by Darragha Foster, paranormal (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-383-7
The Mooncusser clan in Mooncusser Cove refers to a bunch of criminals in Marshes Coomb who make their living on piracy and other related activities since the days of the Puritans coming over to America. Because of their activities, they "cuss" at the moon since a moonlit night will put a damper on their nightly activities. Okay, that's not a bad rationale for the name of the clan, if I may say so, even if a part of me wishes that the author has chosen a better name, or at least a name that doesn't seem to have come straight out of a South Park cartoon, for the clan in question.
The curse that befalls the Mooncusser clan arises some time in 1877 when these folks on day cause the grounding of the wrong ship onto their shore. The captain of the Sea Shadow happens to be not human. The confrontation between the defiant Mooncusser folks and this captain result in these folks being turned into "shadow lovers" who feed on either "energies" that are produced during sexual activity or on blood. Most of them prefer the former.
Today, our heroine Vesper Highgate-Adaire is the only one from the original Mooncusser Cove folks who still live there. She has become an urban legend of Cape Mooncusser for starring in the erotic dreams of many men in the area (she casts some kind of spell on her victims to make them believe that their encounters with her are merely a dream). As she plays the role of the local succubus, Vesper sets in motions her plan to restore Mooncusser Manor and the Cove to its former glory.
Our hero, an author named Jerrod Castaneda (formerly John Paladin) doesn't know this at first but The Paladins and the Highgate-Adaires have a bond from way back when the Paladins, like their names would suggest, act as bodyguards and protectors of the Highgate-Adaires. Our hero wakes up from a three-month coma - he was in an accident - to learn that he has inherited some property of his late father. Guess where this property is. Jerrod has found a new lease of life after his recovery and he decides to work on a book based on the local legends of Marshes Coomb. He also decides to accept the post of a handyman to a neighbor lady while he's staying there. I'm sure you can also guess who this neighbor turns out to be.
What happens next is a pretty interesting, let's just say, story. This is a Darragha Foster story so I know I can expect some macabre and even ghoulish plot developments here and there, and Mooncusser Cove does not disappoint. This one is easily an erotic paranormal romance as much as it is a horror story at times, with Ms Foster not shying away from the darker aspects of vampirism.
I'm not really sure if Ms Foster has quite succeeded in making her characters as interesting as she could have been though. I believe I get what the author is trying to do with Vespers and I understand and appreciate the message she is trying to convey about how sometimes we are our own enemy, but Vespers never comes together as a well-drawn character to me. Likewise, Jerrod can be a nice guy but he doesn't feel well-drawn to me either. Part of this could be due to how sometimes the characters can inexplicably do things that seem out of character or contradict something they have said previously, such as how Vespers at one point want Jerrod not to save a villain only to in the next chapter talk about wanting to save this villain and blame herself for failing to do so. There are many small inconsistencies in the characters that add up to create occasional bumps in character continuity.
But oh my, the setting is gorgeous. Is Mooncusser Cove real? Ms Foster describes the place and the sea as if it is some place that she knows intimately. This book is rich in lush atmosphere. Likewise, the legend and the curse of the heroine's family are most interesting and can probably spin off a series of some sort if the author puts her mind to it. I'm still not too sure why a Paladin needs a Highgate-Adaire as much the latter would need the former, even if the author describes the relationship between those two as a symbiotic one, but I like and appreciate the depth put into the canon of the story.
Therefore, a part of me feels that perhaps the setting and the history of the heroine's family in Mooncusser Cove end up being much more interesting than the main characters or their love story. However, Mooncusser Cove also drives home why I am a fan of this author: the story may not be a keeper for me, but I will definitely remember this one. The setting, the canon, and the last few chapters of this story are definitely unmistakably something straight of that sometimes scary place called Planet Darragha. At any rate, I'm glad that I get to visit that place again.
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