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Blue Moon (Nightcreature Series #1)

Blue Moon (Nightcreature Series #1)

3.9 89
by Lori Handeland
     
 

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Miniwa, Wisconsin is under siege, but not by the usual summer tourists. The area's normally shy wolf population has begun stalking human prey, and their victims have been disappearing...or worse. Something is happening in the woods. Something brutal and primitive...

Officer Jessie McQuade has seen plenty in her years on the force-but nothing as intriguing as

Overview

Miniwa, Wisconsin is under siege, but not by the usual summer tourists. The area's normally shy wolf population has begun stalking human prey, and their victims have been disappearing...or worse. Something is happening in the woods. Something brutal and primitive...

Officer Jessie McQuade has seen plenty in her years on the force-but nothing as intriguing as the gorgeous, naked man she encounters while tracking a rogue wolf. Professor Will Cadotte is a Native American activist. He's also the only man capable of distracting Jessie from her work. And for a cop, distraction-no matter how pleasurable-can be deadly. It's against Jessie's better judgment to accept Will's help in her investigation, yet she soon finds herself doing exactly that-and more. Will's dark, penetrating eyes see into a part of Jessie's soul she never knew existed. It's exhilarating...and terrifying.
Now, as a town's deepest secrets come to light, no one is safe: not friends, lovers, or strangers. And as Jessie follows a bloody trail to the shocking truth, she'll have to decide who she can trust when the moon is full...

Lori Handeland's Blue Moon is the winner of a 2005 RITA Award.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sassy, wisecracking policewoman Jessie McQuade, the book's first-person narrator, takes readers on a thrilling hunt through the forests of smalltown Miniwa, Wis., in search of a mythical predator in this lively paranormal romance. No-nonsense Jessie has never believed in magic or other supernatural "woo woo," but when she sees schoolteacher Karen Larson turn rabid in the classroom and attempt to bite one of her students shortly after being bitten by a wolf herself, she begins to realize that the world is not just black and white but "a host of annoying shades of gray." Before long, she's tramping through the forest with a self-professed werewolf hunter by her side and lusty thoughts of gorgeous professor Will Cadote, an expert in Native American mythology, racing through her mind. The enigmatic professor may be able to help Jessie figure out why the onyx wolf totem she found on the road near where Karen was bitten is so important, but it's possible he may be a werewolf himself. Handeland (The Husband Quest, etc.) sets a feverish pace, thrusting Jessie into one dangerous situation after another, and she keeps readers in delicious suspense over Will's motives. What makes this book so compulsively readable, however, is Jessie's spunky narration, acerbic wit and combustible chemistry with Will. (Oct.) Forecast: Handeland has the potential to become as big as, if not bigger than, Christine Feehan and Maggie Shayne, both of whom praise this book enthusiastically in their cover blurbs. The next installment, Hunter's Moon, is excerpted here. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"BLUE MOON is fantastic-one of the best books I've read in a long, long time. Anyone who reads paranormal will love this book and anyone who loves suspense should love it as well. It's an edge-of-the-seat read." -Christine Feehan, author of Dark Melody

"Chilling and sizzling by turns! Lori Handeland has the kind of talent that comes along only once in a blue moon. Her sophisticated, edgy voice sets her apart from the crowd, making her an author to watch, and BLUE MOON a novel not to be missed."-Maggie Shayne, author of Edge of Twilight

"Presenting an interesting and modern twist on the werewolf legend, Lori Handeland's Blue Moon is an intriguing mixture of suspense, clever humor, and sensual tension that never lets up. Vivid secondary characters in a rural, small-town setting create an effective backdrop for paranormal events. Will Cadotte is a tender and sexy hero who might literally be worth dying for. But the real revelation in the book is Handeland's protagonist, police officer Jessie McQuade, a less-than-perfect heroine who is at once self-deprecating, tough, witty, pragmatic and vulnerable. She draws you into the story and holds you there until the very end." Susan Krinard, author of To Catch A Wolf

"Scary sexy fun. A book this clever only comes along once in a Blue Moon" -Rachel Gibson, author of Daisy's Back In Town

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429905152
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/01/2010
Series:
Nightcreature Series , #1
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
73,821
File size:
365 KB

Read an Excerpt

Blue Moon


By Lori Handeland

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2004 Lori Handeland
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-0515-2


CHAPTER 1

The summer I discovered the world was not black-and-white — the way I liked it — but a host of annoying shades of gray was the summer a lot more changed than my vision.

However, on the night the truth began I was still just another small-town cop — bored, cranky, waiting, even wishing, for something to happen. I learned never to be so open-ended in my wishes again.

The car radio crackled. "Three Adam One, what's your ten-twenty?"

"I'm watching the corn grow on the east side of town."

I waited for the imminent spatter of profanity from the dispatcher on duty. I wasn't disappointed.

"You'd think it was a goddamned full moon. I swear those things bring out every nut cake in three counties."

My lips twitched. Zelda Hupmen was seventy-five if she was a day. A hard-drinking, chain-smoking throwback to the good times when such a lifestyle was commonplace and the fact it would kill you still a mystery.

Obviously Zelda had yet to hear the scientific findings, since she was going to outlive everyone by smoking unfiltered Camels and drinking Jim Beam for breakfast.

"Maybe the crazies are just gearing up for the blue moon we've got coming."

"What in living hell is a blue moon?"

The reason Zee was still working third shift after countless years on the force? Her charming vocabulary.

"Two full moons in one month makes a blue moon on the second course. Very rare. Very powerful. If you're into that stuff."

Living in the north woods of Wisconsin, elbow to elbow with what was left of the Ojibwe nation, I'd heard enough woo-woo legends to last a lifetime.

They always pissed me off. I lived in a modern world where legends had no place except in the history books. To do my job, I needed facts. In Miniwa, depending on who you talked to, facts and fiction blurred together too close for my comfort.

Zee's snort of derision turned into a long, hacking cough. I waited, ever patient, for her to regain her breath.

"Powerful my ass. Now get yours out to Highway One-ninety-nine. We got trouble, girl."

"What kind of trouble?" I flicked on the red lights, considered the siren.

"Got me. Cell call — lots of screaming, lots of static. Brad's on his way."

I had planned to inquire about the second officer on duty, but, as usual, Zee answered questions before they could even be asked. Sometimes she was spookier than anything I heard or saw on the job.

"It'll take him a while," she continued. "He was at the other end of the lake, so you'll be first on the scene. Let me know what happens."

Since I'd never found screaming to be good news, I stopped considering the siren and sped my wailing vehicle in the direction of Highway 199.

The Miniwa PD consisted of myself, the sheriff, and six other officers, plus Zee and an endless array of young dispatchers — until summer, when the force swelled to twenty because of the tourists.

I hated summer. Rich fools from Southern cities traveled the two-lane highway to the north to sit on their butt next to a lake and fry their skin the shade of fuchsia agony. Their kids shrieked, their dogs ran wild, they drove their boats too fast and their minds too slow, but they came into town and spent their easy money in the bars, restaurants, and junk shops.

As annoying as the tourist trade was for a cop, the three months of torture kept Miniwa on the map. According to my calendar, we had just entered week three of hell.

I came over a hill and slammed on my brakes. A gas-sucking, lane-hogging luxury SUV was parked crosswise on the dotted yellow line. A single headlight blazed; the other was a gaping black hole.

Why the owner hadn't pulled the vehicle onto the shoulder I had no idea. But then, I'd always suspected the majority of the population were too stupid to live.

I inched my squad car off the road, positioning my lights on the vehicle. Leaving the red dome flashing, I turned off the siren. The resulting hush was as deafening as the shrill wail had been.

The clip of my boots on the asphalt made a lonely, ghostly sound. If my headlights hadn't illuminated the hazy outline of a person in the driver's seat, I'd have believed I was alone, so deep was the silence, so complete the stillness of the night.

"Hello?" I called.

No response. Not a hint of movement.

I hurried around the front of the car, taking in the pieces of the grille and one headlight splayed across the pavement. For a car that cost upward of $40,000 it sure broke into pieces easily enough.

That's what I liked about the department's custom-issue Ford Crown Victoria. The thing was built like a tank, and it drove like one, too. Other cities might have switched over to SUVs, but Miniwa stuck with the tried and true.

Sure, four-wheel drive was nice, but sandbags in the trunk and chains on the tires worked just as well. Besides, nothing had an engine like my CV. I could catch damn near anyone driving that thing, and she didn't roll if I took a tight curve.

"Miniwa PD," I called as I skirted the fender of the SUV.

My gaze flicked over the droplets of blood that shone black beneath the silver moonlight. They trailed off toward the far side of the road. I took a minute to check the ditch for any sign of a wounded animal or human being, but there was nothing.

Returning to the car, I yanked open the door and blinked to find a woman behind the wheel. In my experience men drove these cars — or soccer moms. I saw no soccer balls, no kids, no wedding ring. Hmm.

"Are you all right?"

She had a bump on her forehead and her eyes were glassy. Very young and very blond — the fairy princess type — she was too petite to be driving a vehicle of this size, but — I gave a mental shrug — it was a free country.

The airbag hadn't deployed, which meant the car was a piece of shit or she hadn't been going very fast when she'd hit ... whatever it was she'd hit.

I voted on the latter, since she wasn't lying on the pavement shredded from the windshield. The bump indicated she hadn't been wearing her seat belt. Shame on her. A ticketing offense in this state, but a little hard to prove after the fact.

"Ma'am," I tried again when she continued to stare at me without answering. "Are you all right? What's your name?"

She raised her hand to her head. There was blood dripping down her arm. I frowned. No broken glass, except on the front of the car, which appeared to be more plastic than anything else. How had she cut herself?

I grabbed the flashlight from my belt and trained it on her arm. Something had taken a bite-sized chunk out of the skin between her thumb and her wrist.

"What did you hit, ma'am?"

"Karen." Her eyes were wide, pupils dilated; she was shocky. "Karen Larson."

Right answer, wrong question. The distant wail of a siren sliced through the cool night air, and I permitted myself a sigh of relief. Help was on the way.

Since the nearest hospital was a forty-minute drive, Miniwa made do with a small general practice clinic for everything but life-threatening crises. Even so, the clinic was on the other end of town, a good twenty minutes over dark, deserted roads. Brad could transport Miss Larson while I finished up here.

But first things first. I needed to move her vehicle out of the road before someone, if not Brad, plowed into us. Thank God Highway 199 at 3:00 A.M. was not a hotbed of traffic, or there'd be more glass and blood on the pavement.

"Ma'am? Miss Larson, we need to move. Slide over."

She did as I ordered, like a child, and I quickly parked her car near mine. Planning to retrieve my first-aid kit and do some minor cleaning and repairs — perhaps bandage her up just enough to keep the blood off the seats — I paused, half in and half out of the car, when she answered my third question as late as the second.

"Wolf. I hit a wolf."

A litany of Zee's favorites ran through my head. The wolves were becoming a problem. They followed the food, and with the deer herds increasing in alarming numbers despite the generosity of the Department of Natural Resources with hunting licenses, the wolves had multiplied along with their prey. The wolves were not typically aggressive; however, if they were wounded or rabid, typical did not apply.

"Did it bite you, ma'am?"

I knew the answer, but I had to ask. For the record.

She nodded. "I-I thought it was a dog."

"Damn big dog," I muttered.

"Yes. Damn big," she repeated. "It ran right in front of my car. I couldn't stop. Black like the night. Chasing, chasing —" She frowned, then moaned as if the effort of the thought was too much for her poor head.

"How did you get bitten?"

"I thought it was dead."

A good rule to remember when dealing with wild animals and soap opera villains? They usually aren't dead — even when everyone thinks that they are.

"Ma'am, I'm just going to check your license and registration, okay?"

She nodded in the same zoned-out manner she'd had all along. I didn't smell alcohol, but even so, she'd be checked for that and drugs at the clinic.

I quickly rifled her wallet. Yep, Karen Larson. The registration in the glove compartment proved she owned the car. All my ducks were in a row, just the way I liked them.

Brad arrived at last. Young, eager, he was one of the summer cops, which meant he wasn't from here. Who knows what he did during the other nine months of the year. From the looks of him he lifted weights and worked on his tan beneath an artificial sun. Having dealt with Brad before, I was of the opinion he'd fried his brain along with his skin. But he was competent enough to take Miss Larson to the clinic.

I met him halfway between his car and hers. "We've got a wolf bite." I had no time for chitchat. Not that I would have bothered even if I did. "Get her to the clinic. I'm going to see if I can find the wolf."

He laughed. "Right, Jessie. You're gonna catch a wolf, in the middle of the night, in these woods. And it'll be the particular wolf you're searching for."

That's why Brad was a summer cop and I was an all-through-the-year cop. I had a brain and I wasn't afraid to use it.

"Call me silly," I pointed at the blood, plastic, and fiberglass on the pavement, "but that's gonna leave a mark. If I find a wolf with a fender- sized dent, I'll just arrest him. Who knows, we might be able to avoid rabies shots for our victim."

Brad blinked. "Oh."

"Yeah. 'Oh.' Can you call Zee, tell her what happened, have her inform the DNR?"

"Why?"

I resisted the urge to thump him upside the head. Maybe I'd shake some sense loose, but I doubted it. "Standard procedure when dealing with wolves is to call the hunting and fishing police."

"Do we have to?"

Though I shared his sentiments — no one around here had much use for the Department of Natural Resources — rules were rules.

The wolf had been an endangered species in Wisconsin until 1999, when the classification was changed to threatened. Recently they had increased in number to the point where they were delisted. Which meant problems — like rabies — could be handled under certain conditions by certain people. If I had to shoot a wolf tonight, I wanted to do so with my butt already covered.

"Yes," I snapped. "We have to. Have Zee get someone else out here to secure, then measure this scene." I patted the walkie-talkie on my belt. "I'll be in touch."

"But — Uh, I was thinking ... Maybe, um, I should, uh, you know ..." His uncertain gaze flicked toward the trees, then back to me.

"I know. And you shouldn't."

Think. Ever. My mind mocked, but I had learned a few things in my twenty-six years, and one of them was to keep my smart-ass mind's comments to myself. Mostly.

"I've lived here all my life, Brad. I'm the best hunter on the force."

A fact that did not endear me to many of the guys I worked with. I couldn't recall the last time I hadn't taken top prize in the Big Buck contests run by the taverns every fall. Still Brad appeared uneasy at letting me wander off alone into the darkness.

"Relax," I soothed. "I know these woods. You don't."

Without waiting for further argument, I went in after the wolf.

CHAPTER 2

I'd learned to follow a blood trail before I grew breasts.

Not from my father. No. He disappeared right about the time I uttered the word Da-da. I should have kept my mouth shut. But that was nothing new.

My mother was, make that is, a true girlie-girl. She never knew what to make of a daughter who preferred to play with boys, shoot guns, and get dirty. She still doesn't.

I was a wild child. Not her fault, though she blames herself. I don't think I turned out too bad. I'm a cop, not a delinquent. That has to be good for something.

Except my mother's approval. I gave up on that a long time ago.

I don't hear much from her these days. If she couldn't have the perfect daughter, she'd hoped for perfect grandchildren — as if she'd get them from me. Marriage and family aren't high on my list of priorities.

Oh, wait — they aren't on the list at all.

I had no doubt Miss Larson's wolf was long gone; still I couldn't just give up without trying. It wasn't in me.

Following a blood trail through the dark was a neat trick, one I'd picked up from my best friend in the sixth grade, Craig Simmons, who'd learned it from his best friend in the fifth grade, George Standwater.

The Indian kids didn't mix much with the white kids, and vice versa, despite any smiley-faced propaganda to the contrary. Once in a while a few became friends, but it never lasted long. The adults, on both sides, took care of that.

I'll never forget how awful Craig felt when his parents told him he couldn't see George anymore. Kind of how I felt, I'm sure, when Craig decided he'd rather play with girls in the Biblical sense and he no longer had any need for a friend-girl like Jessie McQuade.

With a near audible whoosh, the forest closed in around me, leaving the civilized world of cars, electric lights, and roads behind. Beneath the canopy of the evergreens and birch trees I could barely see the stars. That's how a lot of losers got lost.

I'd learned in my years on the force that quite a few more people disappeared than the public ever heard about. Miniwa was no exception. Folks walked into the woods on a regular basis and never came out.

Not me. I had my flashlight, my gun, and my compass. I could stay out here for days and find my way home, too, even without the antiquated walkie-talkie.

The machine chose that moment to crackle, so I shut if off. All I needed was to get close to the wolf and have Zee cuss a blue streak through the receiver. I'd have one chance, if that, and I wasn't going to blow it.

I wished momentarily for a rifle. With a pistol I'd have to get awfully close, but we didn't keep long-range firearms in the squad cars. They were all locked up safe and tight back at the station — where they were of no use to me at all.

The blood trail veered right, then left, then right again. Nearing three- quarter size, the moon was blaring bright. The kind of night most animals kept to the forest, spooked into hiding by the shiny disc in the sky. Except for the wolves. They seemed to like it.

Tonight, I liked it, too. Because the silver sheen bounced off a glistening splotch on the ground here, a leaf there. That the blood was still wet gave me hope my quarry might not be too far ahead. The wolf could even be dead, which would solve a whole lot of problems.

Still, I kept my gun handy. I knew better than to follow a wounded wild animal without protection.

The breeze ruffled the short length of my hair and I paused, lifted my face to the night, then cursed. I was upwind. If the wolf wasn't dead, he knew I was coming.

A howl split the night, rising on the breeze, sifting through the darkness, and fleeing toward the moon. Not the soulful sound of a lonely animal searching for a mate, but the furious, aggressive wail of a dominant male, which caused the back of my neck to tingle.

He knew I was coming, and he was ready.

My adrenaline kicked in. I wanted to move faster. Get there. Fight, not flee. Finish this. But I had to follow the blood, and that hadn't gotten any easier.

Then, suddenly, the trail was gone. I backtracked. Located the blood again. Moved forward, found nothing.

My wolf seemed to have disappeared into thin air. Uneasy, I glanced up at the swaying silhouettes of the trees. A laugh escaped, the sound more nervous than amused. What kind of wolf could climb a tree? Not one that I wanted to meet.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Blue Moon by Lori Handeland. Copyright © 2004 Lori Handeland. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Lori Handeland is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Nightcreature Novels, The Phoenix Chronicles and Shakespeare Undead. She is the recipient of many industry awards, including two RITA awards, a Romantic Times Award for Best Harlequin Superromance, and the Prism Award from Romance Writers of America. She lives in Wisconsin with her family and a yellow lab named Ellwood.


Lori Handeland is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Nightcreature Novels, including Moon Cursed and Crave the Moon, as well as The Phoenix Chronicles and Shakespeare Undead. She is the recipient of many industry awards, including two RITA awards, a Romantic Times Award for Best Harlequin Superromance, and the Prism Award from Romance Writers of America. She lives in Wisconsin with her family and a yellow lab named Ellwood.

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Blue Moon (Nightcreature Series #1) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 89 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Mimiwa, Wisconsin, police officer Jessie McQuade investigates a car accident between Karen Larson and a wolf that apparently bit the teacher. As Karen is rushed to the hospital, Jessie searches the woods until she runs into a naked man living in a nearby cabin. He offers her nothing new on her case except a desire to make love with him. Jessie does find a small totem at the accident site. The next day Karen goes berserk at school forcing Sheriff Clyde Johnston to kill her. Jessie realizes that rabies takes three months to incubate in people so wonders what really happened. On a hunch she takes the totem to Mimiwa University where she meets visiting expert Will Cadotte, the naked man from the night before. He is stunned by the totem who says he belongs to the wolf clan that uses these artifacts, but this one is different. It is that of an auwishuk, an evil Manitou. As Jessie struggles with a supernatural evil truth, she and Will fall in love, but as the evidence piles up she wonders if she can trust the professor. BLUE MOON is an exciting werewolf romance starring the ultimate disbeliever and the ¿perfect¿ counterpoint to prove that sometimes there are strange phenomena beyond the norm. The who-done-it is cleverly drawn enhanced by deep secondary characters, some of whom are on the wrong side of the American law (who knows what the law is on the other side). Still, it is the match up of the lead duo that makes for a howling time for those who read this entertaining paranormal police procedural romance. Harriet Klausner
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I really loved this book. Lori Handeland did such an amazing job. If you really love werewolves, then this is the book for you. It can be read as a stand alone work, but you'll love it so much, you'll want to read the others.
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gnell More than 1 year ago
the characters are interesting and the twist is great. read to find out what it is.
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