Pros: Original premise; good pacing; interesting story
Cons: Female lead’s personality seemed inconsistent; some parts meant to be touching were instead silly
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
In The Trouble with Moonlight, author Donna MacMeans has created a rather unusual premise for a Victorian romance. Young Lusinda Havershaw has resigned herself to spinsterhood. Like her mother before her, she possesses the unusual trait of invisibility: when exposed to the light of the moon, she vanishes from sight. And so in a time most concerned with propriety and virtue, the nights of the full moon see her wandering about the streets of London completely naked and invisible to all. To support her aunt and sisters she takes ‘recovery’ jobs, stealing into homes and taking things that others will pay to have returned to them.
It’s on one of these jobs that she’s discovered by James Locke, a spy for the government who needs Lusinda’s help in recovering a missing list of British agents before it’s passed on to the Russians. James trains Lusinda to crack safes and engage in espionage, while the both of them, each convinced of their inability to share their lives with another, try to avoid falling in love (or lust!).
Fair warning: after reading a few historical romances, I have to admit they aren’t my favorite genre. That will inevitably color my feelings. I also don’t have the kind of background to tell you just how accurate (or not) the historical aspects are. So I’ll tackle the rest of the story and let another reviewer help you with those parts!
Part of the reason for my lack of patience with historical romances is that I just can’t get into the whole female “I must preserve my virtue & reputation” angst. When that seems to be the majority of the force keeping two people apart, I get impatient and annoyed with the characters. I enjoy romantic plots much more when the conflict keeping two characters apart comes (at least in large part) from outside of them. I know it’s accurate to many historical time periods, but it still drives me nuts. If you enjoy that kind of romance—and I know there are plenty of readers that do—then I expect you’ll like this one much more than I did.
In the case of The Trouble with Moonlight, the whole virtue/virginal thing also lead to a scene that… Well, I don’t want to give away too much plot detail, but lets just say that a scene that can result in a woman saying she accidentally lost her virginity makes me roll my eyes. It came across as silly—and not in a planned, entertaining way.
To finish getting the things I wasn’t so fond of out of the way, the heroine struck me as kind of inconsistent. One minute she was reveling in the freedom of walking naked and invisible in front of London’s population, and the next she was as uptight as any historical lass. Also, there were several times when I found it hard to believe she couldn’t identify the bad guy—she kept recognizing that his voice was familiar, and she was familiar with so few men at that point that this really should have been sufficient for identification.
Unfortunately, however, you probably now think I didn’t like this book, and that isn’t the case. I absolutely loved the original premise of Lusinda’s people and their hinted-at detailed background. Locke was a wonderfully fresh hero character, and he and Lusinda had lovely chemistry. The book was paced beautifully and I found it hard to put it down in order to get some sleep. I think that someone who appreciates the conventions of historicals more than I do would get a lot more out of it than I did.
(Standard warnings: Explicit non-kinky sex; mild violence)