Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars conflicted, May 4, 2009
This review is from: Must Have Been The Moonlight (Donally Family Series) (Mass Market Paperback)
I loved the setting for Must Have Been the Moonlight - late 19th century Egypt. The opening scene particularly is riveting and full of promise. Brianna Donnolly and her sister-in-law Lady Alex from the previous book have been stranded in the desert for days after their caravan was attacked. They barely managed to escape with their lives, but are being pursued. Major Michael Fallon, who was supposed to meet up with the caravan, is on their tail, but for the women it's very uncertain whether he's friend or foe.

Must Have Been the Moonlight was kind of rough in places - the prose especially could do with some polishing, but still the characters managed to shine through and capture my attention. Brianna is strong and intelligent, and I ended up liking her a lot - she's a suffragist, a photographer, a philanthropist, and something of a troublemaker. Michael Fallon is your disreputable rake type, but I like that he really lives up to the vocation and can be very naughty indeed. He certainly doesn't harbor any noble intentions towards Brianna. But what I like best about the book, about their romance and these two characters, is that Brianna doesn't either. She wants an affair, and ends up having to be the one to do the pursuing. Her aversion towards marriage seems sincere, credible, and consistent with who she is, especially with her suffragist leanings. I was impressed that Brianna didn't end up seeming desperate in her continued pursuit of Michael. Even after they do the deed, and he has no intention of contacting her again, and she can't keep away, it's clear that she's the one being honest with herself and him. Michael wants her just as badly but holds back for various reasons. He finds himself unable to disentangle himself from Brianna as easily as he would have liked - and ends up wanting to keep her.

While I liked the characters well enough, and their romance, the action/adventure bits and the plot got tamer as the book progressed. Still, I love the initial setting and the way Thomas describes the landscape of Egypt - beautiful. When we move to England about half way through, though, and the book settles into the more conventional frame and events of a romance novel, I'm disappointed to say the least - especially when the mystery element of the plot kicks in full force. The rest of the book was ok, the mystery not the best. The change in setting made it seem conflicted, and the second half wasn't nearly as interesting as the first. I have to wonder at this fixation on England for romance settings. It's a big world out there. Romances should try and venture out into it once and a while, and not turn tail and scamper back to the mother country whenever a first tentative step is taken beyond its hallowed shores.
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