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REVIEW: Crave the Moon by Lori Handeland

Dear Ms. Handeland,

I will admit to having lost touch with your Nightcreatures series. Silly me thought that you’d switched over to your Phoenix Chronicles and hadn’t been checking your website lately. Seems like I’ve missed not just one but two books in the process. Well, I’m back in the saddle with “Crave the Moon.”

Crave The Moon  by Lori Handeland Gina O’Neill has been trying to hang onto the Colorado ranch she inherited when her parents died trying to save her and her childhood friend Jase from a cave in that happened at a site on the ranch which has always been said to be cursed. Sometimes Gina would swear that she hears someone or something calling her name on the wind and still feels drawn back to the location of the accident. It’s a photo she takes of a bizarre tree in the area which leads Dr. Matteo Mecate, an archeologist trying to prove his deceased mother’s ridiculed Aztec theories to be true, to write Gina asking for permission to dig at the site. When he gets no response from her after repeated attempts to contact her, Matt heads to Colorado and, on the spur of the moment, passes himself off as another client at the dude ranch while he tries to discover the location where he thinks an Aztec superwarrior might have been buried centuries ago.

There is instant chemistry between Matt and Gina which of course gets ruined when Gina finds out Matt has been lying to her about who he is and why he’s there. It goes from bad to worse after independently wealthy Matt buys the ranch from the slimeball who bought Gina’s mortgage from the bank. Then things get worser still when the eons old creature buried and contained all those years ago finally gets out. Will anyone survive long enough to fall in love or is the world doomed if Gina and Matt can’t come up with a way to save the day?

I love that Matt is sort of geeky and has to have glasses or everything’s a blur – wow can I relate to that. He’s not media reference savvy but he’s got a hot bod. He’s also got that professorial habit of drifting off in his mind as he contemplates great things. Gina is nice, direct, no nonsense – what I’d expect a woman raised on a working western ranch to be. She leaves the flirty girly stuff to others. Gina does some token resistance of the feelings she has for Matt and he manages a half hearted effort but they’re pretty much like magnet and steel – maybe not quite a fated mate romance but darn close. I guess with all the other paranormal stuff to fit into the book this is the only way to do it. But do they have to do the “inappropriately timed fucky fucky” not just once but twice?! I’m thinking – werewolves all around, knowledge that the Nahual “master of all Aztec evil” can strike anywhere and these two cloud their mental “here and now” with bedsport? Time and Place people!

After ten books you’ve still maintained an inventive use of historical fact mixed with local legends and myths -this time Aztecs x Utes – plus a heaping dollop of imagination. Some parts of the basis of this book seem real – such as the willing Aztec sacrifice getting a year of goodies, while the trip north of the Aztecs to war against the Utes for sacrificial warriors is stretching it. But it is fun to read about and shows you put some time into at least trying to come up with something that sounds pseudo realistic. And then as the Nahual says to Matt – prove that this is wrong. Since in RL we are guessing/unsure about so much of Aztec life – anything could go. I love the way that Gina actually saves Matt when she fights the Nahual – [spoiler] it combines something of her fleeting thoughts as a human but much more of what she would feel as a werewolf – the Nahual is messing with the human she wants and by damn no one is going to take her prey. [/spoiler]

This is a paranormal and I know I should just let go and free fall into it but some things still bother me. I agree with Gina that two sorcerers are one too many. Then there’s the part about certain people having a damn good idea of the extent of the evil locked up in this little corner of Colorado and not much being done beyond spreading rumors of something evil there to try and keep people away. Then things really go downhill as the voodoo priestess gets involved. And are they just going to leave the Nahual like he was before? They know that doesn’t always work. Plus I have some unanswered questions – why did the Nahual bite Amberleigh and not get everyone else too? If horses are spooked by werewolves, why didn’t they bolt from the barn the first night? Also how much longer is Edward Mandenauer going to still be around. The guy must be pushing the upper 80s by now. But he’s still got his network of minions and seemingly endless supply of weapons and cool stuff to use in the battle against monsters. I want minions!

Like a newly turned werewolf craving human blood, I find I’m still helpless to resist these books. Weak! I’m weak I tell you. The title might be “Crave the Moon” but I crave the Nightcreatures. B-

~Jayne

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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

10 Comments

  1. BJ
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 06:36:54

    Good review, thanks! Author and series are unfamiliar to me, so I’ll definitely be checking them out further…

  2. DS
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 07:50:57

    I think I’ve read three of her books always hoping that the author would get her plot together. In fact you are the one that got me started with a review of one I never got to because I started with the first in the series. There’s always some plot elements that just don’t make any sense. She is also the queen of the deus ex machina. After writing her characters into a corner she whips out some page of a text with just the magical spell that is needed to defeat the Big Bad.

    I always thought that she would be a decent popular writer is she could get someone to vet her plots.

    But the real reason I am writing this comment is the voodoo priestess– is this the red haired voodoo priestess from an earlier book?

  3. Jayne
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 07:56:00

    @BJ: I think there are 12 books in the series + an anthology entry or two so you’ve got plenty to choose from. And I honestly don’t think it makes any difference in the first 1-6 which ones you read. Later on, she gives the background of the monster hunting society in shorthand.

  4. Jayne
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 07:59:56

    @DS: Yeah, all your issues with the series are here too. It’s a question of whether or not a reader is willing to put up with a little WTF?! along with the writing.

    And yes, that is the same priestess from the earlier book. In this case she’s the dea ex machina who comes up with a way to get them out of the trouble corner Handeland painted them into.

  5. Janine
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 13:41:24

    Jayne, since you read so few paranormals, I’m curious what draws you to Handeland’s books over other paranormals. Is there something that makes them stand out?

  6. DS
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 16:46:27

    @Jayne: I think the thing that really irritates me about her books are that she can start out with a fast paced, interesting story.

    If she wrote like Cassie Edwards or Barbara Cartland I would just shrug and go on thinking she couldn’t do any better. I rather suspect she can do better,but chooses not to for whatever reason.

  7. Jayne
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 18:09:33

    @Janine: I began reading them back when paranormal was still a red headed stepchild of romance. They were new and different and I really enjoyed the first few books and the fact that the paranormal creatures are generally the evil in the book. Now…they are my crack cocaine.

  8. Jayne
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 18:10:45

    @DS: She has written some historicals – Westerns I believe. Have you tried those to see it they work better? I’d be curious to know that myself.

  9. Janine
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 20:37:04

    @Jayne:

    Now…they are my crack cocaine.

    LOL!

  10. DS
    Jul 27, 2011 @ 12:32:07

    @Jayne: I just checked Amazon and she has one of her books for $2.99

    Genny McGuire lost everything in the War Between The States. Since then she has been haunted by the dream of a white eagle, which brings her both happiness and despair. Determined to discover the truth behind what she believes is a prophecy, Genny heads for Bakerstown, Texas and comes face-to-face with Keenan Eagle, the dangerous, half-breed bounty hunter known as White Eagle.

    Here’s an old Lovespell:

    Struggling with a bad marriage and foreclosure on her horse ranch, young widow Katherine Logan has neither time nor inclination to take responsibility for some low-down bandit, until the sight of wickedly tempting Jake Banner changes her mind.

    I might give the Lovespell a try. No dreams or halfbreeds (that I know of) and some of the Lovespells from the 90′s weren’t bad.

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