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REVIEW: Crave the Moon by Lori Handeland

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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Dear Author

REVIEW: Thunder Moon by Lori Handeland

Dear Ms Handeland,

Book CoverYour books are like potato chips or popcorn or anything smothered with chocolate. I can’t stop reading them anymore than I can restrict myself to one serving of a snack that’s bound to go straight to my hips and stick there like superglue. Sigh. Just when I think that you must be running out of supernatural legends or myths to bring into the Jager Sucher world, you trot out another one and write a book about it. And yes, I did google the subject of the latest paranormal beastie to bedevil your characters and also noticed a bunch of other legends listed at one site in particular. Seems like every group/clan/bunch of people have their own particular bugaboo to scare them in the dark.

After reading last years entry in your Nighcreatures series, “Hidden Moon,” I knew that Cherokee sheriff Grace McDaniel would a heroine at some point. She’s another of the “tough as nails” women you seem to specialize in and of whom I can’t get enough. But while some heroines like this end up grating on my last nerve, yours have enough of a sense of humility and poke fun at themselves enough so that I can laugh along with them.

Grace is competent at her job, willing to roll with the punches, cares about the people she’s been sworn to protect, even the drunks and rednecks, and can track almost anything that walks through the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Georgia town of Lake Bluff. Things which move right through solid objects and can fly might stump her for a little while but she soon figures out what to do about them too. I also like that she doesn’t get along with Elise Hanover (Dark Moon is one of my least favorite of this series) as I can’t stand Elise either. So sue me.

Books written in first person don’t bother me. In fact I often enjoy them quite a bit but sometimes I do miss not having the other lead character’s point of view. Since you usually have your heroine suspect her hero of being the baddie for at least a little bit of the book, I can see why you need to restrict what we the readers know but I wistfully wonder what goes on in the minds of these heroes. Ian Walker, another hero with secrets in his past, pops up in Grace’s world right when things start to go wonky and the music from “The Twilight Zone” should start sounding in her head. It doesn’t help Grace’s equilibrium that the heat between these two sizzles like the thunder which starts the story. But she is clear headed enough to order her deputy to investigate Ian’s bona fides as a doctor.

I like Ian yet I felt that some of his revelations were veering towards deus ex machina territory. I also didn’t care for Elise Hanover’s closed mouth. Yeah, I did mention I don’t like her, right? One character I was happy to see again is Doc Bill, the local ME. I bet he could entertain a lot of people at the next medical conference he attends.

Looking back at some of my previous letters, it would appear that many of the issues that annoyed me are ones which still do so I guess I just need to deal with it for future books. But then, what’s the deal with the Jager Suchers? Is this the end of this series? Or is there more to come? I couldn’t help laughing at the way Grace follows their underground actions by reading the tabloids but if it works for the MiB, then why not a small town Sheriff. From the excerpt at the end of “Thunder Moon” it seems that you’ve got a new series planned. I await it eagerly. B

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market. No ebook format. Please, St. Martin, please get with the twenty first century.