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Dangerous Moonlight by Mel Keegan
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Dangerous Moonlight

by Mel Keegan

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The story starts with the illegitimate son of a successful jeweler making his way home when his carriage is stopped by a highwayman. As he has nothing he can't lose and those things are a common acurance in the country side of the 18th century he fights his urge to fight as well as his urge to figure the identity of the mysteriously appealing man of the road and let it pass. When home his father informs him he is changing his will to pass all his fortune, estate and business to him, thus disinheritting his layabout, gambling, whoring wastrel of a legal son (I love him already WHAT a villain). This turn of good fortune cannot continue, naturally since this IS an action adventure story.

Upon carrying a fortune in Jeweles on the way to Bath our illegitimate son comes across the same highwayman. This time Mr. Highwayman cannot contain himself at the sight of the man he mistakes for a nobleman son and combines a little jewelery heist with a moonlight snogging before dissapearing into shadow feeling somewhat exhilirated yet heartbroken... after all - twice is lucky but one cannot expect love to spring out of crime.

This time the Jeweler son takes chase, he follows the highwayman trail through the English country side in the rain and finally, nursing a head-cold, tracks him to his home and challenge him to a duel... which he looses by falling off a cliff and almost dying leaving our besoted highwayman to nurse him back to health .

The friction continues for some time before the two protagonists finally give into their emotions but there are some fantastic moments of missunderstanding and manly sulkiness on the road to love. Once that clears up - the old Jeweler dies leaving his bastard son in charge and as a result - a target to the legit son's plots and hence starts a sweeping adventures of highway robbery, sailing, smuggling, gambling and horse racing.

Mel Keegan never goes easy on any characters. These two are yet to experience what Stone and Jarrat had to go through in the first NARC novel but they are certainly not spared. On top of falling off a cliff during a duel our young Jeweler come highwayman finds himself tied to a mast in the storm crossing the channel, beaten in a street brawl, drugged and auctioned in the dungeon of a den of vice and thrown in jail for the false charges of extortion.

One of the things that makes MK characters so loveable is the way they always take things on the chin, gather themselves up and keep going. There is no over-done weepy angst or psychological breakdowns. This is the story of two strong men forged by their hardship and it makes them so appealing... I could probably make a menue of MK characters for a three meal course every day... delicious :D:D:D

The novel doesn't stop for a moment there is gambling and swashbuckling, whore houses and taverns. It is so brilliantly brought to life you forget to breath sometimes. MK has the ability to describe things in the tiniest details and still make it facinating. There is an instant in the book when almost 5 pages are given to a game of Whist. This should by all means be boring yet it is not. It is described minute by minute as if you are sitting at the table waiting for fortunes and lives to be determined by a turn of a card. When one of the main charachters is punched in the jaw they stop briefly to check that all their teeth are in place and the sense of sencere worry suddenly reminds you there was no proper dental treatment for lost teeth - once you lost a tooth you had to live without it for the rest of your life.

Well researched doesn't even start to describe it because there is nothing more annoying than research dump in a novel when an author shows off their knowledge. MK just does it effortlessly when and if it is needed without explanation or too much elaboration. It is only on second reading that I started to notice these little instances scattered throughout the book.

It is a thrilling read, highly romantic, beautifully detailed. I always wanted to read a novel like this and Mel Keegan fulfiled my dream. ( )
  Zehavit_Lamasu | Feb 15, 2007 |
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