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The author of Suspense, Romantic Suspense and Paranormal Romance novels, Karen L. McKee resides on the west coast of Canada caught between the ocean, the mountains, the rain and the moss-covered trees. Her frequent travels and her desire to understand other cultures often becomes the centerpiece in her writing.
Karen loves the outdoors and photography. Her biggest regret as a writer is that crafting believable characters, and settings in far flung places, doesn't involve more exercise.
on Sep. 20, 2011 :
I really enjoyed this book, on many levels. It was well written and a great story, but it was also a beautiful setting that was intriguing and made me want to study Burmese folklore. It's NOT your usual fare, whatever that is - unless you read more of this author's work. I recommend it!
(reviewed 27 days after purchase)
Wonder Realms Books
on Jan. 10, 2011 :
Amazing writing. Lyrical, full of passion and suspense. I couldn't put it down.
(reviewed 35 days after purchase)
Soul's Road Press
on Dec. 29, 2010 :
Interesting, multifaceted heroine? Check! Complex, tortured hero? Check! Steamy, exotic locale and unusual, captivating history/mythology? Check and check!
Tired of reading romances set in the same ol' places and the same ol' paranormal elements? Then snap this book up! McKee knows Burma, and deftly draws readers into the lush landscape and fascinating mythos.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)
Gerald M. Weinberg
on Dec. 18, 2010 :
Review of Shades of Moonlight,
by Karen L. McKee
reviewed by Gerald M. Weinberg:
As a man, I used to wonder why women read romance novels. As a writer, I read a few to find the answer, but I was puzzled. They all seemed to follow a simple plot formula: lonely girl, hunky guy; meet cute; attraction; problems; problems solved; consummation. As long as the writing was cleverly funny, this formula seemed sufficient for the romantic comedies,. But I still failed to understand "serious" romances.
All that changed when I read Laura Kinsale's Flowers From the Storm. I began to see how a romance could elevate itself above the common crowd if it possessed three things: a detailed and fascinating realistic setting; characters with personal depth; and a plot that moved with engaging energy. Karen L. McKee's Shades of Moonlight possesses all three.
First, there's her luscious painting of the steamy background in Pagan, Burma, a background she provides with captivating detail. As one of the characters says, “I swear it’s this whole damned place. Pagan. Even the name spells trouble. Change the pronunciation and you have something beyond accepted religions.”
Second, she populates this landscape with a group of research anthropologists–an occupation with which I'm intimately familiar. My wife, Dani, like McKee's protagonist, Kalla Jervis, is a cultural anthropologist (and I used to play on the University of Michigan's Anthropology football team). I have many friends who McKee has modeled perfectly in Kalla and her surrounding cast.
Third, the fast-moving plot contains two romances in one--no, three: Two living couples, and one spirit couple occupying them and attempting to take control in order to save the entire culture of Burma. More than that, there are stories within the story–wonderful stories from nuns and monks that Kalla has come to Burma to capture, seeking to learn what felled this once-great civilization.
One of the characters describes the heroine this way: "Kalla—she’s a powerhouse—brilliant—gifted in her work, though she’s sort of stepped back from her career in the last while." She's also paranoid, which may be justified, because she is confronting "nats," spirits who take control of persons and make them do things they would not otherwise do. Yet through most of the story, Kalla rejects the idea that nats are real, let alone that they possess the man who she comes to love.
But ultimately, she also becomes possessed, and so she holds the fate of a country, a people, in her hands. What does she do with this responsibility? I'll leave that for the reader to discover in the thrilling climax.
(reviewed 13 days after purchase)
on Dec. 11, 2010 :
Have you ever been faced with something you couldn’t explain? Couldn’t possibly believe? This is Kalla Jervis’ plight. A scientist who has never believed in the paranormal in any form—be it ghosts, gods, spirits of any kind—is collecting stories in a world where gods and spirits are intertwined with the culture and her own life.
Burma and its ancient culture is as much a character in this story as Kalla or Simon. The author has clearly traveled to this mysterious land, now known by some as Myanmar. She has captured the sight, the smells, the oppressive humidity, along with its mysteries in this tale of self-discovery and acceptance.
Though there is a love story in this novel, it is not the prime story. Kalla is not easy to like or to love. The reader must get beyond Kalla’s extreme need to be always in control—a need that drives her away from anyone who care’s for her and drives her to make what seems to be decisions and take actions that no scientist or sane person would make. But then most people are not possessed by a Nat—a spirit that fights for control of the human body and tries to return to live a life cut short in the past.
There are many levels of reading to enjoy in this novel. First, is to read the novel and learn more about Burma, it’s history, and the Nat worship which was fascinating. This worship predates Buddhism in Burma, and among some people the beliefs have merged with Buddhism—the primary religion in the country. Second, is to read the novel as a coming of age story. Even though Kalla is an adult and a well-known scientist, like many people her past has stunted her emotionally. She fights heartily against change, even in the face of overwhelming odds. If the reader will stick with it, the reward of Kalla’s transformation will be delivered. Finally, one can read the novel as a love story. However, this is not a typical love story as the lovers already difficult relationship is complicated by spirit possession. For most of the book the reader can see no way this will end well. Again, stick with it and the reward will be worthwhile.
There are 37 major spirits (nats) in this religion. One can only wonder if this author plans to write a story about each one. If so, I'm interested in the next book.
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)