Maya Alexander is a best-selling author of action-adventure novels. After experiencing writer's block, she escapes to a cabin in a remote area of northern Arizona near the Navajo reservation. For the past several nights, Maya has felt like someone, or something, is watching her from the shadows and every morning she sees wolf tracks at the edge of the forest. Then one day, she is nearly attacked by a wolf, but is saved by a tough guy in army fatigues who reminds her of her annoying brothers.
Clay Phillips has been tracking a skinwalker who takes on the form of a wolf. Ever since his family was murdered by werewolves he has been hunting them down for a secret government agency. Clay knows the skinwalker is out to get Maya, and he is equally as determined to keep her safe. He just didn't expect to fall for the feisty, curvaceous beauty in the process.
Red Moon Rising is only the second paranormal story I've read that centers around Native American skinwalker legends which made it very interesting to me. Oddly enough, neither the hero nor the heroine is a supernatural creature, but instead are hunting and running from them respectively, which made it a unique read to the paranormal romance world. In my opinion though, this novella leans more toward urban fantasy than paranormal romance anyway. The combination of the heroine's first-person narration and the edgier tone, along with some dry, black humor seems more consistent with urban fantasy, even though the story is almost entirely set in a rural area.
Both the hero and heroine seemed more cerebral than emotional to me which made it a little difficult to connect with them. Maya is a best-selling author of action-adventure novels who is experiencing writer's block. She moved to the wilds of northern Arizona for some peace and quiet and to try to get in touch with her muse, but finds herself being stalked by a skinwalker. Maya was never an adventure type girl until she finds herself virtually kidnapped by Clay and running for her life. I have to give her credit though for being brave and toughing it out. In the end, I guess she was a kick-butt heroine. Clay is part of a secret government organization that hunts down supernatural creatures. He's been searching for the skinwalker who is after Maya, and when Clay finally finds him, they nearly get blown to smithereens not once but twice. Clay is an uber-alpha hero who doesn't have much of a softer side to speak of. I suppose in his defense, he had lost everyone he ever cared about to the creatures of the night. As a result, he had dedicated his life to hunting them, yet even when he spoke of the past he seemed more like a hardened warrior who had shut down all of his emotions than the vulnerable man I would have preferred.
Red Moon Rising was my first read by Lori Handeland, and based on this experience, I'd say that her writing itself is pretty solid. From an action-adventure perspective, the story was good, and I generally enjoyed that part, however, the romance, in my opinion, was rather weak. The story takes place over a mere two days time, and I'm afraid I just couldn't buy the idea of Maya and Clay falling in love and wanting to make a lifetime commitment in that short of a time. I didn't really feel any chemistry between them, and the love scenes happened far too quickly for my taste. There was very little tension leading up to them, and to me, the scenes themselves felt like virtually emotionless casual sex. If I didn't know any better, I'd think a man had written them. Overall, Red Moon Rising was a decent novella. I just didn't connect with the story or characters in the way I would have liked.
Red Moon Rising is part of Lori Handeland's Nightcreature series. It falls between Blue Moon and Hunter's Moon, the first and second full-length novels of the series. Normally, I don't read series books out of order, but I can't say that I was particularly drawn to this series and decided to take a chance in order to finish the Stroke of Midnight anthology in which it is found. Perhaps reading the first book might have enhanced my knowledge of the mythology and the world that Ms. Handeland has created, but I never felt lost at any point. After doing some research, I don't believe there are any carryover characters either, so I think readers should be fine with treating it as a stand-alone story. However, there is one thread that is left hanging at the end of the novella, which I suspect may be resolved in future books and might tempt readers to continue with the series. Even with that in mind, I can't say that I'm any more eager to read on than I was before starting Red Moon Rising, but I might give the author another try at some point.
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