I found this book while researching werewolf series on a romance review blog. What drew me initially was the concept that this was set in the past, in historical Scotland. Some of the first romance books that I read were set in historical Scotland, so this seemed to be a perfect mix of old love and new
Moon Awakening begins as what you might think: an arranged marriage between an English female (Emily Hamilton) and a Scottish laird (Talorc Sinclair). Once she arrives at the castle she is shunned and she realizes that this clan will not accept her because she is an English outsider. On an outing she and Cait (sister of the laird) are out bathing and a neighboring clan laird kidnaps them. Her friend is taken for retribution and Emily gets herself to tag along because she fears for Cait’s safety. There seems to be chemistry between Emily and the Laird Lachlan Balmoral, but she is promised to another laird even if Laird Sinclair seems to not want her. On Lachlan’s side, he is Chretche and it is not wise to water down the bloodline (as can be seen by what happened with King Alpin. Can they fight this attraction before it’s too late?
As a reader, we understand pretty swiftly that there is a difference with these clans, that not only are they Highlanders, but they are Chretche and are more than human. We come to understand that they are shape shifters, in the form of the wolf. Only individual clans unite these people, but they follow the Scottish King, albeit reluctantly. In the past, when the King Keneth MacAlpin ascended the thrown, he considered himself also king of the Pict, A.K.A. Chretche (because he was part shifter). He was an example of how when a Chretche marries a human, there is a chance that they will not be able to shift or take all aspects of the animal. But despite this shortcoming, he became the Pict leader. Once King of Scotland, he arranged a meeting with Chretche leaders and murdered them all, thus there has been a line of distrust between Chretche and humans.
With this understanding of the background, we enter the story with an arranged married with a Chretche lord and an outsider female, Emily Hamilton. I would say that she is my favorite typical historical romance female. The sassy, but realistic female who speaks her mind and naïvely hopes for the best. She is what we all wish we had a piece of inside ourselves. Someone who is kind but fiercely devoted to our friends and family, willing to sacrifice for others. Her younger, deaf sister Abigail is to be sent to this harsh foreign environment and Emily pushes to take Abigail’s place, despite her own fears. Below a quote when she and Cait are kidnapped:
Although the cranky laird’s death would solve her own problems, Emily wasn’t tempted in the least to wish for it. First, because it would be a terrible sin, but second because it would hurt her dear friend.
While she starts off rather typically, there is an inner strength that I enjoy about this woman, who overcomes her fears. Some of the best entertainment of Moon Awakening is watching Emily figure out that these Highlanders are not merely human, but shape shifters.
First off, you can never go wrong with a big strong sexy Alpha werewolf with a Scottish accent. But he is not a typical brooding dark male that we might find as a werewolf. Lachlan is caring and has a sexy sense of humor. I love humor and I love a male character that, even if he is our Alpha male and studly, he can still find humor in life. As Lachlan and his men are in the process of kidnaping Emily and Cait she attempts to get away, which includes trying to bite him:
The horse beneath them started moving, and the warrior growled in her ear. “Stop trying to eat me, woman. I dinna think even the English infidels practiced cannibalism.”
I will say though, that he does have that typical male point of view that we can identify with any man in current times. Men and women are different, and apparently, even shape shifters cannot read a woman’s mind. I do like that he has to struggle to understand how Emily thinks and we have some fun watching as they bumble around. What I like about this character is that he’s human, not just a “perfect” man who can cook, clean, understand the workings of the female mind, and yet somehow still manages not to let the wife carry his balls in her purse. He’s a dude who does, well, dude-like things.
Other than the basic “love conquers all” theme that can be found through most romance books, there is the serious theme of self-sacrifice. Both of our main characters are driven by this self-sacrifice, by Emily in going in Abigail’s place, and in Lachlan as he refuses to follow his heart and be with Emily because she is human. How often have we had to make hard decisions that were better for others, but hurt ourselves? On the other hand, there are times that you cannot live just for what your family or society thinks you should do, but rather, you must follow your heart.
This is the first book of the series, so there is a great deal of backstory that has to be told, without making it feel like a dictionary of foreign terms. Ms. Monroe does an excellent job of keeping us informed and yet still engaged in the story. I enjoyed getting to know the secondary story, and it allowed us to better know our secondary characters. When I finished reading this book I instantly wanted to read the next book to see what happens further.
What could be better?
I struggled between a 3 and a 4 Star for this book. In some ways, I can tell that this is a first book both in genre and in storyline. It took two years later before the second book was published, so I can understand how this book was a departure from her norm initially. I find the second book even better than this one, and because I see the second book as so much more complex, I must give this one a 3-Star.
I do not want folks to think this is a bad series or book to read. It is a book that I re-read often. I think that the unique background and the dialogue between our characters make this a fun read. I personally love the second book the best and I look forward to reading many more in this series.