by Karen Robards

May 1998
ISBN: 0-380-75437-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

At age 7, Caitlyn O'Malley had to grow up fast when her mother died forcing her to live life in the streets of Dublin. Caitlyn kept her promise to her mother to disguise herself as a boy in order to keep herself safe and for 8 years she lived as the lad O'Malley, scrapping for every bit of food she could find, living wherever she could find shelter. When Caitlyn attempts to rob what appears to be one of the wealthy, hated Englishmen, she finds herself getting more than she bargained for as the Englishman turns out to be Irish, and not the easy prey she suspected him to be.

Connor d'Arcy, Earl of Iveagh, has a kind heart. He sees a bit of himself in the young O'Malley and offers him a job herding sheep at his farm in the country. Caitlyn is not used to being treated with kindness and although she is wary of Connor's intentions, she decides to accept a chance to live a life off the streets, with regular meals. Inevitably, her masquerade as a boy is discovered and Connor and his 3 brothers are shocked at the beautiful young woman Caitlyn is revealed to be.

Caitlyn blossoms under Connor's protective care and worships him with all the love she has never had a chance to bestow on anyone since her mother died. However, Connor sees her as a child even though Caitlyn tries her best to prove herself a woman in his eyes. Connor's brothers are very aware of Caitlyn as a woman and when life at their farm becomes disrupted because of rivalry over her, Connor is forced to take another look at the woman she has become.

Unfortunately, just when Caitlyn and Connor discover their love for one another and happiness looms on the horizon, Caitlyn is forced to betray Connor to his enemy and remain with him in order to save Connor's life.

Even though Caitlyn was young, she has wisdom beyond her years from her life on the street. She uses her temper to hide behind the fear she feels at times and her displays of it are often very amusing. Despite her sometimes nasty disposition, Connor sees Caitlyn for whom she truly is - a kind, loving person who has been starving for affection.

Connor has also had to grow up before his time. He was left to care for his 3 younger brothers at a young age and take on responsibilities beyond what an adolescent should have. He also took it upon himself to financially help out the Irish who have been struggling in poverty under English rule when he can barely provide for his own family and even though he is an Earl, Connor is not afraid of hard work or of getting his hands dirty. His many esteeming qualities make it easy for Caitlyn to fall in love with him.

There is just enough suspense scattered throughout the book and at the end for me to be on the edge of my seat and to keep me turning the pages. The villain is easy to hate and his plot to keep Connor and Caitlyn apart is very well thought out. There was not any instance where I felt Caitlyn could have gotten out of his scheme or that there were any holes in the storyline.

Karen Robards has long been one of my favorite authors and once again with Dark Of The Moon, I am reminded what an excellent storyteller she is. I was captivated by Caitlyn's trials and antics and my heart was warmed by Connor's efforts to keep his family together and protect them. Their love seemed genuine and very believable and the passion between them lit up the pages. I would recommend Dark Of The Moon to any fan of historical romance.

Reviewed in October 2001 by Nicole.

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