FIVE COPIES of Touching the Moon by Lisa M. Airey
Print or Kindle format (winner’s choice- print open to US Shipping Only)
Romance novels are pretty easy to figure out. They follow a formula, some more specific than others but there, nonetheless – even for “non-romance” writers like Nicholas Sparks (Yes, that was a tongue-in-cheek comment.) So when I read romance, I recognize the flow and expect certain things to happen at specific points in the story. All romance readers know this. The key word is “expectation”.
I began reading TOUCHING THE MOON with the understanding it was a typical romance novel. To be clear, it is romance. Paranormal romance. But the story unfolds in such a way that it draws you in before you realize it with a plot and characters as large as Gone With The Wind.
My plan was to whisk through a couple of chapters while in the tub, finish my chores and then read a bit more at bedtime. After replenishing the hot water twice, I realized my fingers were wrinkled like prunes and forced myself to put the book down long enough to dry off and don pajamas. Chores were completely forgotten as I rushed to find my bookmarked page and continue reading. I did stop halfway through to brew a cup of tea but no bathroom breaks until I turned the final page.
TOUCHING THE MOON is that kind of book. It’s the story of Julie, an abused veterinarian, who starts life anew in a small South Dakota town. She is attracted to Dan, Chief of Police, and begins a comfortable friendship. She soon saves a feral wolf from a life threatening gunshot wound and wins the wolf’s favor. He protects her on long hikes through the wilderness, and even shows up at her door step for a quick handout. The one person she is terrified of is a dark, massively built Sioux named Gray.
I won’t go into spoilers other than the obvious that the wolf and Gray are one and the same. Ms. Airey breathes life into her characters with emotion, strong believable dialogue and challenging circumstances. TOUCHING THE MOON is lengthier than most books I read but moves at a snappy pace. The events merge into each other without “drag” time or excessive pages of back story and description. The novel is big on romance but very mild on sex. Hardly any heat at all, which I did not find to be a deterrent.
I rate this novel 4.5 stars only because of a minor complaint. I felt Julie’s actions and life experience read more like a YA character rather than a young woman who graduated from college as a Veterinarian. It’s hard to imagine someone maintaining innocence and naivete that long but maybe I’m just an old curmudgeon. Regardless, this is a good book and a must read for fans of the Twilight series, werewolf sagas or more full-bodied romance tales.
Touching the Moon
Lisa M. Airey
Publisher: Aakenbaaken & Kent, NY
Number of pages: 272
Word Count: 89K
Cover Artist: http://www.reese-winslow.com
A gifted healer with a genetic secret and a haunted past, Julie Hastings takes her new veterinary degree to South Dakota hoping to bury memories of a physically abusive stepfather and unprotective mother.
Although intending to lead a quiet life, she finds herself relentlessly pursued by two unwelcome suitors: the Chief of Police and a powerful member of the Sioux Indian Nation.
The man she chooses shatters her world-view.
Her stepfather taught her that not all monsters run on four legs. Now Julie must face another truth—some beasts are good.
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/-4drhhDLcSU
Julie Hastings has had a frightening encounter while hiking through the Black Hills. She was stalked by an unknown animal, then confronted by an aggressive Sioux at a bend in the trail. Fortunately, her pet wolf arrives to interrupt what would have been “trouble”. In this scene, Officer Dan Keating, love interest, is taking her statement at the police station.
“What did you hear, Julie?” he reached for her hands and held them firmly.
She shuddered. “An animal. It was furtive and four-legged. But big. And it was tracking me.” She shuddered again.
“Did you see it?”
“No, not even a shadow. Not even a glimpse. I couldn’t figure out what it was. It was heavy, but quick. I couldn’t make sense of it.”
“You said it was tracking you?”
“Yes, most definitely.” A little tremor wracked her. “It moved when I moved, stopped when I stopped, sped up when I did. I felt very threatened.”
“What did you do?”
“I decided to keep walking.”
“The animal in the brush?”
“How does Lync factor into all of this?” asked Dan.
She locked eyes and frowned. “I’m not sure that he does. I rounded a bend and there he was: Mr. GQ. Smug. Arrogant. Cocky. I tried to walk on by, but he fell into step.”
“Whoa. Whoa,” said Dan, his hand in the air. “You are being hunted by God-knows-what and you come across another person on the trail and you just…walk on by?”
“I tried to walk on by.”
He just looked at her.
“In my personal experience, two-legged animals have always been more dangerous than four-legged ones.”
“You thought Lync was a danger?”
“No. I wasn’t thinking at all at that point. I was only reacting. I had been frightened by the animal in the brush, but I was terrified of Lync.”
“What did Lync say to you?”
She turned away from him and took a shaky breath. “He asked me if I was afraid of the big bad wolf,” she whispered. Dan closed his eyes. “Then he grabbed my arm and wouldn’t let go.”
She held up her right wrist, black with bruising, then rubbed her forehead as if to erase the memory.
“What happened next?”
“Gray entered the clearing and Lync released me. I had been pulling so hard against him that when he let go, I fell flat on my back. When I got to my feet, I got to my feet rather violently and catapulted myself backwards into a tree trunk.” She hung her head. “I’m sure, I’m black and blue.”
“Can I look?”
“At your back?”
Julie searched his eyes, then nodded. She turned around. “The muscles in my back are very tender. It hurts to move my arms. You’ll have to lift my blouse yourself.”
She felt his hands upon her hips, then they slid under her top and ran along the small of her back. His touch was warm and calloused. He lifted her blouse slowly, tenderly running the pads of his fingers along the cuts, bruises and abrasions.
“Am I as battered as I feel?” she asked.
“Yes,” said Dan, his voice thick. He ran a thumb along her left shoulder blade and heard a soft groan.
He stepped into her and wrapped his arms protectively around her torso, his head on her shoulder, his right hand between her breasts. His breathing was deep and slow, as if he were trying to regulate it. He hugged her to him as if he could will the bruises away, take away her pain. She rotated in his arms and as she did so, his right hand slid inside her bra, his fingers cupping her left breast. They both froze.
“I didn’t do that on purpose,” he husked.
His thumb played gently across her breast.
“Are you going to exit?” she asked.
“I haven’t decided,” he said. “My hand is very happy where it is.”
She reversed rotation and turned round to face him, doing her best to tug her shirt down to her hips, pain and all. When she met his eyes, her cheeks were flush.
“That was wonderful, Julie. Could we do it again?”
She smiled and shook her head “no”. He lifted her chin and brushed his lips gently across hers, then he deepened the kiss and deepened it some more. “You are vulnerable tonight,” he said, his breathing heavy. “I won’t take advantage. But I want to.”
About the Author:
Lisa has worked in the wine industry for 20 years, the most recent eight in education with the Society of Wine Educators and the French Wine Society. In these roles, she has authored and/or edited wine study manuals and developed or expanded certification programs for the wine trade.
In her free-time, she writes fiction…naturally, with a glass of wine at the elbow.
She is a Maryland Master Gardener and puts that training into practice in her sizable vegetable garden. To assist her, she has recruited the services of a very helpful staff: two Chinese geese, two mini-Rex rabbits and 2,000 red wigglers (worms)…all of which are “master composters”. An adopted feral cat guards the perimeters and keeps the groundhogs at bay. She resides in Monkton, Maryland.