Monday, September 10, 2007

Hidden Moon by Lori Handeland

Spoilers Alert!

Book Description

He’s got a secret...

Claire Kennedy left Lake Bluff, Georgia, for the bright lights of Atlanta and a promising career in journalism. Now, recovering from a cruel betrayal, she’s back in the one place she always felt safe, starting over as Lake Bluff’s new mayor. But then trouble comes to town in the form of Malachi Cartwright, a man whose past is as mysterious as his present—a man who awakens something dangerous in sensible, realistic Claire.

...That leaves her hungry for more

When a tourist claims to have been mauled by a vicious wolf, and when the attacks turn deadly, Malachi’s strange behavior rouses Claire’s suspicions. Could he have a secret agenda and a sinister reason for coming to Lake Bluff? Malachi is the only man who could tempt Claire to succumb to her desires—but he’s the last person she can trust. And as an eclipse approaches, the secrets of the hidden moon will come to light, and a deadly enemy will be revealed at last…

This was my first Handeland book and I was pleasantly surprised by the author’s effortless, vivid and enjoyable story-telling. That she chose to tell the story in the first-person narration (the Claire’s point-of-view) was another surprise, given that not many readers enjoy it…but as a gothic fan, it didn’t bother me in the least.

I really enjoyed the witty exchanges and camaraderie between the Claire and her childhood best friend, the mysterious and unassuming Grace. Their dialogues were amusing, snappy and familiar; totally befitting their long friendship. Their chemistry was fantastic…so fantastic that I could almost believe that they were lovers instead of just devoted friends.

I also liked the mood and atmosphere that the author deftly created – there was a definite dark and mysterious side to the picturesque small town of Lake Bluff – which was brought out and emphasized by the arrival of Malachi and his caravan of Gypsies.

Malachi was mystery-and-torment personified. His dark good looks, intensity and leashed power attracted Claire almost instantly. He also appeared and disappeared seemingly at the blink of an eye, and more than once, I was as startled as Claire was by his sudden appearance. Despite the power and danger that simmered just under his skin, he always treated the sweet, vulnerable Claire with gentleness and care. It was this gentleness and leashed power that made me wish that the author had let him truly loose once in a while – oh, how magnificent he would be in all his primal instincts!

I was a little let down by the ending, of how Malachi’s problems were finally solved and he could be with Claire permanently. It was a little too pat, too easy. I would have liked a little twist that made the happily-ever-after a little more difficult for them…but then, this was probably just my perversity rearing its ugly head again.

All in all, I’ve enjoyed this tale a lot. Reading Book 7 of this Nightcreature series, without first reading any the earlier books, did not hamper my enjoyment in any way. The story of Claire and Malachi was complete and satisfying in itself.

My rating4
Sensuality ratingWarm

Right after reading this book, I bought Book 6, Rising Moon, because it is set in one of the places that I find intriguing, the French Quarter, New Orleans – a place that calls out to me with its air of mystery, sexiness and old-world charm.

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