Edge of the Moon

Crimson Moon by Rebecca York
(Berkley, $6.99, R) ISBN 0-425-19995-9
Johnny Marshall lands himself in a whole lot of trouble during the opening chapter in York’s latest entry in her werewolf Moon series. After a bar room brawl leaves him near death, and accused of murder, he slips away into the night only to take on a new identity. As Sam Morgan he’s a staunch environmentalist and part time cat burglar who raids the homes of industry tycoons who pollute the land.

His latest target is the lumber baron Wilson Woodlock. Sam secures an invitation to a party at the Woodlock estate in order to case the joint, only to run across the man’s lovely daughter Olivia. Sam is immediately smitten, intrigued and ticked off. How could Olivia Woodlock, daughter of his sworn enemy, turn out to be his mate? Naturally the two are inexplicably drawn to each other.

Little does Sam know that Olivia has plans for him. An enemy of the family, the dastardly Luther Ethridge, has stolen a secret elixir that is vital to the survival of the entire Woodlock family. Olivia and her brother, Colin, decide to employ the help of a master thief, and Sam draws the straw. Against his better judgment he decides to help, only to become embroiled in the politics of the dysfunctional family and face the wrath of a madman.

Lord deliver readers from heroes who know up front that the heroine isn’t telling them the truth but decide to help them anyway. I’m sure the desire to bed the delectable Olivia was all consuming, but the fact that Sam happily traipses along with her scheme without demanding answers is just plain insulting. Why he doesn’t shake the truth out of her until her teeth rattle is anyone’s guess.

However this inability to demand answers isn’t Sam’s only fault – the man’s motives are a total mystery. Business tycoons who rape the land and pollute the water supply sicken him. So what does our boy do? Sneak onto job sites with a secret camera? Go undercover with a hidden microphone? Work with federal agencies to shut these businesses down? Nope. Our boy decides to go into their homes and steal their valuable baubles. Yeah, that will teach them! I’m sure these unscrupulous businessmen will quickly realize, “Well darn. My valuable collection of Ming vases has been stolen. I guess I better stop dumping sewage into the Pacific Ocean.”

Then there’s the romance, which just plain doesn’t work. Like many werewolf romances before it, Crimson Moon relies on the whole “you’re my mate” angle. Olivia and Sam are immediately attracted to each other, with sexual energy crackling between them. The lust is certainly understandable. But then Sam drops the whole “you’re my mate” thing into Olivia’s lap, she’s perplexed for a few pages, then she’s declaring her love. Huh? How about a little free will to move the love match along? Call me crazy, but a love life predestined by fate, of which you have no control or say over, is not romantic.

The suspense here is actually pretty good as it has a gothic edge to it. There’s even vast estates and creepy atmosphere. It’s just unfortunate that the hero’s motivation and the romance weren’t up to snuff. The ending is rather exciting, as by that point the author has let the reader in on the Woodlock secret that Olivia has hidden from Sam for the majority of the story. Fans of the series will likely find some enjoyment here, as Sam’s brother Ross puts in an appearance. Those annoyed by Big Secrets would do wise to think twice.

--Wendy Crutcher

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