Friday, March 15, 2013

Moonlight's Silver (e-short story) by Rayne Auster

Moonlight's Silver is a paranormal m/m romance story published by Dreamspinner Press. It was 23 pages long on my Nook. The only format it was available in that could immediately be read on my e-reader was PDF. It was readable, but annoying, so I took a stab at converting the .LIT file to EPUB via Calibre, and it converted beautifully.

Just a warning: A while back, I learned that Dreamspinner Press has published several fanfic works with little more than the character names changed (Dear Author commented on it here), a practice which I find to be completely and utterly repugnant. I now rarely buy anything from them, but I had already purchased quite a few of their titles prior to learning this. Moonlight's Silver was one of them. I'm continuing my practice of reviewing as much of what I read and watch as possible, but if I learn at a later date that a particular work I reviewed is P2P (pull to publish) fanfic, I'll edit my review to include that information at the top so that readers can factor it into their buying decisions. No one on Goodreads has tagged Moonlight's Silver as P2P fanfic, so I'm going to assume that it's an original work.

Synopsis:

Ankerite is a half-breed, unable to fully shift into either human or wolf form. While growing up, he was protected by a bodyguard. Now that he's out in the world and on his own, the best he can do is hide the parts of himself that aren't fully human and run away when necessary.

When the story begins, Ankerite is running from a werewolf named Cole. He's saved by Linden, who's not happy about another werewolf hunting someone in his territory. Seeing that Ankerite is wounded, Linden carries him back to his place. His kindness bewilders Ankerite, but what will he do once he finds out that Ankerite isn't the full werewolf he believes him to be?

Review:

I bought this a while ago, primarily because of its cover art. This cover art, by the way, has very little to do with the actual story. The character on the cover looks like he's probably a grouchy, broody fighter. Ankerite has his wolfie ears, but that's about where the similarities stop. Ankerite's first response to trouble isn't to fight, because he knows he can't possibly win against a true werewolf, but rather to run or hide. I'm pretty sure Ankerite doesn't even have the character on the cover's facial scar.

In my review for Mary Calmes' Change of Heart, I wrote “On the one hand, I consider this book to be really flawed in a lot of ways. On the other hand, Calmes hit on enough of my favorite romance tropes that I was willing to put up with the flaws.” That's pretty much how I feel about this story, too. I've read it maybe three times now. The first time around, I didn't really notice its flaws because I was blinded by the parts of it that appealed to me. The flaws became more obvious after I reread the story. I still enjoyed it, but I'd hesitate to recommend it to other people.

I love reading about romance between an outcast character and a more powerful/popular/accepted character who doesn't care about the outcast character's status. Moonlight's Silver definitely pushed the right buttons with me in that respect. His whole life, Ankerite was considered a freak, unable to shift fully into one form or another. Linden stood up for him and protected him right from the get-go, without even knowing anything about him or why he was running from Cole. He immediately took issue with Cole referring to Ankerite as “it” rather than “he,” and he didn't like it when one of his pack members got a little too familiar with Ankerite. I loved that.

Like I said, though, this story definitely has flaws. One of them is that there's not much there – this story felt more like a lead-in to a longer work than a complete and self-contained short story. By the end, readers know very little about any of the characters, except for maybe Ankerite. And the information we're given about Ankerite just brings up more questions. How long has he been on his own? Did anyone in his family ever try to look for him? What about Sam, his bodyguard? Did Sam only take care of him because he was paid to, or did he genuinely like Ankerite? What was Ankerite's life like when he wasn't running from werewolves? Was he friends with any of this coworkers at the bookstore he worked at, or did he just hide at home whenever he wasn't working? None of these questions are answered, and, as far as I can tell, Auster has no other stories, novellas, or books set in this world that could help fill in the blanks.

The world-building, what there was of it, wasn't very good. There were werewolves, they had territories that didn't necessarily encompass whole cities, and half-werewolf children couldn't fully shift into either human or wolf form and were generally looked down upon by other werewolves.  Linden's pack seemed to be some kind of more-accepting offshoot. That's pretty much it. I couldn't even really say how homosexuality was viewed among the werewolves in this world, because, on the one hand, it seemed to be accepted without comment (Ron and Darren were more amused by Linden's protectiveness of Ankerite than anything) and, on the other hand, there was this thought Ankerite had when Linden kissed him:
“This was wrong but, at the same time, oh so right. Ankerite knew logically that they shouldn’t be doing this, but he no longer cared.” (21)
Was he thinking this because they were both guys? Because he was a half-werewolf and Linden was a full werewolf? I have no idea. Even during my first and most generous read, those two sentences confused me. This wasn't the only thing in the story that didn't quite make sense - how many modern-day people would be "crying for a stake" (17) after seeing Ankerite's ears? More likely, they'd initially think he was a cosplayer of something.

After my first read, I decided I enjoyed this story enough that I wanted to try one of Auster's longer works, so I bought Gatekeeper. Unfortunately, the flaws I was able to ignore in a shorter work like Moonlight's Silver became unbearable in Gatekeeper, and I have yet to finish that one.

Read-alikes:
  • Change of Heart (e-book) by Mary Calmes - This hit some of the same buttons for me that Moonlight's Silver did: main character who's used to being an outcast, another character who falls for him and will stand by him no matter what. This one is also paranormal m/m romance featuring shapeshifters and the soulmate trope. I've written about it.
  • On the Prowl (anthology), recommended primarily for the novella "Alpha and Omega" by Patricia Briggs - The first full book in Briggs' Alpha and Omega series is actually Cry Wolf, but lovers of the soulmate trope in particular should really, really start with the novella. If you start with the first full book you'll miss out on some of Anna and Charles' story - the novella shows how they met, and the book continues where the novella left off. Anna is an Omega werewolf, a werewolf whose mere presence tends to have a calming influence on other werewolves. Unfortunately, her pack is really messed up, and when Charles first meets her she is skittish and wary from years of abuse. Charles is the son of the guy who is basically the leader of all the werewolves, as well as his designated hitman, and he is not amused by the treatment Anna has suffered. As an added bonus, Briggs' Alpha and Omega series is overall better-written than Moonlight's Silver.
  • Duck! (e-book) by Kim Dare - A paranormal m/m romance that features BDSM and avian shifters. Those who'd like another mistreated protagonist who is then cared for by his rescuer might want to give this a try. I've written about it.

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