MOONLIGHT MASQUERADE – Jude Deveraux
Moonlight Trilogy , Book 3
The Italics are a quote from an earlier review:
MOONLIGHT MASQUERADE continues the trilogy…' set in the small town in Virginia that is the location of Ms. Deveraux's connected Heartwishes series. The three heroines of this trilogy met in college and became fast friends as well as roommates. All three, Kim, Jecca, and Sophie are artists. They promised to stay in touch after graduation. Kim returned to her home town in Virginia where she designs, makes, and sells her own jewelry. Jecca moved to New York City where she works in an art gallery…her paintings are not selling. Sophie, the budding sculptor, disappeared, and Jecca and Kim have been unable to locate her.'
Jecca's tale was told in January 2012's MOONLIGHT IN THE MORNING. (I gave it a Perfect 10. The next 2 books are just as good, but I found MITM to be especially romantic, and I'm stingy with the P10s.) Kim's adventures are chronicled in September 2012's STRANGER IN THE MOONLIGHT. So here is Sophie's story:
Sophie never told Kim and Jecca about her unhappy early life, and when her mother died just as the three were graduating, she went home to Texas. She found she couldn't leave her twelve year-old sister to the mercies of their lazy, lecherous step-father. She stayed in Texas—often working three jobs—for five years until Lisa went off to college…with Sophie's help. Now she feels an exhilarating sense of freedom that lasts until her boyfriend and lover—the son of the richest man in town—tells her she was just a summer fling, and that he's engaged to someone else. Angry and hurt, Sophie heads for the only place where she might get a welcome, but not before she helps herself to a treasured family object belonging to her former boyfriend's family.
As Sophie heads to Edilean and Kim, her old clunker dies, and she starts walking along the dark highway. She has to leap into the bushes to escape being run down by a BMW, but the treasure and her cell phone get run over. As she nears town, she sees the car parked at a tavern. Still angry with the unfairness of life, she learns who owns the car and dumps a pitcher of beer over his head. Wouldn't you know! The man is Kim's doctor brother who agreed to give Sophie a job. But Sophie does not wait for an introduction…
Dr. Reede Aldredge is filling in for his cousin Tristan for the next two and a half years. He is not happy about being stuck in this little town instead of applying his skills in remote areas of the world where few have ever had medical care. The situation has turned Reede into a first class grouch, well aware that the town much prefers his cousin. As Sophie begins her work as Reede's personal assistant and they speak on the phone, they make a slight connection, but they still haven't met in person, and neither connects the other with the bar incident. Reede is the first to learn of Sophie's identity, and with Halloween coming, he has a chance to woo her without being recognized. The whole town it seems, noting the improvement in his temperament, conspire to keep his secret from her as long as possible.
MOONLIGHT MASQUERADE is lots of fun and moving as well. Both Sophie and Reede have baggage needing to be lightened, and they can help each other. But what will happen when Sophie learns the truth and feels as though she's been the butt of a joke?
One of the things I like best about Ms. Deveraux's writings is that the dialogue and actions tell the story. We feel we're right there witnessing it all. Another thing is the way her characters come alive as individuals as well as furthering the plot. MOONLIGHT MASQUERADE is not only a lovely romance, it also has and exciting side plot or two.
I highly recommend MOONLIGHT MASQUERADE, and if you haven't already, do yourself the favor of reading the earlier two as well.