2008, Shapeshifter Romance
Pocket Books, $6.99, 352 pages, Amazon ASIN 1416542272 Part of a series
Sharie Kohler is aka Sophie Jordan
Are you tired of vampires but love paranormal romance? Well then pick up Marked By Moonlight, the first in a new series about lycans (werewolves). It features a great heroine, a yummy hero, and several secondary characters whom I know we will see again since this is the first book in a new series, The Moonchasers.
Claire Morgan is a teacher. She is shy, thinks herself plain and avoids conflict, having grown up in a home where her bullying father was prone to use his fists. She is passionate about her pupils and, as the story begins, she has gone to see Lenny Alvarez. Lenny is smart, but lives in a troubled home in a bad neighborhood. Claire has been tutoring him for his ACT tests, but he's not only missed regular class, but her sessions too, and she's worried about him. While trying to find Lenny, Claire is attacked and bitten by a dog and badly shaken up.
Unknown to Claire, that was not a dog that attacked her, it was Lenny. Lenny had been turned by an alpha lycan and that's the reason for his absence from school. When it's the time of the full moon, lycans attack and Claire was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hiding in the shadows observing it all is Gideon March, an agent for NODEAL, the National Organization for Defense against Evolving and Ancient Lycanthropes. He is one of many men (the organization is all male) who are sworn to kill all lycans (they all carry a supply of silver bullets). Gideon shoots Lenny, putting the tormented young man out of his misery, and normally he would kill Claire as well since she has been bitten and will turn at the next full moon, but he simply can't do it. When he confronts Claire she thinks he is insane even though she has no explanation for the changes that have taken place in her body. Gideon must make Claire believe his story and then they have to find the alpha who attacked and turned Lenny. If Gideon can kill the alpha before the next full moon, Claire will not be damned to lycanthropy.
Marked By Moonlight is a straightforward story without a lot of complex world building. I've read some paranormal books that had such complex rules for their worlds as to totally confuse the reader. Not so here; I was perfectly at home from the very beginning. I will admit that it does strain credulity since the book posits that there are lots of lycans out there, lots and lots of lycans who are committing lots and lots of murders, rapes and other crimes, plus there's this worldwide group of NODEAL agents who fight them and all the while no one notices them. But I'm pretty good at suspending my disbelief, so I went with the set up and enjoyed it.
Claire is a wonderful example of the mouse who roars. As a child her bully of a father subjected her to emotional and physical abuse and she grew up trying hard not to be noticed. She is sweet and pretty, but thinks herself ugly and as a teacher she sometimes has problems with troublemakers in her class. After her encounter with the lycan and before she knows what has happened, she finds herself not only physically stronger, but also able to stand up to her father and able to make one of the worst troublemakers in her class stand down and respect her. Claire walks tall, is more forceful and has a presence she never had before. When Claire realizes what has caused this, of course she wants to get back to her normal self, but a part of her doesn't want to go back to the spineless creature she once was.
For Gideon, killing lycans is personal. His mother was attacked by one and she killed his father in her mindless rage. Gideon and his sister were taken in by Cooper, head of the North American branch of NODEAL and for a number of years, Gideon has done nothing but kill lycans. Meeting Claire causes him to examine his work and his life, and he gets further food for thought when he meets the lycan Darius. Darius is older than any other and he is not the mindless ravisher that Gideon thinks all lycans are. I am very sure that we will meet Darius again in a future book, and I am looking forward to reading it.
Marked By Moonlight has its share of small problems. Gideon and Claire have a short time to find the alpha lycan before her change is irreversible, and if I was in their place, I'd be spending more time out looking and less time having sex. And at the end, Claire pulls an "I am stupid and ugly and Gideon will not love me, so I will just leave him without explanation" stunt that had me wanting to shake her. However, I was able to overlook these small problems. This was a very enjoyable read and I know I will be following this series.
-- Ellen Micheletti
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