|The ninth book in the Nightcreatures series, Marked by the Moon displays a new maturity in Lori Handeland's writing that has convinced this reader to pick up more of her books. Though I hadn't been impressed with her style before (though she certainly never lacked for imagination), this latest installment will hopefully be the exception that makes a new rule.
Alex Trevalyn used to be, along with her father, a member of the jager-sucher, an organization that primarily kills werewolves, though its leader is a man of many talents and secrets. Now, years after her father was killed by one of the beasts, Alex is out on her own, no longer capable of sticking to the jager-sucher’s mission.
Julian Barlow has plans for Alexandra, and she's going to hate every second of it, which just about makes him smile. One of the "beasts" that she's made it her life's work to destroy was his wife. In a thousand years, the only wife he'd ever taken. So, he bites Alex. Then, because it is true that a newly-turned werewolf needs blood, he leaves a man locked in a room with her.
Luckily for Alex, after Julian leaves her behind, her old boss shows up with a compromise: he has a serum that will maintain her soul, and he'll give it to her as long as she promises to stick with Barlow and find his home, something that has remained elusive for the past sixty or so years.
Alex agrees; what other option is there? Bad enough that now she gets furry in a full moon and is salivating at the criminal in the corner — at least she can keep her soul and, hopefully, some of her humanity. Barlow makes sticking to him fairly easy: he comes back for her. Julian's considerably less happy about that than Alex; his need to take care of her goes beyond parent-child obligation, as the two will find out rather heatedly.
The push-pull of Alex and Julian's relationship will pull readers in from the first sentence. It's a horrible scenario: falling for a man who hates you because you killed his wife; falling for a woman you should despise for murdering the most important person in your life. It's more than just a hurdle, and it underscores every decision made in Marked by the Moon from sentence one. Alex and Julian are both strong, both stubborn, and both eventually willing to let the physical aspect of their relationship slide as long as they can ignore the rest. Well, the rest won't be ignored, and the fact of the matter is that Alex is really there to bring down Julian's pack ... of which she is now a member. All of the conflict doesn't get old, it just gets richer and richer as the book moves along. I think readers will be delighted; I know I was, and I will definitely be looking forward to the next installment in the Nightcreatures series.