Desert Isle Keeper
When Zoey Tyler is attacked by a rogue wolf and rescued by a toothsome veterinarian, she has no idea that her life is going to change forever. In fact, both her attacker and her savior are werewolves, and Zoey is quickly drawn into their complex issues. These issues and a wonderful cast make Dani Harper’s Changeling Moon a meaty, compelling shifter romance.
To escape her famous family’s reputation as powerful psychics, and to hide abilities which have made Zoey miserable her entire life, Zoey changes her name and moves to Dunvegan, a tiny town in Canada, where she takes a job as editor of the weekly paper. One night, having stayed late to finish her notes on a town council meeting, Zoey finds that she’s the last person to leave City Hall. The previously clement day has turned miserably cold with an icy rain, and Zoey is the only person on the street. When she arrives at her SUV she realizes that it is completely frozen shut with her cell phone locked inside. While she’s struggling to force her way inside, Zoey becomes aware that she’s being stalked by a huge wolf. She leaps atop her icy truck, breaking off a windshield wiper, but is not fast enough to stop the wolf from biting her leg through her boot. She whips the monster’s face with the wiper until he lets go, but is then trapped on top of her truck in a freezing rain, her clothing inadequate to ward off hypothermia.
Veterinarian Connor MacLeod is returning home, exhausted from a long day of calving, when his farsight shows him a terrible vision of a woman in danger. He searches the streets until he finds the scene from his vision and causes the werewolf to run away from the truck it has obviously been menacing. Connor is shocked when, instead of finding a weeping damsel locked in the truck, he looks up and meets Zoey’s fierce eyes for the first time. Connor is extremely impressed when he realizes Zoey held off a werewolf with nothing but a windshield wiper. He immediately wants to get to know her a lot better, but first he has to deal with her werewolf bite and hypothermia. He warms her and then treats the bite with silver nitrate, which kills the werewolf saliva so Zoey doesn’t become an unwilling Changeling. These events make for a wonderful start, but then the real fun begins.
I love a good villain, and this book has two. The rogue werewolf, Bernie, has been making trouble for the pack ever since he moved into the area, indiscreetly killing cattle and letting himself be seen. In fact, he’s responsible for the werewolf stories and furor a few years ago from which the town has not completely recovered. Now he’s outed the pack to Tad Helfren, a paranormal investigator who’ll do anything for a story – including beating up a woman. Soon after he arrives in town, asking questions and causing problems, Helfren invades Zoey’s office and offers her a deal to tell her story once she becomes a werewolf, promising they’ll both become rich and famous. A werewolf?! Zoey decides the guy is unbalanced, and when she refuses him they become involved in a physical confrontation. Both Helfren and Bernie soon prove to be completely unprincipled.
There is a lot of action in this book, both good and bad. The scenes flow easily from romantic moments at Connor’s beautiful, remote farm, to murder and cattle mutilation in Zoey’s unfortunate visions, and back to romance, humor, and treachery again. The pace is excellent and Ms. Harper’s writing skill is undeniable. The only, very slight, drawback is the issue of Connor’s inner wolf causing problems in the growth of his and Zoey’s relationship, but the author doesn’t let that drag on too long, and the slight hitch is soon forgotten.
For an such an exciting book, Changeling Moon does not stint on sweet romantic moments. One late night, in the early stages of their relationship, Zoey receives a frantic call from Connor. He needs an extra pair of hands to help deliver fourteen puppies by emergency C-section. Together they save the puppies and the mother dog. Then they cuddle up together on the office couch to watch over the new family and fall asleep in each others’ arms. Affection, imagine that! A couple acting so naturally was a breath of fresh air after some of the books I’ve read recently. These “getting to know you” scenes are plentiful and warm, a true pleasure to read. Which is not to say that there aren’t some very nice love scenes later, when the relationship has developed.
The secondary characters are important to the story and they’re fully fleshed and beautifully portrayed. With a couple of conversations and a few paragraphs the reader knows all they need to know about several members of the pack, friends of the pack, and Connor’s family. One scene where Connor’s brother masquerades as a dog while in his wolf form is particularly entertaining. It illustrates in just a few pages how close Connor is to his family and how clever and funny and understanding his brother can be. Hopefully we’ll revisit these characters, especially Connor’s brothers, in later books.
Changeling Moon has everything you can ask for in a romance. If you enjoy a nice love story with interesting characters, tautly written with a well developed backstory, and set against a backdrop of violence and mystery, this is your book. Highly recommended.