Book review: Dancing in the Moonlight by RaeAnne Thayne (Harlequin Silhouette Special Edition, 2006)
Lieutenant Magdalena Cruz had come home … And though all she wanted was to be alone, infuriatingly handsome Dr. Jake Dalton—of the enemy Daltons—wouldn’t cooperate. And she needed him to, because the walls around her heart were dangerously close to crumbling every time he came near …
Jake had spent most of his life trying to get closer to Maggie, with little to show for it. But she was the woman he’d always wanted, and no injury in the world could change that. Now if only he could convince her that the woman who stood before him was beautiful, desirable, whole … and meant to be his …
As detailed above, Maggie Cruz has lost half a leg in Afghanistan, where she worked as a military nurse, and when she comes home she’s a mess. She’s in pain both physically and mentally – her fiancé dumped her because he couldn’t take her loss of limb (even though he was a surgeon, the hypocritical bastard), and to top it all off, the first person she meets is Jake Dalton. Great. His (late) father was not the nicest of people, and for various reasons Maggie blames him for her own father’s early demise. The Daltons are The Enemy. So why does Jake have to be so bloody nice and annoyingly handsome all the time?
There are many things I enjoyed about this novel. For starters, it feels well-researched when it comes to amputations and the ensuing recovery time (although I wouldn’t actually know), and the way the author switches between Maggie’s and Jake’s perspectives work very well.
It’s a tricky subject, because you don’t want it to be too soppy, even if it’s a romance novel, because it still has to be believable. RaeAnne Thayne does this very well. While I occasionally want to give Maggie a shake for being so pig-headed, at the same time I can understand her motivations for being that way. While Jake is a sweetheart who borders on being too good to be true … it’s still kept in check so there was no eye-rolling going on. Many a time I thought “oh yeah, here we go” and then no, it stayed on the right side of the fence.
Another tricky thing is when there’s a big misunderstanding between the hero and heroine preventing them from getting together. Sometimes you want to yell “FFS, just TALK to each other!” at them. This, I’m happy to report, didn’t have this problem. Sure, it would’ve probably helped if she piped up and said “I hate you because I blame your father for my father’s death”, to which he could’ve said, “yeah, my dad was a bit of a dick and we didn’t really get along as a result”. But they didn’t. And even if they had said that, it wouldn’t necessarily have helped.
In the review of the last Try Harlequin novel I read before this one, Homespun Bride, I wanted the hero to turn around at one point and just say “no, damn it, I’m not leaving!” but he never did. I very nearly burst out in a proper squee when the hero of this novel actually did. A cause for spontaneous applause. Like when Mark Darcy replies “oh yes, they fucking do!” to Bridget Jones’s comment about good boys not kissing like that, and you want to punch the air and cry out “YESSS!” – that’s how great that moment was!
This was a highly enjoyable novel with a feisty, independent heroine and a sweet, caring, sexy hero (who is a doctor, no less). Sure he’s so great you wonder if he’s for real, but even though guys like that are rare, they do exist. (I married one. 😊)
A good and solid 4 out of 5 daunting staircases and a ruddy good read.
At the time of writing, this book was available as a free PDF download from TryHarlequin.com