Blue Moon

By Any Other Name

The Daddy Quest

Dark Moon

A Sheriff in Tennessee

Mother of the Year

Rico

 
Crescent Moon
by Lori Handeland
(St. Martin’s, $6.99, R) ISBN 0-312-93848-9
**
Handeland’s Nightcreature series has a lot going for it. First, the author writes a very engaging first person narrative, which she continues in this installment using the voice of the heroine, Diana Malone. She has also created a pleasing werewolf mythology that centers on World War II. So it’s really too bad that Crescent Moon sinks under the weight of a completely unbelievable romance.

Diana Malone is a cryptozoologist, and has spent the last four years trying to prove that her late husband wasn’t crazy. Simon was obsessed with the paranormal and believed in werewolves. Unfortunately he was never able to prove it, even to his wife. Diana feels guilt over Simon’s death, and still being in love with him, she’s determined to pick up where he left off. When she gets a call from a reclusive millionaire about tracking down a werewolf in a swamp outside of New Orleans she packs her bags.

Diana quickly realizes that something spooky is going on, and meeting Adam Ruelle only makes her more suspicious. The locals believe Adam is either cursed or dead, but he keeps showing up around Diana. When another body is found in the swamp, Adam agrees to be her guide – but does he truly want to help her, or hinder her from learning the truth?

Diana makes for an interesting heroine, and at times she is quite appealing and funny. She has chosen to track mythical creatures not by choice, but out of love and guilt for her dead husband - a man she feels was her only shot at true love. Her attraction to Adam is at first unwelcome. Then she figures why not have a “just sex” fling? It’s not like she’ll fall in love with the man. That ship has sailed.

This is where the book suffers – the romance doesn’t exist. Diana is still totally hung-up on Simon. Also, Diana and Adam do not communicate. Color me crazy, by why do paranormal romance heroines keep having sex with heroes they suspect are a werewolf/vampire/tree nymph? Diana suspects for a very long time that Adam turns furry under the crescent moon, yet she has no problems falling into bed with him when the opportunity presents itself – which it frequently does.

As for the lack of communication – Adam’s job is to talk in circles and not answer Diana’s questions. Why she continues to rip her clothes off this guy is the real mystery. Handeland hints at some interesting baggage, but Adam’s psyche is never explored, and while the conclusion does provide some resolution, the reader is never able to climb inside his head. Frankly, he’s merely a hunky Cajun who says “de” instead of “the” and likes to boink Diana. It doesn’t make for riveting reading.

Crescent Moon ultimately starts out extremely promising and ends with a whimper. Diana’s voice is engaging; Handeland’s writing style intriguing, but the lackluster romance and climax make for a slap-dash finish. While the author does tie up a few threads, the actual resolution to the werewolf angle is never fully resolved and one suspects it will spill over into another book. This also causes a problem with the happily-ever-after, as while hero and heroine ride off into the sunset together there is still a black cloud hanging over their heads.

Fans of the series will find a continuation of what has come before, and Handeland is sure to use Diana and Adam in a future installment. Readers looking for something that stands alone, and actual conversation that doesn’t travel in circles should consider looking elsewhere.

--Wendy Crutcher


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