Marked by Moonlight
by Sharie Kohler
(Pocket, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN  978-1-4165-4227-8
***
Mousy teacher Claire Morgan follows a troubled student into a bad neighborhood and almost ends up his dinner.  Gideon March, against his better judgment, does not kill her immediately, even though he saw the werewolf bite her.

The first time Gideon shows up in Claire's apartment, her initial thought is that he's crazy. Who really believes in werewolves (or, as Gid calls them, lycans)?  But, through a series of blunders and various misadventures, Claire is forced to realize that she just isn't the same as she was before the wild dog attacked her in the alley.  She also can't dispute the fact that Lenny, her student, has disappeared off of the face of the earth.

Finally convinced that lycans may very well exist and inevitably drawn to Gideon despite his promise to kill her if he can't save her from changing at the full moon, Claire and Gideon launch into a search for Claire's "alpha" — the head of the bloodline by which she was changed into a werewolf.  Theoretically, killing the alpha will undo the taint in her blood—as long as Claire has not fed off of a human before he is killed.  Helping Claire violates everything Gideon has believed in up until this point (that lycans should be killed on the spot no matter what), and eventually loses him his job as a lycan hunter and the respect of the man who saved his life as a teenager.

Claire's character develops nicely from the naive pushover to a strong-willed woman who stands by her own decisions. Claire suffers the same concerns for herself that the reader has, and occasionally suffers the consequences of them. Gideon doesn't move along as well, although his change of heart toward the end of the book is refreshing.  His mentor, Cooper, also makes a last-minute about-face, but it seems pretty trite.

The first in a series, Marked by Moonlight brings to life some characters readers are certain to see in future books. There is a fair amount of violence to this one (hand-to- hand and guns primarily), and the level of suspense isn't bad even though the reader is given precious few clues regarding the mystery of who Claire's alpha will turn out to be. Claire and Gideon's relationship is always up in the air, which is a nice change from many paranormals which seem to have their characters leaping right into bed and staying there for the duration of the novel.  Kohler's book is a commendable, if mostly predictable, first to this new werewolf series, and carries a lot of potential for future novels.

--Sarrah Knight


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