cover image Light of the Moon

Light of the Moon

Luanne Rice, . . Bantam, $25 (386pp) ISBN 978-0-553-80511-6

Rice continues to explore mother-daughter dynamics and themes of religion and destiny in her serviceable latest (after What Matters Most ). Anthropologist Susannah Connolly, encouraged by her mentor Professor Helen Oakes, travels to the Camargue region in southern France for research and to fulfill a promise to Susannah's recently deceased mother to visit a statue of Sarah, a religious figure of the Romany people whose power supposedly helped Susannah's parents conceive their only daughter. Filled with guilt that she was far away at work when her mother died, Susannah is taunted and branded as indifferent by her former flame Ian Stewart, an ambitious colleague who creepily follows her to France and tries to persuade her to marry him. But after Grey, a French horse rancher, saves Susannah from big trouble in a marsh, their chemistry sizzles in tired prose (“Susannah was different from anyone he'd ever known”) as Grey, whose wife left him five years earlier, agonizes about bringing a new woman into his family. While the story provides some intrigue (a group of Romany women connected to Grey's wife take Susannah into their confidence), the narrative is maddeningly repetitive and the lovey-dovey passages dull. All of Rice's hallmarks are present, though this time out they don't pop. (Feb.)