Friday, 14 June 2013

Book Review: Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur

A rare hybrid of vampire and werewolf, Riley Jenson and her twin brother, Rhoan, work for Melbourne's Directorate of Other Races, an organisation created to police the supernatural races - and protect humans from their depredations. While Rhoan is an exalted guardian, aka assassin, Riley is merely an office worker - until her brother goes missing on one of his missions. The timing couldn't be worse. More werewolf than vampire, Riley is vulnerable to the moon heat, the weeklong period before the full moon, when her need to mate becomes all-consuming...

Luckily Riley has two willing partners to satisfy her every need. But she will have to control her urges if she's going to find her brother. For someone is doing some illegal cloning in an attempt to produce the ultimate warrior - by tapping into the genome of nonhumans like Rhoan. Now Riley knows just how dangerous the world is for her kind - and just how much it needs her.

For my Eclectic Reader challenge I needed to read an Urban Fantasy novel. Being new to this genre I wasn't sure which book to choose out of the vast number available, so I narrowed down my search to novels written by Australian women - that way I could satisfy my AWW2013 challenge at the same time. :-) That's when I came across Keri Arthur.

Arthur is an award-winning urban fantasy novelist and her Riley Jenson Series (of which Full Moon Rising is the first book) is widely popular. Starting the novel I could see why Arthur has a huge following - she is a great writer and the character of Riley is a strong and confident half-werewolf half-vampire who literally kicks some serious butt in the opening chapter. I liked how Arthur introduced her fantasy world and I enjoyed imagining Melbourne with the 'non-human' werewolves and vampires living amongst the regular humans. I was excited to see what adventures Riley would get up to as she searched for her missing twin brother Rhoan.

Unfortunately, after a promising beginning this novel went off on a path I wasn't expecting. Admittedly the book's description does talk about Riley's 'all-consuming moon fever', but I didn't expect erotica. I thought I was reading a fantasy novel based in an urban setting (one that might include a little sex) but not a steamy paranormal romance. I also have no experience reading paranormal romances, but I can easily spot the genre-defining clues when Riley starts to have sex three times a day! To me that's not really urban fantasy. Maybe I'm wrong, but regardless - I didn't get the book I was expecting when I chose it.

Riley is part werewolf so she is heavily influenced by the 'moon heat'. For a week leading up to the full moon all werewolves come under the fever that causes them to require an unlimited amount of sex. While I'm happy for Riley to have a couple of sexy partners who give her hours of pleasure, I couldn't help getting annoyed at the way Arthur uses this plot device to write scene after scene of sex marathons. It seemed ridiculous that Riley would be off having sex while her brother is missing!

I enjoy reading well-written sex scenes and while Arthur did a great job at developing Riley's intense feelings of desire, once the initial sex was over I thought it might feature once or twice more throughout the novel. But no. This was like reading Fifty Shades of Grey with werewolves! It became quite repetitive. Yes there is some suspense and a mystery of sorts to unravel in this novel, but with Arthur's narrative focussing so much on the 'burning fever' it was easy to forget about that side of things altogether. I found the suspense part of the plot lacked excitement and intrigue because Riley is so preoccupied with her moon heat, of which she seems to have no control over (it even gets her in to some morally questionable encounters that are too-easily glossed over when they are in fact quite serious topics). 

I don't deny Arthur's ability to create a complex fantasy world; she is a good writer. It's a well-paced and engaging narrative and I had no problem finishing the book. Fans of erotic paranormal romances will love this novel, but for me Full Moon Rising was not the urban adventure I was hoping for. I've realised that steamy paranormal romances aren't really my thing (I like to read erotica that is more realistic!), so I won't be reading any more of the Riley Jenson Series. 

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