The Trouble with Moonlight

Donna MacMeans
2008, Paranormal Historical (1870s [Victorian] England)
Berkley, $6.99, 304 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425221989

Grade: D+
Sensuality: Warm

The Trouble with Moonlight had a silly set-up with very little follow-through, and a relationship that was all follow-through and very little set-up. The result is a lot of wheel-spinning alternating with great leaps that left me shaking my head.

The females in Lusinda Havershaw's family are Nevidimi, women with "special gifts." Lusinda's gift is the ability to soak up moonbeams and become invisible - at least the parts of her that are unclothed. (Well, that's one way to get your heroine naked, I suppose.) She supports her aunt and younger sisters by recovering items for clients. She is "liberating" a necklace from a safe for a woman whose husband gambled it away, when she is seen - or at least, the necklace floating in midair is seen.

British spy James Locke was in the room with Lusinda to break into the same safe, but he was looking for papers, not jewels. The "Great Game" is in full swing, that time in history when the English and Russian Empires are both vying for supremacy in Central Asia. James is there to search the safe of a known Russian sympathizer who holds, so he believes, a list of British spies which cannot fall into the wrong hands. He can hardly believe his eyes, but quickly realizes that an invisible person would be very handy to the cause and so sets a trap for Lusinda, blackmailing her into helping retrieve the list.

And then, really, nothing much happens. Lusinda moves in with James - to protect her family, of course - and begins taking safecracking lessons. And then she goes back home. And then she goes back to James. And then somehow each is thinking - and with no foundation that I can see - how empty their lives were before they met each other and when they are apart. Say what? When did that happen? It's the classic case of an author telling, instead of showing how a relationship develops. I didn't believe it for one moment.

After convincing Lusinda that recovering the list was important, James dilly-dallies over the actual implementation - too dangerous. So there's not much happening on that front until a few weeks later when it suddenly must be done, but now the danger is even greater for Lusinda. Her invisibility is tied to the phases of the moon, being at its strongest during the full moon. By this time, there's very little moon left, and Lusinda must lie naked in the moonbeams - on the suspect's property - to soak up enough beams to become invisible. It just made no sense, other than to get her naked, of course.

I didn't hate The Trouble with Moonlight - scenes with James dealing with his PTSD after time in an Indian dungeon were effective, and the ending had its moments - but overall, this was one big miss for me.

-- Cheryl Sneed

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