Call of the Highland Moon

Kendra Leigh Castle
2008, Shapeshifter Romance
Sourcebooks Casablanca, $6.99, 374 pages, Amazon ASIN 1402211589
Part of a series

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Warm

Call of the Highland Moon, aside from being the first book in a (get ready for it) new shapeshifter series, is Castle’s debut novel. While I could have done without some stereotypical romance characteristics, the book impressed me. The smart, witty prose drew me in and made this a fun read.

Gideon MacInnes has spent his whole life doing what’s right,and accepting his responsibility as the future Alpha of his Pack. Like most people who constantly follow the rules, he decides that he needs to do something unexpected, especially since his future is looming near. So, he leaves his home in the Highlands of Scotland and goes to America. While in a remote part of northern New York, however, he finds himself longing for home and finally acknowledges that he’s not the bad-boy, wandering type and that it’s time to go back. Unfortunately, during a night of roaming as a wolf, he is attacked by some unfamiliar werewolves. He manages to kill one of them, but is almost mortally wounded and needs help quickly. Drawn to an alley by an indescribable scent and pull, he collapses at a woman’s door and puts his life in her hands.

As the owner of a romance bookstore called Bodice Rippers and Baubles, Carly Silver willingly admits that she often hides from life. Her romances occur in the pages of her books and, while she might dream of a gorgeous knight in shining armor, she knows that if he showed up, she’d probably be too shy to do anything about it. But she does like company and has a big heart, so when a completely mauled, giant dog shows up on her porch, she takes him home with her, never mind the fact that the dog looks remarkably like a wolf. She doesn’t really expect the dog to live, but is considerably more surprised when she wakes up and there’s a naked man in her bed.

Gideon rather quickly explains just what he is and Carly, against her better judgment and because he’s wounded, allows him to stay with her. However, when she asks him if whoever or whatever attacked him will be coming back, he lies and tells her that it was only one wolf and he took care of it. This allows her to focus on the fact that she has a hot, large male snowed in with her, one to whom she is incredibly drawn. Gideon feels the sparks as well, but he understands that there is a deeper reason than lust. He’s pretty sure that Carly is his mate, though he fights against the attraction because he believes she is too delicate to withstand the Change. His mother died when his father tried to turn her and he will not risk Carly’s life that way, as he surely must if their relationship progresses. After much mental lusting on both sides and despite knowing that they will separate soon, the two become lovers in spite of themselves.

However, something is stalking them. Gideon’s crazy aunt and cousin are trying to take over the pack and have employed some werewolves to take out the heir. However, one of those assassins is more than just a werewolf. He is an exiled Drakkyn, an evil creature who revels in death and follows another master. Parts of this side of the story did not make a whole lot of sense until the end of the story, though. This did not cause as many problems as it might have since the focus rests more on Gideon and Carly’s relationship than on the action. However, when the battles occurred, I did feel gypped by their brevity.

The story begins strongly, and evocative language and witty writing pulled me instantly into the story. There were plenty of funny, clever moments and I enjoyed the author’s style. The characters will intrigue many readers and I’m sure that readers will also be able to relate to the cute owner of Bodice Rippers and Baubles (isn’t that a great name?). Also, the sexual tension was high and the love scene pretty hot.

The book’s weaknesses came in the form of several romance stereotypes. There is an awful lot of mental lusting going on. The two know each other a total of three days during almost the whole book, yet Carly is in love with Gideon on the second day. This could work if done a different way, but for all of the first day she is understandably wary of the strange wolf in her house. I was bothered by a lot of unexpected or overblown reactions which I assume were meant to keep the tension up between them, but again in the context of three days, these lend a shallow nature to their relationship. Along that line, there was a false sense of familiarity, such as when Gideon sees Carly chewing her lip and he thinks that she always does that when she’s nervous. How would he know? He’s been around her for 36 hours. Without the built-in connection of werewolf mates, I would have found parts of the relationship much too quickly developed.

Call of the Highland Moon had some average qualities and some unbelievable moments, but overall I really enjoyed Castle’s style. The prose contains a lot of intelligence and I’m excited to see what happens as her writing matures. Luckily, I won’t have to wait too long, since the next book comes out in October.

-- Andi Davis

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