Reviewed: September 16, 2009
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Riley Jensen, Guardian, Book 1
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 372 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Disclosure: This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Riley Jensen is a half-werewolf, half-vampire dhampir with a love of her wolf heritage and overall contempt for most vampires. She's a liaison for Melbourne's Directorate of Other Races - an aussie equivalent of the FBI for supernaturals. When a naked vampire turns up in the doorway of the apartment Riley shares with her fraternal twin brother, Rhoan, her life takes a turn from office worker and ramped up party girl werewolf to reluctant...very, very reluctant guardian. But she swears any work even resembling that of a guardian is only to find her brother - a guardian who's gone missing on an assignment - and then to uncover the reasons behind the attempts on her life and on the undead life of the no-longer-naked vampire Quinn, and the mysterious behavior of at first one, then both of her usual mates, Talon and Misha.
At times muddy and plodding, at other times frenetic and confused, Full Moon Rising is a book with flaws. There's a lot going on and the plot more than occasionally gets overwhelmed by the timing of the story. It takes place (unfortunately) during the seven days preceding the full moon, making Riley - the protagonist and narrator - a walking hormone who is genetically obligated to make like a bunny almost continuously until the full moon rises and releases her from the nearly relentless heat cycle.
I could deal with the breadth of her sexual needs, but where I stumbled was in the author's choice to set up those needs as being completely out of a werewolf's control. Given the timing of the badness going down in Full Moon Rising, there are several instances where Riley is left at the complete mercy of her lust, even when the males she's mating with are threatening her life and freedom. That's a little too close to being helpless against sexual assault for my tastes, and it put me off those parts of the book. Not to mention...it seems a little odd that the survival instinct wouldn't supersede sexual arousal, especially in a predatory species. So odd, in fact, it made the story seem discordant in those spots.
That being said, there's potential here. Riley is a competent, intelligent protagonist who stands on her own two feet (or four paws) and doesn't walk around waiting for a male to save her. She's a bit saucy and a bit wicked and she tends to get into trouble...I sure wouldn't let her drive my car...but when she isn't lost to lust, she's a solid heroine. Quinn, the ubersexy and ultra-rich vamp, is probably the most layered and complex character, and I sincerely hope to see more of him in future books. There's a solid group of secondary characters - Riley's vampire boss (Jack) and one of Rhoan's mates (Liander) in particular - who are interesting and sympathetic with a lot of development potential, and the bad guys are really repugnant. The plot itself is interesting, and while there are a lot of twists and turns that clutter it up a little, the ideas are intriguing. I'll be trying the next book to see if the potential is further realized. 3.5 Stars for Riley's first adventure.
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