FicCentral received a free copy of this book from *the author*.
Publisher: Aakenbaaken & Kent on November 11, 2012
Genre(s): Paranormal Romance (Adult)
A gifted healer with a genetic secret and a haunted past, Julie Hastings takes her new veterinary degree to South Dakota hoping to bury memories of a physically abusive stepfather and un-protective mother.
Although intending to lead a quiet life, she finds herself relentlessly pursued by two unwelcome suitors: the Chief of Police and a powerful member of the Sioux Indian Nation.
The man she chooses shatters her world-view. Her stepfather taught her that not all monsters run on four legs. Now Julie must face another truth—some beasts are good.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
Julie Hastings doesn’t really know what lies ahead of her, but anything’s better than the life she’s running from. The more miles she puts between herself and the stepfather who used her as a punching bag while her mother turned a blind eye, the better. And nowhere, South Dakota, seems like a good enough place to start.
At once, she’s charmed by the town. The people there are kind and welcoming, her veterinary job is rewarding, and she’s managed to catch the eye of Dan Keating, the handsome police chief who talks her into a few dates. There’s even a wolf that seems to have adopted her, accompanying her on hikes and sometimes showing up at her front door, never posing a threat and always ready to protect her. Only her wolf isn’t there when a hike through the wilderness lands her in the path of Gray Walker, an imposing Sioux whose sheer size is enough to terrify her. And while Dan warns her away from him, Gray just keeps showing up, always there to lend a hand when she needs it most.
But the cozy little cottage house she’s renting isn’t the only stuff of fairy tales in the unassuming little town of Fallston.
It’s been a long, long time — years, in fact — since I voluntarily picked up a paranormal story of the wolf variety. Like vampires, the whole shape shifter thing seemed tired, too often used to add some flair of danger to an otherwise run of the mill romance, and I’d more or less given up on the whole subgenre. But for some reason that doesn’t even make sense to me, I kept looking at the cover of this one, thinking maybe, just maybe… So I stepped out of my hermit cave and contacted another human being. Crazy, I know. As for how that turned out…
Um…wow. Touching the Moon was nothing I expected and everything I wanted, if that makes any sense. And holy @#$%&*!, what a way to start the story! I love it when authors find a good way to draw me in immediately rather than put me through a long, detailed description of the character’s morning routine or whatever, but this one just might be the best opening scene I’ve read yet. Oh, but there’s more!
The character development is uncommonly complete. So many stories wrap the hero and heroine in a little bubble, with other characters haphazardly tossed around in the background for little more than comic relief or dramatic misunderstandings, but in Touching the Moon, we’re fully introduced to more than just the ones who will be riding off into the sunset together. From Julie’s coworkers to the guys in the band to the boys on the baseball team, there’s a full cast of characters that are anything but two dimensional. And while Julie may be unexpectedly caught in a bit of a love triangle, neither of her suitors is so ridiculously perfect that the choice is obvious, even to the reader
The romance is a slow, subtle build. Julie isn’t the most trusting of women, but her past abuse isn’t a crutch or an excuse she uses to be fickle. It’s mentioned, it’s clear it still affects her, and yet it doesn’t define her. Both Dan and Gray seem to be good men, either of which she could probably have a nice, long happily-ever-after with, but she takes her time, takes their feelings seriously, and just tries to move forward. The potential relationships with both men are so believable that I started wondering if I even had it figured out, and by the time she seemed to lean toward a one of them, I half-expected a plot twist to push her in the other direction.
What struck me most, though, is how well and fully the story is told. There’s no rush to explain every mystery too soon, no foreshadowing so heavily dealt that the conclusion is easily guessed. It’s clear that this author knows exactly how and when to deliver more. But while the other details and subplots could have easily become dull filler, they simply added to the charm of the entire tale. I was honestly surprised when I realized how far into the story I was, still absolutely hooked, and without a clue what was going to happen next. Even the paranormal aspect was more… well, it was just more. It was traditional and new at the same time, with a fresh and somewhat frightening adult aspect thrown in that I didn’t expect at all. And yet its delivery, like the rest of the story, was so perfectly timed that it surprised me just as much as it did Julie.
I could probably go on and on and on, but what’s the point in that? The story is a hell of a lot better than anything I can describe here, so you’ll just have to check it out for yourself. I was lucky enough to notice it on a book tour and even luckier that the author gifted the ebook to me to read since our schedule was too full to fit it in during the tour dates. But now that I know what’s behind that mysteriously simple cover, you can bet I’ll be lined up for the sequel.