Monday, September 24, 2012

Beneath A Rising Moon

Beneath A Rising Moon, by Keri Arthur, is the first book in her Ripple Creek Werewolves series.  In the version of the world Arthur has created, humans and werewolves coexist, albeit maybe not too harmoniously.  Werewolves live in their own towns (reservations), there are certain measures upheld to control the werewolf population (basically, the males get some kind of birth control injection), and laws which apply to humans also apply to werewolves.  The werewolves do, however, have their own branch of law enforcement to deal with their own kind:  the rangers.  And it's a damned good thing, too.

So basic werewolf lore tells us that the full moon is a pretty big deal, and Arthur sticks to this.  The nights leading up to the full moon, everyone is more and more attuned to their wolfiness.  In Ripple Creek, Colorado, the Sinclair mansion outside town becomes the red light district; masked and clad in either nothing or next-to-nothing, they participate all night, every night of the moon phase in what is known as "the moon dance."  It seems to be akin to the idea of some kind of sexy pagan festival honoring the moon goddess.  There are centuries-old rules and rituals associated with it, and basically in this entire book, any time you see the word "dance," they are talking about sex.  Dancing = Sexing It Up.  Reverend Moore would have a heart attack.

Anyway, Neva Grant is part of the golden pack in town; telepathic and a powerful empath, she can use the energy from her own feelings and the feelings of others as a sort of psychic weapon.  Her twin sister, Savannah, is a ranger who has been investigating what appears to be a serial murder case; Savannah's determination and tenacity on the job has landed her a room in the ICU, unconscious, and Neva has made a vow to the moon to catch her sister's attacker.  Her plan for continuing the investigation is crazy and potentially dangerous, both to her physical person and her reputation in the pack.

The main lead in the case is the fact that the murderer is a silver wolf, which means the Sinclair family, the head of their silver pack, is at the top of the suspect list.  In fact, they basically make up the entire suspect list.  Their reputation in town among the more conservative golden pack doesn't help, either.  Word is that Duncan Sinclair, the most lascivious of them all, has returned after a ten year absence, and the easiest way Neva figures to gain access to the mansion is to seduce Duncan at the dance.  Once in, everyone else will be too occupied with copulating to pay attention to her snooping.  

What she didn't figure on, however, was the way she would react to him.  To his touch, his scent, his every part of him.  He seems to be living up to his reputation, though, so to allow herself to feel something for him, to hope that there could be more to their relationship than just the moon dance, would be crazy.  But it's too late to back out now...her sister is hanging on by a thread, and more women could be killed if this case isn't resolved.


I received this as an eBook from NetGalley, and it's actually the first eBook I've ever read.  I think I picked a good one!  Ha.  I'm a big fan of romance novels, whether they're good or so-bad-they're-good, and I really enjoyed this one; I read it straight through in one night.  The only other werewolf books I've read were Alisa Sheckley's Abra Barrow duology, and while I thought there was a lot of sexytimes either happening or being referred to in those books, this one has those beat.  If you are one of those people who skims along and skims along in a romance novel, just to get to the juicy bits, you might like Beneath A Rising Moon.  The smut begins early in the first chapter and is pretty constant throughout the entire book.

There is actually a story here, though, and it does not all revolve around "dancing."  The romance arc is a nice one to follow, and readers of romance in general will recognize the formula with this aspect:  the devilishly handsome reformed rake whose reputation still precedes him, the loathing that turns to lust that turns eventually to love.  It's one of my favorite patterns, because the loathing parts are always very entertaining.  I enjoy the snarky back-and-forth the characters usually share, and allow myself to get all swoony at the appropriate places as their relationship develops.  And the sex ain't bad, either.  Yes, I lol'd at "dancing" and because of an inside joke I have with my sister-in-law which involves the phrase "moontime," I giggled every time they referenced the moon with the dancing and such.  But overall, once they got into things, I thought Duncan offered a pretty good mix of tenderness and fuckyeahness.  So...thumbs up.

Besides all the steamy moondancing fun, though, Arthur gives us a fairly light murder mystery to make guesses about.  With the clues you as the reader are provided, it's pretty easy to figure out, but that always just makes the rest of the book more suspenseful for me, because I'm all wound up in my certainty and yelling at the characters' every move, anxious about whether or not they'll crack the case before anything else bad can happen.  

I thought Arthur had characters that were pretty well enough developed; there was definitely enough depth for me to either care about them or alternatively, to want to slap the ever-loving crap out of them and then kick them in the shins.  

Looking forward to reading the second in the series, which features Neva's twin sister, Savannah.



Dell Publishing

Series Info:  What came before this book?  What's next?
Ripple Creek Werewolves
* Beneath A Rising Moon (Book 1)
- Beneath A Darkening Moon (Book 2)

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Better World Books


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