Berkley, $7.99, March 6, 2012
When Grace Andreas’s sister, Petra, and her husband are both killed, Grace inherits the Power and responsibilities of the Oracle of Louisville, as well as her sister’s two young children—neither of which she is prepared for. Then Khalil, Demonkind and Djinn Prince of House Marid, decides to make himself a part of the household both as guardian and counterpoint to Grace’s impudence towards the Elder Races.
Thea Harrison’s series, The Elder Races is a paranormal romance series set in modern times, in a supernatural world filled with sexy over the top alpha shifters, intelligent, powerful humans, elusive vampires, snobby elves, and all manners of in-between. Suspense, intrigue, humor, and plenty of super sexy action combine for a delicious twist on the genre.
Grace Andreas hasn’t had it easy. Forced to take over as Oracle and raise her niece and nephew when her sister and her sister’s husband died, she is untrained, both as a parent and a soothsayer. Injured, with a run-down farm house, and no money coming in, Grace has hit rock bottom. Until she meets Khalil. Khalil is a powerful djinn prince who first meets Grace when he pays off a debt to a friend. Arrogant, dominant, and completely inhuman, he finds himself both insulted and intrigued by Grace Andreas. He makes himself at home in her house, under the pretense of watching over her niece and nephew, when other supernaturals threaten them. This gets him in a world of trouble due to his arrogance and complete lack of human understanding:
“You were a talking cat with children who are much too young to differentiate between that and reality.”
His eyes narrowed. “What nonsense are you spouting, human?”
“What do you think is going to happen the next time Chloe sees a black cat?” Grace demanded. “Do you think she’s going to say to herself, oh this is not like the freaky black cat that talks to me, and lets me yank its tail, and pokes it in the eye? No. Do you know what she’s going to do try to do? She’s going to try to talk to it, and pull its tail, and maybe poke it in the eye. And you know what that cat is going to do— because it’s a real goddamn cat? It’s going to scratch her. It might bite her. Cat bites are filthy things. Usually the puncture wounds go deep, and they get infected. And then suddenly, I’ll be taking a confused, crying four year-old girl to the ER for a three-hundred dollar doctor’s visit to get antibiotics, all because of your ignorant arrogance!”
Oracle’s Moon is not only one of my favorite books in this series, but also a favorite trope. I love when two seemingly indomitable wills meet and clash. Watching the hero and heroine go from antagionists to lovers is a delicious storyline, especially when the characters are as defined and emotional as Grace and Khalil. Grace has no time to deal with Khalil and he is simply unable to comprehend that; his world revolves around him and the fact that Grace doesn’t seem too impressed with him both astounds and confuses him.
Their dialogue is filled with sarcasm and snark, as Grace refuses to bow to Khalil’soverpowering will. It’s only when he takes the time to watch and learn more about Grace and her situation does that he sees the mistakes he has made in his judgment of her. In fact, both Grace and Khalil realize that their first impressions of each other were wrong: Grace is not the lazy inept human he took her for, and Khalil isn’t so much cruel as he is ignorant of humans and their lives.
He clearly liked creating mischief, and he carried more arrogance in his little finger than anybody else she had ever met. But she did not sense any true malevolence in his actions. Despite his acerbic and high- handed manner, all in all he had treated her far better than she had expected.
While Grace and Khalil warily circle around each other, neither quite giving in, Grace is trying to be the Oracle and trying to understand the power that comes with the position. She never thought the power would come to her and she is at a loss to what is required. She soon realizes that she has come into her power at a bad time—war is coming to the supernatural community, and she’s thrust into the middle of it. She has always felt torn between her human side and the Oracle. It’s only when she loses her fear of the unknown does she fully understand what she is and can be.
Ms. Harrison does a fabulous job of incorporating Grace’s niece and nephew as main characters and not fillers. Chloe and Max are adorable ties that bind Khalil to Grace, due to events from Khaill’s past. Watching him charm and beguile the children is delightful, but is also a forceful reminder of why Grace fights with him so much—the children mean everything to her. Khalil’s inherent arrogance only heightens his lack of knowledge. Eventually, he figures out how much he doesn’t know, and feels completely inadequate. Then he finally understands what Grace means when she tells him he is way out of his league:
"Sit with your aunt. I will clear away this mess and . . . I will achieve pancakes.”
Grace’s lovely, tired face wobbled with what looked suspiciously like mirth, but she had been under so much stress he decided his first impression could not be correct.
“You’ll achieve pancakes?”
“I do not see why not,” he said.
“Have you ever achieved them before?” she asked. A touch of liveliness came back into her vivid eyes and they sparkled.
“That question is irrelevant,” he told her, while his eyes narrowed in suspicion on her tired face. On a Djinn, her expression would definitely be laughter. “I will achieve pancakes now.”
The chemistry between Grace and Khalil is apparent right from the start, but the relationship is slow to evolve. Grace’s insecurities and Khalil’s inhumanity are a huge hurdle to overcome. Grace is at a loss at how to deal with Khalil, often forgetting that he is also on unfamiliar ground. She doesn’t see how this gorgeous, unforgettable man could ever be interested in her.
Ms. Harrison does a wonderful job of allowing Grace and Khaill to get to know one another and that makes their romance so much more believable.
How could someone that wild and regal, that immortal and pure, be interested in someone as flawed and uninteresting as her? He was a prince of his kind, while she didn’t even know what the term prince meant to them. She was the antithesis of her own name, graceless, churlish and rough.She fingered her chapped knuckles, and her throat ached when she tried to swallow. She hadn’t hurt him. She hadn’t been important enough to hurt him.
Khaill also suffers misgivings, in that while djinn’s often take human lovers, the enchantment wears off quickly because humans don’t last long in their world. But he can’t stop the emotions that Grace and the children invoke in him. He finds himself willing to to do anything to be with them, even if it costs him everything.
He had once believed he knew desire, from the things he had witnessed and the lovers he had taken. Desire, he had thought, was an artifice, an educated exchange in pleasure. The roar of agonized hunger he now felt seared him. There was nothing of artifice in this. It was raw and edged, and he barely held it in control.
If you enjoy a sexy, laughter filled paranormal romance about an addictive couple who literally argue their way into love, then look no further than Thea Harrison’s newest entrant in the Elder Series.