HALF VAMPIRE. HALF WEREWOLF. ALL TROUBLE.
A horny heroine in heat uncovers a sinister conspiracy, in between all the sex she’s having.
Full Moon Rising
(Riley Jensen Guardian, Book 1)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 368 Pages
Date: 3rd February 2011 (First Published 2006)
Once you have been reading Urban Fantasy by female authors for long enough, you start to take for granted that there are certain constituents that you can reasonably expect to encounter each time you read a new title. For instance, the protagonist will invariably be an independent, kick-ass heroine who can beat the living daylights out of any man; without so much as breaking a sweat. She will be an annoyingly quirky personality, with a tendency to exhibit neurotic behaviour. And it is all but guaranteed that her love life/sex life will be an unnecessarily complicated mess.
Yes, it’s fair to say that urban fantasy literature has a penchant for being very predictable. So when originality is not the order of the day, it is essential that an author mitigates the predictability by not needlessly dragging things out. Ideally, the story should progress quickly and avoid losing momentum; as Keri Arthur successfully manages to accomplish with Full Moon Rising. Which is just as well because this first instalment of the Riley Jenson Guardian series is replete with all the expected urban fantasy tropes, and devoid of any genuine surprises or unexpected plot twists.
Despite the lack of originality, in terms of narrative and plot, Arthur has at least created a protagonist slightly more memorable than most you find in urban fantasy; one with an interesting back-story too. This “quirky, kick-ass” heroine, Riley Jenson, is a half werewolf, half vampire hybrid; an anomaly that should not exist in Arthur’s alternate reality Australia, where supernatural beings are a known and accepted presence within society. This mixed heritage has resulted in Riley inheriting both werewolf and vampire abilities; something that not even her twin brother Rhoan can claim, though both have had to live their lives concealing the “taint” of their vampire lineage, in order to pass as werewolves.
In every other respect, Riley Jenson, is much like most other female protagonists of the genre, especially when it comes to the obligatory complicated love/sex life shenanigans. For much of the book, Riley flits between three love interests; or more precisely, one love interest and two “fuck buddies” whom she uses for sex. Much to my surprise these two “mates” are actually integral to the book’s plot, and not just devices for Arthur to write several funny (to me at least) sex scenes.
When Riley is not engaged in gratuitous casual sex, she is an office worker for the Directorate of Other Races, the organisation charged with policing Australia’s supernatural population. The story begins on the night Riley learns that her brother, who also works for the Directorate, has gone missing. Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t be a major concern. Rhoan is a Guardian, a.k.a. judge, jury and executioner of supernatural criminals, so he is more than capable of looking after himself. But several other Guardians have disappeared in recent months; eight of whom were never seen or heard from again, while only bits and pieces of the other two have been recovered. Now Riley must race against the clock to ensure that her brother isn’t victim number eleven.
What starts out as a simple missing persons case quickly evolves into something a little more elaborate and engaging. With the assistance of an amnesiac vampire who saw her brother last, the search for Rhoan leads Riley to stumble upon a conspiracy to create hybrid super soldiers using DNA from various supernatural races. Riley resolves to get to the bottom of the conspiracy before it kills her; a task made more difficult by the “moon heat”, the week long period before the full moon when her werewolf libido goes into hyper-drive, and leaves her needing to have sex as often as possible. (Please don’t laugh.)
I am tempted to dismiss this book as being just a guilty pleasure to be enjoyed quickly then discarded. But I would be doing it and the author a little bit of a disservice. Sure, the plot is run-of-the-mill, and the characters are lacking in any kind of depth. But Full Moon Rising is an action packed, fast moving tale that rarely slows down to let you catch your breath. It does not keep you guessing as to what happens next by dragging out its few mysteries. The twists and turns are revealed swiftly as the story quickly progresses.
If you can get past Riley constantly reminding you just how horny she is, and how badly she needs to go to the nightclub for some hot sweaty sex; or how she can’t wait to meet up with the well endowed Talon for some hard and fast rough sex; or how she can’t wait to meet up with the sweet Misha for some slow and gentle sex; or how much she wants to have sex with Quinn the unwilling vampire, there is much to be enjoyed here. Perhaps enough to warrant reading the next instalment of the series.
It is not a must read book of the highest order, by any stretch of the imagination. But I would certainly recommend Full Moon Rising to readers who have previously enjoyed the works of Charlaine Harris, Karen Chance, Rachel Vincent and similar writers.
Telling it like it is. Giving you honest and balanced, spoiler free reviews. Completely devoid of irrational fanboyism, or shameless astroturfing.