Friday, December 30, 2011

Moonlight and Oranges by Elise Stephens

Release Date: November 2011

Moonlight and Oranges is Stephens' debut novel about a modern-day romance based on Greek mythology's very own Cupid and Psyche.

Beautiful, 20-something Lorona Connelly attends a raving Halloween party with her best friend, but feels instantly out of place outside of her usually sheltered and bookish environment. Shortly after arriving to the party, Lorona is confronted by sexy ladies' man Kestrin Feather, who feels mysteriously compelled to protect this fragile, bookish girl from a throng of seemingly vindictive party-goers. After sharing a vodka screwdriver, Lorona and Kestrin kiss, and sparks fly.

Hours after their magical kiss, Lorona and Kestrin can't seem to shake off their cravings for orange juice - and each other. Finding their way back to each other with the help of mutual friends, and now passionately in love (lust?), Lorona and Kestrin enter quickly into marriage without knowing much about each other's pasts. When Lorona finds and reads Kestrin's secret journal that contains entries about a woman he is destined to marry, Lorona leaves him in a fit of rage, assuming he wrote the entries to trick women into his bed. And so the melodrama continues, until Lorona and Kestrin submit to their destiny, and finally settle on happily ever after - and each other.

A book reviewer's purpose is to analyze and review the book for what it is; NOT for what it could have been, which is a common mistake made by many bloggers and reviewers. I will deviate from this rule for this one instance to state that Moonlight and Oranges would have made much more sense (and perhaps would have been more enjoyable) had Stephens' Author's Note been placed at the beginning of the novel, rather than at the end.

Had I known ahead of time that Moonlight and Oranges was a modern-day retelling of Cupid and Psyche, I would have taken a lighter approach to the story. With Greek mythology not exactly being a personal interest of mine at any point, the novel made no logical sense to me, and I was appalled by the characters and their actions. I'm not a fan of Shakespeare either, however, I still enjoy literary parodies and movies that are based on his works, mainly because I know going into them that they are not meant to be taken too seriously.

Entering into a marriage after a few days, weeks, or even months with a person you hardly know based on intuition, attraction, and lust and expecting it to work like magic just doesn't work in real life. I'm not being cynical or pessimistic here, but it's actually just hehavioral science, plain and simple. Even those without tons of dating experience know that the lust and honeymoon phase wears off after time, and to make a relationship work, you need commitment.

Why do I digress into this particular tirade? Because it makes me nervous to think that young adults and teens could read this book and be charmed by the relationship between Lorona and Kestrin, as there is nothing charming, magical, or awesome about it.

Clearly Lorona was not ready for marriage and commitment, seeing as she left Kestrin in a heartbeat and like a true coward without even taking the time to speak directly with Kestrin about the journal. Then of course, if Lorona had been a mature adult and faced Kestrin responsibly, there probably wouldn't have been a story.

Aside from the marriage and commitment flaws, the characters' personalities are extremely entertaining because they think of themselves as world-weary souls (in their 20s!), yet are incredibly immature; Kestrin with his "many, many years" as a womanizer and being tired of the scene (sure thing, James Bond), and Lorona with her "many, many years" leading a sheltered, quiet life. Apparently without ever having tasted a vodka screwdriver, either.

I definitely do not recommend Moonlight and Oranges to young adults or teens, especially with marriage being glorified, and then cast aside so easily when one of the partners decides she doesn't like what she reads in a lame journal.

I DO, however, recommend Moonlight and Oranges to mature, adult readers who are true fans of Greek mythology and understand that the novel is loosely based on the story of Cupid and Psyche.

Readers who enjoyed Moonlight and Oranges may also like A Writer's Love Story by Robert Wacaster.



  1. This book has a pretty cover, but it sounds like it sucks! Oh well, at least the author was courageous and brave and wrote it anyways. I've got to give her that.

  2. This review is everything I felt after reading it. I definitely agree that the Author's Note should have been at the beginning. The Cupid and Psyche myth is actually one of my favorites (I completely read this by chance), but as I read the book not knowing it was based off the myth, I felt entirely thrown off by everything that you described above that was wrong with it. Once I read the Note, it suddenly clicked why the characters acted in those ways. Because you really don't get a good understanding of the characters and their drives that lead them to do all of those silly things (especially Kestrin's mother). The characters were, in a sense, forced to act those ways in order to conform to the original myth. It's sad, but the story just doesn't hold up on its own.

  3. Thank you for your comments, Anonymous readers!

    Anonymous #2: I'm pleased to see that you agree with the "Note" aspect! My experience with this novel would have been entirely different had I been made aware ahead of time that the story was based on the myth!

    Take care, and happy reading!


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