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I Belong

Review: Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett

Title: Kindling the Moon

Author: Jenn Bennett

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Arcadia Bell (Book 1)

Publication Date: June 28, 2011

Format: Paperback, 358 Pages

ISBN-10: 1451620527 (Pocket Books)

ISBN-13: 978-1451620528 (Pocket Books)

Reviewed by: Sheila


Meet Arcadia Bell: bartender, renegade magician, fugitive from the law. . . .

Being the spawn of two infamous occultists (and alleged murderers) isn’t easy, but freewheeling magician Arcadia “Cady” Bell knows how to make the best of a crummy situation. After hiding out for seven years, she’s carved an incognito niche for herself slinging drinks at the demon-friendly Tambuku Tiki Lounge.

But she receives an ultimatum when unexpected surveillance footage of her notorious parents surfaces: either prove their innocence or surrender herself. Unfortunately, the only witness to the crimes was an elusive Æthyric demon, and Cady has no idea how to find it. She teams up with Lon Butler, an enigmatic demonologist with a special talent for sexual spells and an arcane library of priceless stolen grimoires. Their research soon escalates into a storm of conflict involving missing police evidence, the decadent Hellfire Club, a ruthless bounty hunter, and a powerful occult society that operates way outside the law. If Cady can’t clear her family name soon, she’ll be forced to sacrifice her own life . . . and no amount of running will save her this time.

Quick & Dirty: A fast-paced ride fraught with danger and the buddings of a new relationship.

Opening SentenceI knew better than to be preoccupied when Tambuku Tiki Lounge was overcapacity.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Kindling the Moon explores a universal truth; we can never live up to our parents expectations, even in the paranormal world.  Parents everywhere (myself included) create in their minds what our children’s lives will be like.  What they will grow up and do professionally and whether or not they will go to college.  When they will find the right person to settle down with (along with our stamp of approval, of course) and raise grandbabies to spoil.  And no matter how successful or content with their life that our children may be, it will never 100% match up with what we wanted for them. Parents forget that we too were once children, and we disappointed our parents as well.  Arcadia Bell’s parents had a planned future for their daughter that she had not lived up to.  While most parents moan and lament over our children’s shortcomings, Arcadia’s parents go a little extreme.  But, I jump ahead of myself.

Arcadia Bell is in hiding.  Seven years ago, her parents were wrongly convicted of murdering several people and were forced to fake their own deaths.  At the same time, they convinced Arcadia to go into hiding in order to help them all “stay safe.”  Now her parents have been spotted, alive and well, on TV, and Arcadia’s years of hiding have come to an end.  The families of the victim’s, and the magical organizations they belong to, want blood, and they don’t care where they get it from.  Arcadia has been given two weeks to either find evidence proving her parent’s innocence or present herself for execution on her parent’s behalf.  During this time, she is constantly being attacked and hunted by demons and bounty hunters alike.  Can Arcadia even survive long enough to find the evidence she needs before time runs out?

Arcadia has put her parents on an impossible pedestal.  She believes that they love her unconditionally and stay separated from her for her own safety.  For this reason, she is willing to do just about anything to see them set free.  This is Arcadia and her rose-colored glasses.  Her courage and fortitude are all centered around the idea she has of her parents.  Her feelings of duty push her to extreme lengths.  What will she do if her parents disapprove of her life choices?  Will she change to make them happy or will she fight for her own life?  All of her current problems stem from them.  When she found out that her parents were spotted, she could have fled and changed her identity again without getting involved.  But had she done that, she would have never had the opportunity to find something for herself; a chance to truly begin living her own life and not one for the sole benefit of her parents.

Lon Butler is an ass.  He is an Earthbound demon and a father of an enthusiastic 13-year-old boy named Jupe.  He also knows all about other demons.  So when Arcadia approaches him in search of a rare demon that may have caused the killings her parents were framed for, he declines.  The man only looks out for himself and his son, not some desperate human magician that drags trouble in her wake.  Yet, despite all that, he changes his mind and decides to help her after all.  He uses his considerable resources to try and locate this demon for her.  And even though his social skills are sorely lacking, he declares his interest in her.  What is it about Arcadia that has Lon all tied up in knots?  Is she worth it?

Arcadia and Lon have the most realistic courting I have ever read in a paranormal book, apart from all the life-threatening situations.  There biggest obstacles are centered around basic “human” relationship hurtles and not some off-the-wall supernatural “Acts of God.” They have an age gap.  Lon has a teenage son that Arcadia is closer in age to than himself.  His ex-wife also happens to be a former supermodel (not what a new girlfriend wants to be compared with).  And Arcadia holds her past close to her heart.  They both are working through their personal insecurities while trying to find a common ground in which to create a lasting relationship on.  Those are the same themes that every adult relationship I know of goes through.  They each have their own lives and priorities that may or may not be compatible with one another.  But at least they are willing to try, which cannot always be said of others.  Of course, all of the danger gives the two of them the extra push they needed in the “sexual tension” area.  Would they have gotten together if their lives weren’t constantly in danger?

But even when it seems that these two have found a way to be with one another, there is still the issue of her parents.  Arcadia’s loyalties begin to split between the parents she has always put first and her “newly won” relationship with Lon.  Her priorities shift under the weight of growing into her own life apart from the people that raised her.  Arcadia’s parents have high expectations of her and she is no longer measuring up.  Living the life you want in contrast with the life planned out for you is a classic ideal.  A part of growing up is about taking a hold of the reigns and steering your own way, so to speak.  Of course, this particular set of parents takes their role to a whole new level and gives it a twist that leaves the reader as dumbfounded as the characters themselves.

This book offers its readers several likable characters, enough action to keep you entertained, and themes that everyone can relate to.  Arcadia Bell and Lon are swiftly becoming one of my new favorite couples.  I look forward to finding out what is in store for the two of them next.

Notable Scene:

“You gonna invite me in, or you wanna talk out here?”

I moved from the doorway and gestured for him to come inside.  Ten o’clock on a Friday night, and I as letting strange men into my house while I was half dressed.  I reminded myself that he had, at one time, been studying to become a priest.  That meant he took a vow of chastity, didn’t it?  I idly wondered if he stuck to it after he got kicked out, then decided that he didn’t look all that chaste to me.

“Have a seat,” I said, pointing toward the sofa in front of the television.  At least the downstairs wasn’t too messy.  My bedroom looked like a bomb had gone off in it, and the master bath was disgusting.  “I’ll be right back.  I need to… put something on,” I murmured as he sat down.

The trek up the stairs was excruciating.  Why a thong- why today?  I guess it could have been worse.  I mean, yes, the lower half of my rear was hanging out, but at least I wasn’t wearing cheap multipack cotton panties, full of holes with the elastic worn out, like half of my others.  When I got the nagging feeling that his eyes were on my backside, I wondered if it would look cowardly if I took two stairs at a time.

“Nice ass.”

My bent leg hesitated on the step.  I turned my head to glare, but found him staring intently at the screen of his cell phone-as if he’d never said a word.  For a second, I wondered if I’d imagined it, but I hadn’t.  Thoroughly uncomfortable now, I continued my climb in silence without responding.

The Arcadia Bell Series:

1. Kindling the Moon

2. Summoning the Night

2.5 Leashing the Tempest

3. Binding the Shadows

FTC Advisory: Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books provided me with a copy of Kindling the MoonNo goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.  The only payment received came in the form of hugs and kisses from my little boys.

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