Sunday, May 31, 2009
Kenzie Gregor purchases a series of islands off the coast of Maine to set up an animal sanctuary, only to find a very tempting obstacle in his way: Eve Anderson, who lives with her elderly mother on the main island. Since she has no place else to go, Kenzie allows Eve to stay in exchange for her help -- and just maybe because she's so brave for such an adorable wee lass.
Eve swore off men after her husband ran away with another woman, and she's not the least bit interested in Kenzie, even though her mother and everyone else in town in trying to push her into his strong, capable arms. After all, she's perfectly capable of taking care of herself, her mother, and their failing woodstove business all by herself; she doesn't need some rich, gorgeous knight to come save her. Besides, she doesn't trust him: strange things have begun to happen at night since Kenzie's arrival, and she's sure he's involved somehow...
I'm a sucker for Janet Chapman's Pine Creek series, about a group of displaced highlanders from the 11th century that time travel forward and live in the mountains of Maine in present day running a ski resort. This book is a continuation of that series, only it takes place on the coast of Maine, Midnight Bay. This book centers on Kenzie, a tall, dark and handsome Scottish highlander who was once a panther who now, with Father Daar (from the Pine Creek books) has gone to set up a haven for other cursed animals that are really human. Kenzie's raison d'etre is to help them become human again by breaking whatever curse it was that made them become animals in the first place.
His current case is William who is a man that "believes" he is a dragon. Can Kenzie help William become a man again by showing love for someone more than himself and break the curse that was put on him 1000 years ago by a vengeful witch? Meanwhile, Kenzie finds love himself in the shape of Eve Anderson, a newly divorced and jaded young women that is facing near bankruptcy, eviction and the worries of seeing her mother slowly succumb to dementia in her later years. I really enjoyed this book and it was good to see some of the old characters from the last series, although, since I haven't finished that series yet, I was clued in to what happens in it, but not to the point where it was spoiled for me. If anything, it just whet my appetite to finish the Pine Creek series and read about what happens in the last two books of it!
I really liked Kenzie. Gorgeous, strong, capable, a highland warrior from his own medieval time, he's been human for six months after roaming Tar Mountain with the McKeague's as a black panther. It's been aeons since he's had a woman too, so once he sees petite, blonde Eve Anderson he is smitten. Luckily, she is in need of a knight in shining armor to help her with all her woes, but she's the last one to admit it. Kenzie immediately befriends her mother, Mabel, and as it turns out he has (unknowingly) bought the farmhouse they're being evicted from. Wanting to help, he asks them to stay on at the farm as his housekeepers while he camps out under the stars taking care of William (the dragon) and fighting off unatural lightning storms from the evil witch that wants to kill him for rescuing William. It sounds a bit complicated, but it's really not. The main gist of the story is, how can Kenzie get Eve to warm up enough to him so that he can court her in the traditional way, and at the same time keep her and her mother safe while battling supernatural forces and not revealing that he was once a panther for six months and has a dragon hiding out in the woods?
If anyone can do it, Kenzie can. Eve took some getting used to. She's scarred from her first marriage and isn't eager to get married again. Albeit, she is attracted to Kenzie, and her friend, Maggie, is determined to convince Eve to have an affair with him. One drunken outing with a bottle of spiced rum and loose lips was hilarious between Maggie and Eve and the knight in armor, Kenzie, who came to their rescue after Maggie crashed her truck. But, Eve is a tough nut to crack. Yes, we know she can take care of herself with karate lessons as a girl and the fact she can break a guy's nose and fingers in a bar, but she's cranky a lot. But hey, what it all comes down to is - she just needs a good lay! Kenzie succeeds in getting the job done and eventually she can't resist him and lets down her defenses and her life changes because of him. I liked reading about how she comes around and relaxes, yet still helps him battle the unatural forces that come to Midnight Bay. She learns to accept her mother's condition, she even accepts the fact that there is a dragon living in the woods who talks to her mother, and she learns that it's not such a bad thing to be barefoot and pregnant while churning butter!
The side characters in this book are strong, Maggie is a dear friend who we care about and I loved what happens to her with William at the end (one of my favorite moments of the book!) Mabel, Eve's mother is slowly losing her mind, but it is written well and thoughtfully. It is not maudlin or sappy, we like Mabel and it doesn't take away from her feisty and charming characteristics. Chapman writes from her experiences with her own mother's illness (as is explained in the author's endnotes). You can tell this is a subject she knows about and although Mabel's illness is handled with kid gloves, dementia and long term care is a very real problem in today's society, and it will only become more and more of a problem in the future. It was good to see it and it's repercussions addressed, even if it was in the most idealized and sugar coated way. We should all be so lucky to have our loved ones be as self sufficient and plucky as Eve's mother, Mabel. It makes you think, though, about life ahead and what can happen to your loved ones. Although this was a heart warming romance, I liked this side storyline that was interwoven well with the main plotline of William as a dragon who Mabel befriends. There are a lot of food descriptions in this book too - my mouth was watering at all the pies and bread and other bakery items described - Mabel like to bake (and I'm dieting!)
Overall, this was a good story, the sex scenes were steamy between Eve and Kenzie, although the actual build up of their love for each other was on the light side, one of those all of a sudden "I love him!" moments without enough emotions to go along with it to back up why she loves him. I'm eager to read the next book in this series. I suspect we'll find out what happens between William and Maggie or whatever other animals come down the pike to Midnight Bay for rescuing. A heart warming, realistic, yet paranormal/fantasy contemporary - I recommend this!