Customer Reviews: Hunter's Moon
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4.4 out of 5 stars51
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on January 6, 2003
Will Lyman, an agent with the FBI, has been sent to Kentucky to investigate some questionable winnings at the horse tracks. Just when he believes he is tying up the case as they watch for the criminal to pick up their $5,000 bait money, a beautiful woman appears in the barn, looks into the sack that contains the money, and then picks it up and walks off. Will is close to speechless. How could such an easy assignment go so wrong and who was that woman?
Molly Ballard has just quit her job as groomer at the Kentucky stable and has come to pick up her final check. She accidentally finds the bait money and on a whim - takes it! She is beside herself with worry but is totally broke and she is responsible for the care of her four younger siblings. She is sure that no one saw her take the money and figures it is money that was earned illegally anyway. Within hours, a gorgeous man in a distinguished suit appears at her door sporting a FBI bag and a tape of her taking the bait money.
Will Lyman takes in the young lady's surroundings and determines that she is probably just plain desperate. She lives in a very run down home and is barely surviving financially as she takes care of her two brothers and two sisters. He decides to let her off the hook and not charge her with theft. Then he discovers that his informant has died and returns to asks (really demands) Molly to participate in the sting operation. To enable easy communication during the sting, Will acts the role of her boyfriend.
This was a really good, enjoyable story. Karen Robards can write some good male leads and I believe Will Lyman is one of her best yet. You just like being around this guy. It was a stretch for me to accept that he is fifteen years older than Molly. He has an eighteen-year-old son and it doesn't seem to fit with his other personality traits that he would be attracted to someone so much younger than himself. Molly is supposed to be a really kind person but she treats others with disdain more than kindness. She is protective and loving towards her siblings under her care but she is also quite prickly.
Eventually Will and Molly develop an attraction to each other that neither has pursued but cannot ignore. He is pure sophistication, from Chicago, and apparently lives the good life. Molly has only a high school education, is actually poor, and has never had any real advantages in her life. She has not been exposed to many refinements but is basically a good, hard working person. Her prickly nature is due to many hardships as she grew up.
I was engrossed in this story until half way through the book. Robards had managed to write a fresh story that was interesting on every page. Then, without warning, the author introduces one of the most overused, maddening romance novel plot lines. I just had to put the book down for a while. I felt betrayed. Molly discovers that she loves Will and realizes that there is no future for them. She decides the best way to handle her newly found feelings is to treat him with hate. She kicks into high hateful gear, treating Will with a huge amount of disdain when he has done nothing wrong, and doesn't speak to him unless it is with meanness. This "I love you so I must treat you as I hate you" is one of my least favorite things about romance writing. Fortunately, Will does not accept this treatment from her and ignores her. He has recognized her game and will not play into it. This contrived misunderstanding is the turning point of the book. Although I did not appreciate this particular turn of events, I kept reading and, with relief, found this situation did not drag on for long. This is the reason for a four star rating rather than a five star.
The story is actually very tender. There are only a couple of sensual scenes and they rate no more than a three out of five (see More About Me for rating guidelines). The story does not need any more sensual pages - it is just right for the framework of the book.
Although the heroine stretches the limits of realism more than once, it is a book that I would read again some day. After all, romance writing is not very realistic. How could we depend on those happy endings if it were not? It is a pleasurable read with some degree of depth. I could actually read two more books with this hero starting today!
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VINE VOICEon November 7, 2002
This is a fun book for me to read ~~ I think I found it at a library booksale and it was a quick and fun read. It is a mystery/romance novel ~~ the first Robards book I have ever read.
Molly Ballard, working as a groomer at a Kentucky stable while raising her younger brothers and sisters, runs into trouble with the law when she spirits away $5,000 that the FBI had planted in one of the barns. She was planning to use the money to feed her brothers and sisters, but FBI agent Will Lyman thought otherwise. Once he realized that she was speaking the truth, he decided to use Molly as an insider to investigate a race-horsing fixing scheme. Only Lyman got more than he bargained for ~~ not only was he focusing on the race-horsing fixing scheme, there were horse mulitations happening, a unsolved murder case, and a suicide in the peaceful Kentucky countryside. And falling in love with Molly ~~ it all provides entertainment and mystery throughout the book.
I would have given this book a 5 if it weren't for some explicit sex scenes in the book ~~ I am one of the readers who likes to be teased, not told of every sexual act in the story. Must be the midwestern in me. Other than that, this book provides great entertainment for me ~~ a fast read, which is something I need around here in a house full of happenings and it's fun to read as well.
If I run across Robards' other books, I'll be sure to pick them up since I enjoyed this book. She is a new author for me to explore and this book is hard to put down. I don't regret picking this one up at all.
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on August 13, 2015
Another great romantic/thriller by Karen Robards, combined with suspense, pure excitement, murder, in which draws you right into the world of horseracing. It's another must read!..............After quiting her job at Wyland Farm, due to being manhandled by the owner's son, Molly Ballard, soon realized she may have made a huge mistake. Being the sole supporter of her brothers' and sisters', plus being dirt poor, didn't help reduce the panic she was feeling deep inside, but when she strolled into the barn to feed the little burrow she loved dearly, the last thing she ever expected to see in the feedbag was a satchel containing five- thousand dollars in hard cold cash. FBI Agent Will Lyman, couldn't believe his eyes or his bad luck. Angry at him for crashing his van, Will knew, without a doubt, that this was payback from his boss, Dave Hallum, by removing Will from his home state and windy city of Chicago, to send him to this God-forsaken country known as Kentucky, to be assigned on a long and tedious stake-out, by information supplied by a snitch, to draw out the person, or persons, supplying the "ringers", and fixing the races. What Will never expected, however, was to see one of the most beautiful women he ever laid eyes on to take the money, FBI money, no less! What was she doing there anyway at 3:30 in the morning? Unless, she was a part of it? Regardless, he was going to find out who she was, where to find her, and get that money back, and threatened her for dear life. When Molly is first confronted with Will, she finds him rude, obnoxious, and downright intimidating, and reluctantly lies to him, but when Will shows her a video, of her taking the money, she has no choice, but to give it back to him, hoping never to see him again. When Will learns that the snitch that the FBI counted on for so long, has commited suicide, prolonging the investigation even further, he is not only angry, but it means he'll have to remain in Kentucky even longer than he counted on. Within hours of his last visit, Molly is stunned to see Will Lyman at her door again, but nothing will prepare her when he confesses his true reason for seeing her, and he gives her no choice, when he tells her, she has just become his brand new snitch, telling her she can keep the money for her services or go to jail. As Molly accepts his ultimatum, she is also scared of getting caught, but feels she and her siblings needs the money desperately. As time runs into days, even weeks, Will and Molly give in to the overwhelming chemistry between them, and they wind up in a heated love affair, causing Molly to question her own insecurities, even though, she has fallen hard for the sexy agent. Confused, Will realizes, that he not only crossed the line, but he too has deep feelings for this beautiful woman, a reasoning he can't even admit to himself. When murders begin to happen, plus a madman known as the "horse slasher", including Molly's disappearence by a deranged killer, Will discovers, not only the killer's true identity, but the knowledge of a serial killer in their very midst. With his heart and soul directed at one person, Will prays as the seconds go by, that he can find the killer's lair, put down an evil monster, and finding a special person alive, if it's the last thing he ever does, for the rest of his life!..............great thrillrr by Ms. Robards................thank you........♡♡
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on December 8, 2013
Love that this is set in Kentucky and with the right reverence for the state. Kentucky is one of the most beautiful places on earth. That being said, I hate to think it is the setting for so gruesome a story. The love story within and the story about the family was touching. Overall fantastic job by a fellow kentuckian
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on July 14, 1999
I must say that this novel ranks as high as Walking After Midnight. I find myself reading it again and again. I fell in love with Will, the hard-nosed, nothing but business, FBI agent. Though he tries not to become emotionally involved with Molly Ballard, he can't resist her . This is a must read for all KR fans.
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on July 18, 2012
This is a keeper I've reread for years, one written when Karen Robards was at the height of her ability to intertwine a suspense plot with a sizzling romance.

Will Lyman, a special agent for the FBI, finds himself fighting a powerful and inconvenient attraction to young, poverty-stricken Molly Ballard, whom he has coerced into working undercover to help him crack a case of horse-racing fraud in a sleepy town in the bluegrass region of Kentucky. Detailed from Chicago, Will is a fish out of water in the rural South, and Molly, caught on camera committing an impulsive crime in a weak moment, has no choice but to pose as his unlikely girlfriend. Despite the negative first impression, Molly works hard as a groom on a horse farm, and is the dedicated, sole support of her four younger, motherless siblings. Defensive, prickly, suspicious, and, though no fool, somewhat reckless, she is also strongly attracted to Will; both are determined to hold the upper hand in the situation and in their fiery, alternately antagonistic and tender relationship. As Will becomes more and more involved with her and her family, Molly fears the inevitable heartbreak of a temporary romance; Will tells himself he only wants to enjoy the benefits of a short-term sexual relationship. Will's return to Chicago leaves them both on their high horses (pun intended), yet unable to move on.

As you might suspect, the horse-racing case is the MacGuffin of the story. An old unsolved crime, a recent murder, and a series of animal tortures resurface and quickly escalate to the unthinkable, and Molly turns to Will for help. The plot twists and turns, and suspense mounts to a fever pitch as Will races to solve an ugly case that could shatter their lives and the entire community. This is a rare suspenseful romance that actually surprised me at its conclusion.

It's quite a feat to build and maintain a superheated romance in the grisly atmosphere of this story, but Robards succeeds. Despite differences in age, background, and temperament, Will and Molly seem made for each other; the reader believes. They're real characters with real flaws.

However, I do have a few caveats about this book. Despite the wonderful romance and the gripping suspense, there are some portions of the book that are told from the point of view of a murderer; I found these disturbing, and I have to admit I skimmed over most of them. For readers in the Nightmare on Elm Street generation, they are child's play, I'm sure. For those who were shocked by Psycho as a child, it's a different story (more puns intended). Also a climactic scene between Will and Molly seems contrived. On the whole, however, their soul-stirring romance carries the day; there may not be enough crime procedure for mystery fans, but there's romance and suspense aplenty for the rest of us. A supreme page-turner.
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VINE VOICEon October 23, 2014
Sometimes historical romance authors don't make the transition from Regency to modern day in a seamless fashion, but Karen Robards does beautifully in her thriller Hunter's Moon. This is hands down her best story.

Set in the horse country of Kentucky, heroine Molly Ballard is a poor working girl who is responsible for her four younger brothers and sisters. She is young only in her mid-twenties and she feels the burden of raising her younger siblings keenly with little money. So when she finds a sackful of money in the horse barn she absconds with it hoping the five thousand dollars inside can help the Ballards keep afloat for a while.

Will Lyman is a straight shooter, an FBI agent who is assigned to investigate some horse racing shenanigans and he is stunned to see Molly take the bait money they have planted. When he confronts her, Molly is surly, scared and defensive.

Will sees Molly, at first, as the perfect insider to assist him in his investigation and since Molly has little choice in the matter, she agrees albeit reluctantly. At first this couple is truly at odds with each other. Molly hides her embarrassment and uncertainty (she feels their class differences greatly) behind a smart mouth and this could have become frustrating for the reader except Will, does not jump to the bait. He's smarter than that. As a widower and being fifteen years older than Molly, he has enough life experience to recognize that responding to her anger will not solve their problems.

Willis an incredible hero, I liked him more than the heroine although her spunky nature is well written. He is calm, self-assured and kind. He doesn't play games and he is a generous person, demonstrated in his interactions with each member of Molly's family.

This novel has a very well knit plot and the tension is great throughout the novel, no lags in action and the dialogue is superb. This is a great couple who falls in love despite their many differences.
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on June 17, 2015
This book was great. The heroine was believable and you could relate to her feelings. The part I didn't like was that Will was so much older than Molly. Their attraction at times did not make sense.
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on September 17, 2014
Hunter's Moon by Karen Robards
Molly has gotten herself fired from the grooming job. It was the only job she had and she needed it to pay the bills and feed the other children that she cares for.
She finds a large sum of money in a different feedbag at the stables and takes it-she really needs it. Problem is the FBI man, Will show up and they not only want it back but they need her to get her job back and spy for them, along with their surveillance cameras.
Love all the talk of the horses and their attributes and care. There are more mysteries and things really heat up, not only her gathering clues for Will about the horse controversy but their pretending to be sweethearts.
Animals getting hurt and child kidnapping really make this a fast paced action story that is easy to follow. Adult sex scenes added to this story.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).
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on July 16, 1999
Great suspence, great romance, great characters, great plot and great love scenes to boot. I've read a lot of Robards most recent contemporaries and this is definitely a standout. In fact the only one I've kept it on my shelf for years and would never think of trading it away or donating to the neighborhood library book sale. Wonderful!!!!
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