Saturday, September 20, 2014

Dragon Moon by Nulli Para Ora

A business trip to China. A fight for their lives. Will Angelique and David become pawns in a werewolf war or does fate have something else in store?

David Johnson and Angelique Meadows are colleagues on a business trip to China. They’ve worked together for years, but neither has been able to admit their true feelings for the other. This business trip represents a landmark deal in their careers and an opportunity to reveal the truth of their hearts. Just as love blooms, disaster strikes.

The man they’re meeting with is Yuen Gao, CEO of a multi-million dollar company. The world sees him as a successful businessman. His pack sees him as their Alpha. Rogues, secret experiments, and the undeniable pull of his mate force him to reveal his secret. Is his love strong enough to overcome the pain of loss?

Hearts unite and break as trusted friends become enemies behind the scenes. Love longed for is lost to be replaced by a bond deeper than words. Loyalties are tested as ghosts of the past step into the present.

Can true love survive when forbidden hearts are reconnected?

Where to Buy

I wish I had read this one earlier for several reasons, primarily because then I wouldn't have had all of the author's later work to compare it to. To put it a bit bluntly, her later work is much better than this book in my opinion. Such is to be expected, however, when comparing a good author's later works to her freshman novel -- the freshman work will generally suffer by comparison. Still, this book is not without it's merits, for it is full of strong characters, intriguing plot ideas, and shows that even in this early book the author already had her characteristic knack for shining a revealing light on difficult social and relationship issues. She doesn't shy away from examining the harsher and more painful issues that often arise in complicated relationships, but pays due homage to them reminds us that love means accepting the bad along with the good and that building a strong relationship takes work and dedication. Love and biological imperatives like a werewolf's mate bond are not necessarily enough to make a relationship work.

Angelique is a strong, self-assured business woman on the verge of sealing the greatest business deal of her career. Thusfar in her relatively young life she has focused on building that career and hasn't taken much, if any, time out for love or the forming of other relationships outside of work. She has finally reached a point where she's ready to expand her horizons and acknowledge the feelings she's long had for her co-worker David. Then disaster strikes, ushering in the darkest period of her life which also proves to be a period of growth and self-discovery as she comes to learn her true capacity for love and for leading, both in business and in other matters. She transitions from being highly career-focused to being much more family-oriented, yet at the same time finds ways to strike a happy medium between the two and to apply her skills in new ways. It's hard not to admire the woman she becomes.

Gao is every bit the alpha male, yet at the same time he displays a startling amount of sensitivity that isn't usually seen in alpha males in romance. Instead of the typical domineering "alpha-hole" type usually seen in romance novels, Gao truly takes the idea of doing what is best for his mate, Angelique, to heart, even when that includes denying his own desires to give her time and space to come to terms with the major changes in her life. He never tries to force her into anything and lets her find her own way to him and to adjust to the changes in her own time and manner. This makes him both a very refreshing and somewhat puzzling character, for his empathy and sensitivity to her needs often makes him seem a bit soft, certainly much softer than most readers of shifter romances are accustomed to in an alpha. It's not necessarily a bad thing, though, and it adds depth to his character and makes him more relateable.

Overall I found the story to be quite enjoyable, and the twists and turns it took kept it interesting for you were never quite sure what was going to happen next. At the same time, I felt that it got a bit lost in places with the story wandering around a bit too much and losing focus from time to time. It never drifts too far off course to the point it would just have been confusing, but it does seem to belabor some points a bit much or to spend time on details that are ultimately largely irrelevant. It could have benefited from a bit more tightening for the wanderings and loss of focus were enough to detract from my enjoyment to the point I just couldn't give this one as high of a rating as I would have liked to based on its many merits.

Fans of shifter romances will almost certainly enjoy this one, though be prepared for a slightly different dynamic with the werewolves than you might be used to from other authors. As a first novel it's definitely better than some I've read, and displays the author's natural talent well. Based on the characters and story I could easily have given this one a solid 4 stars or higher if it was up to the standards she sets in her later works, but as it is the freshman flaws it exhibits keep it at a 3½ star rating for me.

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