Historical romances have always been and will always be my first love thanks to the talents of Laura Kinsale and Judith Ivory. This month’s theme was to pick a story that featured a tortured hero or heroine.
Well, I decided to forgo that theme and instead, picked a story that featured a dark hero and highwayman who targets the wealthy ariosto’s who dare tread the deserted parish roads late at night. This is no Robin Hood story here but more or less a game of risk, survival and true love.
In, “Pale Moon Rider,” the story is set during a time of strife where England is currently at war with France. The French Revolution is also underway amid the threat of Napoleon’s successful invasion of Italy. Like many of the nobility in France, the heroine, Renee d’Anton has fled from the Terror with her brother, Antoine, and their manservant, Finn, to England. They end up seeking refuge in the home of her uncle, Lord Paxton, who is a prominent member of Parliament and a blackguard. He along with two other men have been profiting from aristos who have managed to get their fortunes out of France but who were themselves unsuccessful in escaping Robespierre.
Lord Paxton has arranged for Renee to marry a commoner to alleviate himself of the burden of his unexpected house guests. The impending nuptials thrust Renee into a dilemma. She seeks out the elusive Captain Starlight in the hopes of getting him to steal some very expensive rubies for her. The goal is to sell the rubies and take the money and run. The problem is that she is being blackmailed by Colonel Bernard Roth, an ambitious man looking to make a name for himself in capturing the elusive highwayman. The warrant over her brother’s head for attempted murder gives Renee no choice but to cooperate and help trap a thief who has eluded Roth’s militia for the past four months.
Tyrone Hart aka “Captain Starlight” has made a fool out of Roth with his remaining at large. Roth assigned himself to the Coventry for the sole purpose of capturing Tyrone. The two men enjoy a game of cat and mouse which dissolves into a personal dispute between the two men. Roth does not know of the dual identities of his quarry. Doesn’t even realize that the man he has been searching for relentlessly has been under his nose all along. Renee’s involvement is questionable at the start but as the story progresses her role becomes clear on which side her loyalties lie or defaulted to in the end. And really, that shouldn’t be a surprise since this is a romance after all. I did appreciate that she didn’t swing back and forth with her loyalties, however. With that said, I will not elaborate further on the plot.
So, how did I enjoy Pale Moon Rider? I liked the story but it was somewhat wordy. Too many details for inane stuff (or at least to me). I liked Tyrone but his character was predictable. No surprises in here, really and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. One big plus is that the author’s historical setting wasn’t wall paper. The French revolution played a significant role in the story and I liked the political suspense in here, too. That stuff never bores me. The author seemed well versed in her history.
I also liked that the hero’s motive behind his being a thief wasn’t due to some major childhood trauma or that he was driven by some need for revenge. He enjoyed stealing from the rich but did leave the common folk alone. The villains were smart and the plotting was tight and somewhat complex. The story moved at a pretty decent pace.
The romance which is at the heart of the story was nice but didn’t really captivate me or live up to expectations. Despite my lack of enthrallment, the romance was decent. I’m not a big fan of sex scenes that are overly long so I did skim the few that were in here. Just as an aside, sex scenes more than a paragraph in length bore me and that usually starts me to skimming.
Pluses for me: complex plot, nice pacing, plenty of h/h interaction along with excellent characterization. Negatives: wordiness, overly long sex scenes and predictability. My grade, B. I could and did put this book down and forget about it. In fact, I was quite anxious to be rid of it so that I could read something else. So, it’s a low B-/C+ for me.
Please make sure to visit the other participants who have posted reviews for this month’s TBR Challenge.