Stephanie Julian - Kiss of Moonlight (Lucani Lovers, #1)

Kiss of Moonlight (Lucani Lovers, Book One) - Stephanie Julian

I honestly can’t believe I paid actual money for this. Even in the category of paranormal romance, which let’s be honest, doesn’t set a bar too high, this reached an unprecedented level of low.
It really rapes the main (and pretty much only) rule of romance novels – there has to be tension between the characters. We also have to get to know them first before they fall in love, so that we can believe it. The hero and heroine fall in love with each other right away, there is no suspense, no explanation, no build-up and we just have to take the narrator’s word for it. 

“No, this was a woman’s wet dream. Masculine and confident. Experienced. Shaggy black hair fell almost to his broad shoulders, the bangs brushing his perfectly straight nose and gorgeous, high cheekbones before he shoved them back. His square jaw had a covering of black stubble and his eyes were narrowed against the sun. She couldn’t see what color they were.”

She fell for him even before she learnt the colour of his eyes! Crazy! Everybody knows that in romance novels the most important characteristic of a person is their eye colour. The author remembers that, and won’t let us forget either. So in the first few pages we learn that Kyle’s eyes are the colour of topaz, his daughter Cat has aquamarine eyes and Tamra, the heroine has ice blue eyes (which sounds silly when you read it out loud).

“Kyle Rossini pulled his head out from under the hood of the ’68 Cougar and caught his daughter’s bright aquamarine gaze.”
“Cat rested her chin on a knee and stared at Tam with those beautiful aquamarine eyes.”
“[…]down to the aquamarine eyes brimming with compassion.”
“He was a beautiful animal, his black fur sleek and shiny, his eyes a bright topaz.”
“The dog cocked his head to the right and continued to stare at her, his beautiful topaz gaze never leaving hers.” – Kyle happens to be a werewolf, so sometimes he appears as a dog/wolf but his eyes are always bright topaz.
“Tam looked up, and up, at Kyle, and got caught in his topaz gaze.”
“Kyle walked out, those topaz eyes glowing.”
“Immediately, the sense of doom weighing on her lightened, just a little, as those topaz eyes bored into hers.”
“She wanted to ask what they meant but when her gaze met his, she got lost in that glittering topaz gaze, though his expression was set in stone.”
“Kyle stepped into her field of vision, those gorgeous topaz eyes laser-sharp on hers.”
“[…]running her fingers through her hair before she caught Kyle’s topaz gaze and frowned.”
“Kyle standing in the doorway, staring at her with those beautiful topaz eyes.”
“Her features were all contradictions—sharp cheekbones and a button nose, full mouth and up-tilted ice-blue eyes.”
“Now those pale blue eyes caught and held his.” – sometimes they were just ‘pale’
“Her ice-blue eyes warmed and her lips curved into a small smile.”
“Her ice-blue eyes burned and that heat called up his own.”
“Those ice-blue eyes proved his undoing. So straightforward, so blue with desire.”

I am normally willing to let bad writing slide in romance novels but the author did take it to another level. When she wasn’t writing about “those eyes”, she would abuse us with some truly horrible similes:

“Because he’d be damned if he hadn’t fallen for this little eteri. Hard and fast and at first sight. Like a fucking teenager with raging hormones. It felt like a kick in the ass. Like a punch to the gut and a shot in the heart.”
“[…] she shook her head at the sense of loneliness that hit like a brick in the chest.” – which is a feeling familiar to everyone especially people working at construction sites when you’re often get bricks thrown at you.”
“With lust still burning in her veins like lava, she had to agree.” – the author really liked that one, because mere fourteen pages later, here it is again:
“Rage flowed like lava through his veins.”

And there was some general bad writing taken from a fourteen-year-old diary:

“No, he made her hot. She wanted him. Which was just so freaking amazing.”

Whenever a character turned into a dog/wolf thing, they would mostly just ‘cock their heads’ side to side. The author must’ve not even reread what she’s written because there were other repetitions like this:
“And he was big, at least a hundred pounds.” And seven pages later:
“He was big for a wolf, almost a hundred pounds in this form.”

That’s just bloody disrespectful. I paid a full price for this, and the author hasn’t even done any basic editing of it. 

First the heroine knew the hero wanted her, here on page 37
“Didn’t he want to be left alone with her? She knew that was so far from the truth the second he caught and held her gaze. He tried to hide it. He really did but he couldn’t completely submerge the heat in his eyes.”

But on page 40 she already forgets:
“Besides the few smiles he’d given her, she had no idea how he felt about her.”

I guess, this was some very unsuccessful attempt at creating tension and uncertainty between the characters. But the romance is bland beyond salvation, so when it comes to badly written sex scenes we can only laugh:
“[…]she’d never given a man a blowjob before either. She didn’t want to do anything wrong. As if he’d read her mind, Kyle’s voice rasped out a harsh plea. “Will you suck me, baby? Please. I want your mouth on me.””
““Gods, Tam, you are so damn tight.” Her pussy tightened around him even further. “And you’re so hard. Kyle, please.””

I read the best bits to my boyfriend and let me tell you, it almost permanently ruined sex for us (mostly my fault because I like to quote).

Though it has to be said, the characters are very responsible and Kyle puts a condom on before every act (and there is a legion), which is duly noted by the narrator. Other than that, Kyle comes across as rather daft.

“He kissed her. He just didn’t expect to lose himself in the sensation of her lips against his.” 

And that's when they've had sex a billion times already! Yet, he still didn't know. Anytime he comes close to her the whole plot has to be suspended so they can get it on, yet at page 104 it still comes a surprise to the main character.

And here we come to the best part – the cursing! As Kyle is a hard-ass Etruscan werewolf he curses a lot. As Etruscans are originally from what’s today Italy, it fits that character should swear in Italian. Alas, the author only knows one Italian curse – vaffanculo – which is Italian for ‘go take it up your ass.’

“Vaffanculo. That was the last thing in the world he wanted.”
“Vaffanculo, what if this woman had been sent to find him?”
“Vaffanculo, he was almost forty.”
“Vaffanculo, he was a clueless bastard.”
“Vaffanculo, she was going to kill him.”
“Vaffanculo, he couldn’t decide whether he hoped Tivr and Nortia didn’t keep Cat out too long or if they kept her out all night.”
“Vaffanculo, she was going to give him a heart attack.”
“Vaffanculo. That’s scary.”
“Vaffanculo, she wasn’t wearing underwear.”
“Vaffanculo, he needed to get a grip.”
“Vaffanculo. That’s not… Shit, just forget I said that.”
“Vaffanculo. In his head, he heard mocking laughter and silently told himself to shut the fuck up.”
“Vaffanculo, have you finally lost your mind, old man?”
“This isn’t my call. Vaffanculo, Kyle.”
“Vaffanculo, he’d take it back if she’d just stop crying.”

To spice things up a little the author invented another swear-word: “Tinia’s teat”,God knows what this means, maybe something in Etruscan.

“Tinia’s teat, why did he feel as if he’d just agreed to surrender to the enemy?”
“Tinia’s teat, anything would be better than fucking Lassie.” – yes, no one would want to fuck Lassie, except for Snoopy. Snoopy might want to fuck Lassie.
“Tinia's teat, he looked like a hard-ass biker with the tattooed runes on his left arm and the muscles bulging.”
“Tinia’s teat, babe. You’re so fucking beautiful.”
“Tinia’s teat, she’d lost weight.”

I want my money back.