Reviewed by Tori
LAPD consultant Sophia Ross is handed the opportunity of a lifetime when she comes to the UK to fulfill the terms of a will. Upon arriving, Sophia realizes that there is more at stake than a little breaking and entering. Sophia has landed right in the middle of an ongoing war between the Light and Dark Courts.
Nikolas Sevigny, a Daoine Sidhe knight of the Dark Court, has been in exile for centuries along with his fellow knights. Unable to return home to Lyonesse, he has been searching for a way to reunite his people in order to stop Isabeau, Queen of the Light Court, from destroying them all. He will use anyone and anything to win this war. Even at the expense of his own happiness.
Nikolas sees a way to get what he wants through Sophia though she refuses to be anyone’s pawn. As their animosity rises, so does their attraction to one another. When Isabeau unleashes her fiercest fighters to stop Nikolas and Sophia, they will have to set aside their differences and band together if they want to survive what is coming.
Moonshadow is the first in a new trilogy that spins off of Harrison’s best-selling Elder Races. Set in the UK, Harrison expands on the ongoing dark Fae demesnes storyline that has weaved itself in and out of the main series. Easily read as a standalone, new and long time fans will able to sink right into this new world and character influx with nary a bump.
I’ve been a huge fan of Harrison’s since she released Dragon Bound and introduced us to the Elder Races. This explosive series gave PNR a much needed shot in the arm with its fantastic world building, dynamic characterization, and an arc brimming with suspense, intrigue, humor, and plenty of sexy romance that has kept me enthralled ever since. I was pleased to see Harrison diving into the Fae demesnes and their long standing war. The clues and engaging bits of information she has dropped throughout the series hinted at an epic storyline well worth the wait. Unfortunately, I wasn’t all that impressed with this first installment.
The story opens with Sophia in America. She is doing a reading and in a vision, she finds herself face to face with an unknown, gorgeous man. She disrupts the vision and wonders how and why this man was able to see her and if this is an omen about her future.
Sophia Ross worked with the LAPD as a witch consultant until she was shot multiple times while on assignment. On an indefinite leave of absence and unsure what to do with her life, she meets with Dr. Kathryn Shaw and learns that she has been named in Dr. Shaw’s late father’s will. If she can gain entrance to the Shaw family mansion in the UK within in 90 days, she will own it, all of its possessions, and the land free and clear. Built as a monument of victory on a broken crossover passageway (a gateway between Earth and the other worlds) the family abandoned the home when ‘it’ stopped letting people enter. Sophia jumps at the chance to learn more about her origins and leaves immediately for the UK. Her arrival drops her into the middle of a war when she rescues an abused dog and meets Nikolas Sevigny.
Nikolas Sevigny is the leader of the Daoine Sidhe Knights of the Dark Court. Considered abominations because of their multiple bloodlines, the Queen of the Light Court has made it her mission to destroy them all. Trapped on Earth centuries ago when Queen Isabeau’s Captain of the Hounds, Morgan le Fae, destroyed their only way of getting home, Nikolas and his remaining knights have searched tirelessly to find a way home while avoiding death. When he scents a familiar fae he’s been looking for, the trail leads him to Sophia.
Tempers flare….wills clash…and a destiny awakens…
Moonshadow takes place in a relatively short span of time. It was hard to narrow down an exact time frame because of the time shifts between Earth and the other worlds. I estimate everything occurred in a two week span-give or take a few days. I found this short time frame didn’t allow for the storyline nor the romance to evolve as naturally as I expected. It was very rushed and forced in some places. The development occurs on a singular level, not allowing for any real depth or exploration. We are given the bare bones of the conflict at hand and the characters involved. This book essentially sets up the world and conflict, staying in the present and leaving me feeling there was so much missing. The flow was off , the pace uneven, and the narrative choppy.
The romance also wasn’t a sell for me. I adore the trope of antagonistic attraction, something Harrison excels at, but this is one time I felt it didn’t work. Sophia is very independent and self-sufficient. Nikolas’s autocratic behavior rubs her the wrong way and she reacts in a sarcastic and at times a juvenile manner. The brief background we learn about her does explain the basis of her nature but she goes overboard and by the end, I was exhausted by her.
I couldn’t see why this couple fell in love. From their first meeting to their final declaration of love, I felt they were more infatuated with one another than anything else due to being forced into a volatile situation and having to depend on one another. While I could understand the attraction; both are intelligent, loyal, hard working, and extremely self-sacrificing, there wasn’t enough time for them to get to know one another much less fall head over heels. Sophia repeatedly refers to Nikolas as an arsehole and snarks at him when she feels he is ordering her around. She claims to dislike him and initiates sex with no strings, then gets angry when he agrees and distances himself. Her insults are framed as foreplay.
Nikolas is not much though I understood his reasoning better. He is much older than Sophia and has been fighting one war or another for most of his life. He knows the dangers around them and while he tends to react with anger over Sophia’s actions, it’s out of concern for her well-being.
As always, Harrison writes some steamy, chemistry boosted, love scenes and while I enjoy them greatly, I will admit I am prejudiced against the word spurt. It’s a whimsical word that works well (in my opinion) in erotic and or comedic romances but felt very out of place in the seriousness of the storyline and characters.
A cast of interesting secondary characters are brought in to round out the story and I’m looking forward to seeing each shine in their predestined roles. Many new faces and some old ones make an appearance. We meet the other knights and the Puck (Robin) holds a strong place in the story. The most intriguing character to me was Morgan la Fae. Harrison hints a few times that there is more to him than what meets the eye and I’m interested in seeing how and even if she redeems him.
All in all Moonshadow was a disappointment when compared to the jewels I have read from Harrison. I’m hoping this is just an anomaly and the second book in this trilogy takes us back to her normally exceptional works.