real life we definitely wouldn’t be friends. Obviously, this is a completely subjective opinion that I wouldn’t particularly expect others to share, but I did get a bit sick of her towards the end.
Overall, I enjoyed Rogue Gadda the most out of the trilogy and I highly recommend it to lovers of paranormal romance, even if they aren’t able to get a hold of the earlier books.
4.5 / 5 stars
Power Unbound by Nicole Murphy
Power Unbound, by Nicole Murphy, is the second book in the Dream of Asarlai trilogy. You can read my review for the first book, Secret Ones, here.
Where Secret Ones followed Maggie and Lucas, Power Unbound shifts to following Ione, Maggie’s best friend, and Stephen, a gadda who is about to sit for the highest test of power. Although there are a few scenes in Austin, Texas, most of this novel is set in Ireland. Despite the shift in character focus, the overarching plot continues on from the first book, featuring more prominently, and all the characters we like from the first book pop up again.
Ione is unique among gadda for having particularly weak power, despite coming from an old and powerful family. She came to terms with it long before the story started and spends her time working as a computer programmer. She’s also a widow and has a young (10 or 11 year old) son to look after. It would be easy to say that Ione offers more depth of character than Maggie did, but I think what really makes this story better is Murphy’s development as a writer. (And the fact that Lucas’s past in the first book wasn’t exactly straight forward.)
The whole novel hangs together better and I found it more enjoyable. The romantic plot line is less linear and, while we know that the two characters will end up together (it is paranormal romance, after all), the obstacles in their way felt less artificial. It was more about them being silly than external circumstances, which I liked.
The fantasy plot line was more action-packed than in Secret Ones. The danger was greater and the stakes were higher. Also, more progress was made working out who’s been behind all the evil shenanigans. Unlike the first book, it felt less like the relevant characters were flailing around not getting anywhere. (To be fair, in the first book the trouble was quite different in nature and didn’t initially seem to be connected to the overarching plot.)
The end of Power Unbound set up the final book in the trilogy quite well. Unfortunately, I have to wait a few months before I can read it (I want a matching paper set, not the ebook), but I definitely want to know what happens next and how everything is resolved. Oh, I should also mention that while the overarching plot follows on from Secret Ones, I think it’s possible to read Power Unbound by itself. It contains some spoilers for the first book, but doesn’t actually rehash all the details, so you could still read the first book afterwards. Of course, it’s better to read them in order but if, for example, you’re particularly interested in the Ditmar eligible works which include Power Unbound and the third book, Rogue Gadda, you could probably get away with skipping Secret Ones.
Overall, Power Unbound was an enjoyable read. I definitely recommend it to fans of paranormal romance.
4 / 5 stars
Secret Ones by Nicole Murphy
Secret Ones is Nichole Murphy’s debut novel, published by Harper Voyager (Aus) in 2010. It’s a paranormal romance novel set in Ireland and rural New South Wales. Being a paranormal romance, rather than straight urban fantasy, the romantic plot line was significantly more prominent than what I usually read, which was an interesting change of pace.
The main character, Maggie, is one of the gadda, a race of magic-wielding people who look human, but aren’t (and can’t interbreed). Generally, the gadda start their magic training at the age of thirteen, then progress through levels of examinations as they gain more control of their powers. Maggie, however, didn’t want to start when she was thirteen. She stubbornly chose to finish her ordinary human schooling before entering the gadda world at eighteen. Even after joining the ranks of magic users, she continued to pursue human studies, slowing down her magical studies. The result is that, refreshingly, she isn’t a teenager (it’s possible I’ve been reading too many YA urban fantasy novels with be-all and end-all romantic plotlines) and nothing that happens is particularly unrealistic in terms of her reactions and how she deals with it etc. (And of course, there are more sex scenes than in YA.)
The male lead is a physicist (entirely biased yay!) who crosses the heroine’s path when he takes a research position in Australia at her grandfather’s university. Smart, smoking hot and with a dark past, he makes an excellent foil for Maggie and, to an extent, offers an outsider’s perspective on the gadda.
I found the structure of Secret Ones different to other urban fantasy books I’ve read (admittedly, I can only think of one other paranormal romance book I’ve read recently, so it could just be me). The romantic plot line seemed to be more or less tied up before the climax of the fantasy storyline happens a bit suddenly and then there are more ramifications than I expected. Which isn’t to say the novel was badly paced; quite the contrary, in fact. I didn’t feel bored at any point and there weren’t any paragraphs I wanted to skip. It was just different to what I’m used to.
Secret Ones is book one in a trilogy, but the other two books, Power Unbound and Rogue Gadda focus on other characters. That means that, while the overarching plot isn’t resolved, there was no cliff hanger at the end. Sometimes it’s nice not to feel like the world will end if you don’t pick up the next book straight away. …That said, I think I will pick up Power Unbound next.
I found Secret Ones to be an enjoyable, light read. I recommend it to anyone who feels like a bit of paranormal romance or urban fantasy.
3.5 / 5 stars