Edge of the Moon
Some people might think comparing a single title to a very good series romance isn’t much of a compliment, but in this case it is. Rebecca York is a veteran series author, primarily for the Harlequin Intrigue line, whose books I used to enjoy a lot. Her most recent series books have disappointed, though, ranging from flat and uninvolving to one awful Harlequin Blaze. If Edge of the Moon is any indication, the longer format is good for her and she seems to have reclaimed the sharpness of her better books.
A string of disappearances have struck Kathryn Reynolds’s neighborhood, seemingly random people vanishing without a trace. The most recent missing person is Kathryn’s tenant and friend Heather DeYoung. Concerned when she doesn’t see or hear from Heather for several days, Kathryn sets aside her aversion toward the police and reports Heather missing.
Jack Thornton is the detective assigned to the case. A single father of two small children, he is immediately drawn to Kathryn, and she to him. But there are other forces at work they aren’t aware of, because Jack didn’t end up on the case by chance.
The missing people have all fallen victim to a killer who is using them as sacrifices to tap into a dark power and force a powerful entity to bend to his will. He’s gotten more than he bargained for, because this being has no intention of being enslaved. Needing mortal help to ward off this threat to his freedom, “he” pushed Jack and Kathryn together, and straight into the killer’s sights.
Suddenly Jack and Kathryn find themselves experiencing things they know can’t be real, as they’re manipulated by both the magician and his nemesis. There’s no rational explanation for what’s happening to them, but they’ll have to find one, before they become sacrifices in the battle between two magical forces.
It’s a cool idea that makes for an effective suspense story. The book begins by introducing the being Ayindral, which makes it clear from the start that this isn’t just another serial killer novel. It’s more like a chess game between two powers, as we’re shown both Ayindral and the killer manipulating the hero and heroine throughout the story, each trying to use them to his own advantage. Fortunately Jack and Kathryn aren’t passive characters. They’re fully involved in trying to figure out what’s going on and to stop the killer, especially when they learn there’s more at stake than their own lives.
The second book in a trilogy that started with Killing Moon, Edge of the Moon features appearances by the hero and heroine of that one but it’s not focused on the werewolf lore the earlier title established. York’s writing is crisp, which makes it easy to keep reading even during some early sections where the pacing drags. The story doesn’t really hit a groove until a few chapters in, when the supernatural element begins to have more of an effect on the hero and heroine. I really liked the way it was used in this story. There are some very nice touches and creative scenes, particularly related to the hero and heroine. But while these elements provide a good sense of atmosphere, both romantic and sinister at different points in the plot, they never overwhelm the story, but are fully ingratiated into it. The realistic setting keeps the story grounded in the real world, which helps the paranormal happenings seem that much more believable.
Edge of the Moon works better as a paranormal thriller than it does as a romance, but it’s being marketed as paranormal romantic suspense. The villain and his nemesis are more vivid, interesting personalities than either Jack or Kathryn, whose characterization is fairly perfunctory. In true suspense novel fashion, neither the hero nor heroine is developed much beyond a basic background and a few straightforward personality traits, all of which made it difficult to become engaged in their love story. The attraction between them also felt forced, and not in that usual paranormal sense of two people drawn together by supernatural means. The way they met and immediately couldn’t stop thinking about each other didn’t seem to be caused by Ayindral’s interference.
Edge of the Moon doesn’t match York’s very best books, like For Your Eyes Only or Nowhere Man (which is set to be reissued in September), which offered better combinations of strong suspense and effective romance. But for a solid paranormal thriller, it fits the bill.