Unlike many other paranormal romances, Lady Moonlight works as both a fantasy and a romance, because the faeries are integral to the plot. Unfortunately, the main characters don’t get to interact often enough. Though there is no big separation, there are many shorter ones. Also, the stubborn behavior of the heroine nearly spoiled the story. All in all, this is a mixed bag.
In 1899, Aisling Ahearn makes a deal with a leprechaun to escape an unwanted marriage to Ambros O’Hara. But the deal proves costly. If Aisling doesn’t find her true love within a century, she will be forced to marry the leprechaun. There are two main obstacles: Aisling appears to human eyes as a white mare, except during the full moon, and when she learns that her true love must be an O’Hara, Aisling refuses to consider the idea.
In 1982, a lonely American teenager named Con Sloan is visiting his grandfather at O’Hara House. The only bright spot in his visit comes when he meets Aisling. He sees her twice before going home. A few years later, Con returns to Ireland and meets Aisling again. On Con’s last day in Ireland, they share a long, sweet love scene. Yet when Aisling finds out he’s an O’Hara, she rejects him. It is a long time before Con returns to Ireland. Will Aisling be able to accept him as her true love in time?
Both Aisling and Con have endured childhoods with distant parents. Con has come to hate horses because his parents spent all their time with horses, neglecting him. Con’s relatives were disappointed in him because he didn’t like horses, even though he was hugely successful in his field. In fact, it seemed that everybody in the family hated, misunderstood, or neglected Con. The novel would have been more believable if at least some family members had been understanding. Still, we do see Con grow, while Aisling seemed too prone to stamp her foot and insist that she hated the O’Haras. But the relationship between Con and Aisling did grow at a natural pace, consistent with the awkwardness of young love.
The realm of the faeries was true to folklore. The faeries were shallow, selfish creatures who lived only for the present. Some readers will be put off by their silly, and often cruel, behavior. They saw nothing wrong with laughing at someone’s embarrassment, yet they forbade tears because they wanted only happiness. Aisling was an outcast among them because she had a conscience.
When I started this novel, I thought I’d be confused by the timelines. The novel has scenes taking place in 1899, in the 1980s, and in 1999, as well as scenes taking place in the faerie realm. Luckily, the author has a good handle on viewpoint, and she keeps the focus on the main characters. The viewpoint rarely shifts during a scene, except during the love scenes.
Now for a nit-pick. Con’s business partner is referred to simply as McKeogh in the prologue and during Con’s last trip to Ireland. It takes a long time before we learn that McKeogh is a woman. This confusion didn’t add anything to the story.
If you like Irish folklore and can put up with limited interaction between the main characters, you’ll probably enjoy this novel. I would have liked it a lot more if Aisling hadn’t been so stubborn about the O’Haras. After treating her so gently when they made love, Con deserved better than to be spurned by her. Also, though the author obviously knows horses, the horse element wasn’t as strong as I had hoped. (If you want a horse story with a great twist, look for Doranna Durgin’s fantasy novel, Dun Lady’s Jess.)