Shadow on the Moon
Shadow on the Moon is a romance that adds up, but never exceeds the sum of its parts. It contains many intriguing elements, such as an unwilling werewolf and an intrepid biologist, specializing in wolves. Still, even with the addition of a goofy sheriff and a string of gruesome murders, the book remains strangely flat.
Dana Gibbs is a biologist specializing in wolf behavior, who has been called to Arizona to investigate a string of deaths that may be wolf related. When her truck has an accident in a blizzard, she is rescued by the reclusive Morgan Wilder. He treats her wounds, but tries to keep her from leaving his cabin. Dana does not understand and feels threatened, not only by this, but also by the strange growly music Morgan plays alone in his room at night. Can she trust him or is he the danger than roams the night? Who is the aggressive Lily and her companion, and what do they all want with Dana?
Morgan made an arrogant mistake years ago and was transformed into a werewolf against his will. He has tried to resist the urge to carnage and strives escape the curse, but doing so requires the unconditional love of a woman. While thrilled at the possibilities Dana represents, he is still willing to forgo his salvation to ensure her safety.
Dana is torn between her rational, scientific training and the things she experiences around her. With her hardy Montana upbringing, she sees no problem in walking off into a snowstorm, regardless of the fact that there have been several dismembered bodies found in the area, and the culprit is still at large. Once she decides to trust and help Morgan, she moves heaven and earth to do so.
The intimacy between Morgan and Dana grows by leaps and bounds, with several setbacks. Morgan’s secrecy about his condition and his unwillingness to explain why he tries to keep Dana in the cabin cause Dana to make several escape attempts, which have the ultimate effect of revealing layer after layer of emotion. These two really take their time learning to communicate.
While I liked the outline and the setting a great deal, I had problems with this book – which is why I found it rather mediocre. The interaction between Morgan and Dana suffers from author-induced desires to run away from safety at the worst times possible. A member of the AAR Listserv termed this trait the Ripley effect, in honor of the heroine of the Science Fiction movie Alien and its sequels. After the third or fourth time either Morgan or Dana had run off, I was tapping my fingers with impatience for the bad things to be over with, so we all could get on with the romance. With a hero and heroine that predictable, I vote for letting the monsters have their little snack.
Also, the way people were turned into werewolves and back again was both weird and largely unexplained. Being rationally minded, I would have preferred a more scientific rationale, such as blood exchange, or else a mystical framework in which to place all the rituals. When Dana and Morgan finally got around to performing the required ritual, I still couldn’t make head or tail of it. The same thing applies to the structure of werewolf society, which had the same feel of a quickly put together backdrop for the great romance.
I’m afraid that Shadow on the Moon was only a so-so read for me. I like shapechanger stories and have a soft sport for heroines trying to redeem the unredeemable hero. Yet, those tapping fingers are a dead giveaway that there is a problem. For some reason, this book never came alive to me, which really is a pity. If you like cabin romances, and are unaware of the Ripley effect, it might transform in your hands.