Moonlight Sins by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Book One of the de Vincent series
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
Julia Hughes has always played it safe until she learned a very painful lesson. Now Julia’s starting over with a job in the Louisiana bayou—and a scorching encounter with a stranger, only to discover he’s Lucian de Vincent . . . her new employer. The de Vincent brothers share a massive fortune and a dark reputation. Julia cares for their troubled sister, but a menacing presence in the mansion—and the ever-present temptation of Lucian—prove dangerously distracting.
Lucian’s grandmother claimed de Vincent men fall in love once—and hard. Apparently, it’s Lucian’s turn. Julia’s compassionate care of his twin makes Lucian want to lay himself bare. But some secrets are better for Julia not to know.
The recent “suicide” of Lucian’s father is the latest in a string of deaths on the estate. Someone is eliminating the de Vincents. And the best way to get to Lucian may be through Julia. . . .
What I Liked:
I had high hopes for this book, because (1) it's a JLA book, and she's a great storyteller, and (2) the whole New Orleans/Gothic vibe really pulled me in. I love stories involving the heroine living in the same house as the hero (like this case, in which Julia is hired as a live-in nurse, or historical romance novels in which the heroine is a governess or chaperone, or whatever). So I excited to like this book a lot. In the end, I felt kind of meh about it. I have no doubt that fans of JLA will enjoy the book. For me, I just didn't love it.
Julia is a sweet, caring young woman in her late twenties, looking for a fresh start. She's leaving her job as a nurse to move to Louisiana and work as a live-in nurse, caring for a young woman in a near-coma. But Julia doesn't know that the young woman is Madeline de Vincent, and that the family hiring her is the notorious de Vincent family. Three brothers live in the de Vincent mansion - Devlin, Gabriel, and Lucian. There is something strange about the house, and there is something even stranger about the brothers. No matter how she tries, she can't get Lucian from under her skin. Lucian would do anything for his twin sister Maddie, including allowing a nurse to live in the mansion and become privy to the de Vincent secrets. But he doesn't plan on falling for her. His feelings for her put her in danger, something neither of them realize until it is too late.
For the most part, I liked Julia. She is different from JLA's repetitive heroines, who are usually spitfire spunky girls who are always looking for a fight. Nothing wrong with those types, but it seems like ALL of JLA's heroines are like that. Julia is actually very sweet and caring, and takes her job as a nurse very seriously. I liked how resolute and determined she was to treat Maddie as best as possible, and how she tried to keep things professional between her and Lucian. Julia, for the most part, is very smart, and I loved her sweetness and near-docility. Her strength is quiet and smooth, not loud.
Lucian is such a flirt, and a charming, swoony one at that. He has his own emotional baggage, including his relationship with his father, his tense relationship with the eldest de Vincent (Devlin), and all that he has done to protect the de Vincent family. I liked Lucian even though he's such a flirt - he is very honest and open about what he wants, so you can't even really fault him for being a flirt.
The mystery/suspense part of the story deals with the murder (but apparent suicide) of the de Vincent patriarch (the brothers' father), which happened right around the time Maddie shows up, lying face-first in the family's pool. Maddie is unresponsive and barely moves, but something strange is going on, and it has to do with her reappearance, after ten years of absence. Sometimes the suspense was intriguing, other times it was boring.
The romance started off really lusty and eventually progressed to deeper feelings. I liked the chemistry between Lucian and Julia and also liked how they fit together as a couple, beyond the sexy times. They circled each other for nearly the entire book but it was gratifying to see them finally get together. They had good chemistry!
I didn't really care about the other two brothers, though I'm curious to see if Devlin will crack under his perfect, cold facade. Gabe got on my nerves and I don't really care to read his book (the next one, Moonlight Seduction). But I did like the bond between the three brothers, tense as things were.
Overall, the book wasn't bad, but I have a bit of a bad taste in my mouth after finishing the book, like something didn't settle right with me. There were a couple things that I didn't care for, minor as they might seem.
What I Did Not Like:
I just can't shake the "meh" feeling I have for this book. Like it was an okay read but 10/10 would not reread, that sort of thing. At times I was intrigued, other times I was bored. The beginning was somewhat boring, and then it got interesting, and then it got boring again, and you get the idea.
The middle 40% of the book is kind of a drought in terms of sexy times, so that might have factored into things. Maybe the other should have spread things out, in terms of the sexy times. Also I kept seeing people say how this book was sooooooo hot. It really wasn't? I mean it was pretty hot but not scorching hot? I think my expectations, in that regard, were too high.
I really could have done without Gabe's initial interest in Julia. Seriously? It wasn't the formation of a love triangle, thank goodness, but the author could have dropped that part, especially since it clearly went nowhere. I h a t e when there is any hint of anything when it involves brothers, so that didn't need to be in the story at all. When Julia meets Gabe for the first time? Unnecessary. Other interactions? Unnecessary. Again, no love triangle, no messiness, but it just felt unnecessary, especially since Julia had no feelings or attraction towards him.
It's amazing how a heroine who is supposedly not super attractive, somehow attracts aaaaallllll the hot men in town. Good for Devlin for being a cold-hearted bastard with no interest in Julia.
The climax and ending felt really rushed. I completely expected the ending, actually from the moment a key character was introduced I knew what was going on, and yet I still had a hard time keeping track of what was going on in the end. There was a lot to sort through. Also? There was that cliche thing in which the villain took the time to explain everything to the hero/heroine. Does this ever actually happen in real life? I highly doubt it. This is a pet peeve that seriously bothers me.
Would I Recommend It:
If you're a fan of JLA's adult work then it's fair to give this book a shot - especially since the "meh" feeling that I have could very well just be me. I wanted to fall in love with this book and also be seriously creeped out and chilled by the Gothic setting and curses and hauntings and whatnot. Mostly I was just annoyed with Julia for not jumping Lucian's bones, and for Gabe not leaving everyone alone (he's so annoying), and for everyone not waking up and seeing what was in front of them. Also don't read this book if even a shred or hint of love triangles mess with you. There isn't a love triangle but it still bothered me (Gabe's interest in Julia).
3 stars. I do not think I will be reading Moonlight Seduction, especially since Gabe's story now has a trope that I do not like (feel free to contact me if you want to know more). Don't get me wrong! These books can be read as standalone novels and this trope I mention has nothing to do with Lucian and Julia. If book three focuses on Devlin, then I will probably read book three! But not book two.
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