My first romance novel was Karen Marie Moning’s Beyond the Highland Mist. I stumbled on it by accident and soaked it up. Maybe not the best choice for a first-timer, but it hooked me and here I am today, addicted to the romantic written word. I will always be grateful to Ms. Moning for this. Even if I was skeptical about the new direction she was heading in with Darkfever, I enjoyed it. She’s come along way from that first time-traveling Scottish farce and I will be picking up the next in the series.
MacKayla Lane (cutely shortened to Mac) is an average small town girl who is just this side of never growing up. At 22 she takes a few classes at the local college, works as a bartender, and lives at home with the folks. She spends her days sunning by the pool and painting her nails various shades of pink. That is until her sister, who is studying abroad in Ireland, is murdered in an alleyway. When her sister’s case is put to the side for lack of evidence or leads, Mac heads overseas is a rush of anger and grief to confront the detectives and do a little investigating of her own. Her sister had left a confusing message on Mac’s voicemail shortly before she was killed, referencing the Sinsar Dubh – an evil Fae book – and now Mac must find it. Once in Ireland, Mac runs into brick wall after brick wall regarding her sister and the mysterious Sinsar Dubh until she stumbles upon a mysterious bookshop and its equally mysterious owner.
Jericho Barrons (what is up with names these days?) is as far from a knight in shining armor as a hero can get. He sees Mac for what she is: a sidhe-seer. A sidhe-seer can see the Fae as they walk the earth in their real form, separating them from their glamour. Mac has a bit more talent than that and Jericho, who is also searching for the Sinsar Dubh, is very upfront about using her to hunt it down.
The pair work together using Mac’s abilities and Jericho’s connections to search out the book and other Fae relics that are needed to read the book. Mac never forgets her own motives for working with him: searching for her sister’s killer. She does come close to a TSTL moment near the end, but it’s not as bad as usual. Under the circumstances, I might have done the same thing, stupid or not. Some people – even very smart ones – will do almost anything to avenge a love one and find answers
My quibbles are few and fairly inconsequential. There is a bit too much foreshadowing going on. I really could have done without the ever-present doomsday-esque “if I would have known then…” lines. Not a big deal and easily glossed over, though. Jericho’s mysteriousness was also trying at times. From a marketing standpoint, I know I will be reading more just to figure out exactly what he is and what he’s up to. But I wish the author would have thrown me a bone. Even a small one.
I rated Darkfever’s sensuality as warm, but not for the normal reasons. Fans of Ms. Moning know her for her hot loves scenes, which this title lacks. While my darker side was disappointed in the lack, I understand and respect the reasons behind it. This is the first in a series of five revolving around Mac. Instead of the hero and heroine jumping into bed together in the middle of the first book, the author is stringing them out and making their relationship an evolving one. It worked. This is a sensual book, though, thus the warm rating.
With this new change in direction, Karen Marie Moning doesn’t, as I had feared, jump the literary shark. She gives us enough to get us hooked and leave us panting for the next nine months until the next book in the series is due out. I’m sure established fans will want pick this up despite the steep hardcover price. Newbies might want to wait till the mass-market paperback comes out, but definitely give it a shot.