Rating: 5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Let me start off by saying if I could give this book more than five stars, I would. Mercy Celeste, otherwise known as the Queen of Angst, is at it again and delivers yet another amazing story that broke my heart then stomped on it, made me want to scream, burned me, had me in tears, made me swoon, and then made me beg for more. I’m not sure that I have the words to tell you how much I love this book. But I’m sure as hell gonna try.
Xander Cooper has been in love with Taylor since he was fourteen. Well…in love with, but ultimately hated. Taylor broke Xan’s heart when he left home at the age of nineteen for the Army. And since he’s been back, he’s been distant and a jerk. But the one night Xander needed him, the night that changed everything, Taylor was there for him. Xander’s restaurant is not in the best part of the French Quarter, but he’s never had any problems until now. Leaving work late as usual, Xander encounters three thugs who threaten not only his life but his virtue. Who knows what would have happened if Taylor, aka Detective Hardass, hadn’t shown up?
Detective Taylor Campbell left for the Army at nineteen so that he wouldn’t be tempted to cross a line with the fifteen-year-old Xander that he couldn’t come back from. Ten years and too many regrets later, Taylor walks back into Xander’s life. When unsolved murders of several gay men turn up only miles from Xander’s diner, Taylor makes it his duty to watch out for the one man he’s been avoiding since his return to New Orleans. Following Xan home after rescuing him from the thugs may not have been the best idea, but Taylor isn’t exactly known for thinking before acting. Falling into the man’s bed wasn’t planned, but it was so easy to fall under the spell of Xander Cooper.
While Xander struggles with Taylor reemerging into his life and trying to figure if he can let Taylor in on his family’s witchy secret, Taylor struggles with some secrets of his own. When rumors are whispered and secrets are revealed, the heartbreak that follows is inevitable. Taylor never meant to hurt Xander, but Taylor is also a man of honor, a man of his word. Heartbroken, Xander turns looks for a way to fill the hole in his heart, even facing danger head on. And even though he can’t make Xander listen to reason, Taylor wouldn’t turn away from the commitment he’s already made, no matter how bad it hurts and hard it is to watch Xander self-destruct. Shattered and lonely, Taylor and Xander must find a way to mend what they broke, learn to trust one another, and move on if they are to ever survive the murderer still on the loose.
I’ve already told you that I love this book. But I’m not sure you completely understand yet. You’ve heard me say this before, but it’s worth repeating. Mercy Celeste is a definite must read. She’s on my top five list. I absolutely adore every book of hers that I’ve read, and rest assured, I’ve read them all – most more than once. Celeste’s books are flawless in their composition, they’re full of angst and heartbreak (most of them), they’re full of passion and dirty, sweaty, fiery sex, and they follow a beautiful relationship through an agonizing journey that makes a fragile coupling into an unbreakable bond.
It’s that journey that I want to focus on first. Xander and Taylor have a history. They also have so many obstacles in their way throughout this story that I wasn’t sure they would ever find their way together. It was heart-wrenching. This book is one in which the author draws readers into her story and makes them feel what the characters are feeling. I was broken and miserable. I was happy and overjoyed at times. And in the end I was truly content and giggly (but you’ll understand that when you read the fairy tale ending). This story is a true journey from fragility, to broken, to numb, to surviving, to tortured, to accepting, and finally, to true happiness. It’s a story of growth and acceptance, of trust, and understanding. It’s an amazing journey and a thrilling rollercoaster ride.
I am a huge fan of anything southern, as I am from the south. Sometimes I have a hard time reading books set in the Deep South because the author tries too hard to make their characters sound southern. That is not the case with this author. It is obvious that she has not only been to Cajun Country, but has spent enough time there to know the people and portray them honestly. It’s refreshing and fun. And I absolutely love Esme and her dialect. It’s beautiful to me. Not only does she portray the people of NOLA perfectly, but the setting itself. You can feel the seasonal change…and by that, I mean from summer to winter – the steamy hot to the frigid cold. The sights, the smells, the beauty and the dirty – Mercy Celeste leaves nothing to the reader’s imagination, but paints a beautiful and somewhat poignant picture.
The fantasy, the magic of this story is subtle. It’s not the focus of the story, but kind of a secondary character. Something that is there and has always been there. Something that is new and scary to Taylor, but commonplace to Xander. The world is a sort of contemporary/fantasy. It’s a believable would with families born to magic. I love it. Like I said, it’s subtle and soft, but still very much present.
I am saving the best for last here. I absolutely love these characters. Xander is a confused, broken, lonely man who has pined for his first love for ten years. Taylor is a hardened, merciless ass who doesn’t think about how his actions affect others. They are both conflicted and vulnerable in their own ways. I love that they are not perfect. That they have faults and that sometimes they are unable to look past one another’s faults because they are just too stubborn. They are real. And that makes their relationship and the ending of this story so powerful. Xander and Taylor are simply imperfect perfection.
As you can see, I am head over heels for this book. I’m not sure if I’ve even explained to you how great this book is. I hope even a small amount of my love for this story has shown through. I will, as always, remain a fan of Celeste, and I will wait on pins and needles for whatever she has planned in the future. With its subtle world, broken and stubborn characters, and flawlessly written story, I highly recommend Under a Crescent Moon by Mercy Celeste.
Note: For those of you who require such warnings, there is a scene or two that may be considered cheating. Depending on how you view it. Trust me it’s worth getting all the facts before making a judgment call on that. There is also a scene of dubious consent. It’s is not a graphic scene, but I understand not all readers are the same and some of you don’t read any sort of dub con. To each his or her own. Finally there is drug use mentioned, but never blatantly described in the story.