Berkley, Feb 2010, $7.99
The Romans called them Picts, but the Chrechte realized they had to adapt or become extinct as the human race multiplied much more rapidly. They became Highlander clan leaders, but were betrayed by the Scottish king. Their survivors took control of Celtic clans but these shapeshifters hide their animal nature from the humans they lead.
Scottish King David arranges a new bride for clan leader Tulorc, who rejected the last English one, Emily Hamilton. Tulorc agrees, but insists the marriage occurs in Scotland. When Tulorc and his fiancée Abigail meet she hides her deafness from him. She assumes once he learns she is imperfect he will send her to her beloved sister Emily. They exchange vows Chrechte style, but Tulorc says they will make love when they reach clan land. When they make love, he hides his wolf from her while she conceals her deafness. They make love again and he is shocked as he hears Abigail shout his name in mindspeak; she hears him too. He knows she is his true mate but when he learns of her affliction, he angrily howls betrayal like his stepmother did while his fiercest supporters insist Abigail is a warrior hiding her weakness.
The historical werewolf spin that is the underlying premise of the Children of the Moon saga is cleverly designed so that the readers will believe in the Chrechte. The return of the lead characters from Moon Awakening in critical support roles is a welcome addition, but the tale belongs to a strong heroine who as Barr the warrior says compensates for her deafness like a great soldier should. Although the lack of a strong villain limits the tension to hiding secrets between the lead couple, fans will enjoy this fine medieval romantic fantasy.