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A smoldering debut novel exploring the passion, hunger, and danger that can break loose in the moonlight.

From the time she was a child, Mona Lisa knew she was different-but she never knew how different until a man of otherworldly beauty appeared during her night shift in the ER. Gryphon is hurting and hunted and he attracts her as no man ever has before. He is a Monère, one of the children of the moon-and what's more, so is she.

Long exiled from the moon, the men of the Monère serve-and mate-with imperious Queens who can channel the rays of their far-off homeland. Gryphon believes that Mona Lisa is a Queen- perhaps the first of Mixed Blood ever known. But her introduction to the nighttime court of the Monère, simmering with intrigue, casual lust, and calculated cruelty, is far from smooth. The other Queens are infuriated by her potential powers, and they are all menaced by a group of rogue males who have broken away from the women's sway. Even as she battles threats from within and without, Mona Lisa is determined to discover who she is, and to explore the limits of her growing power-and her secret desires.

276 pages, Paperback

First published September 4, 2002

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About the author


76 books617 followers
A family practice physician and Vassar graduate, Sunny was finally pushed into picking up her pen by the success of the rest of her family. Much to her amazement, she found that, by golly, she actually could write a book, and that it was much more fun than being a doctor.

As an author, Sunny has been featured on Geraldo at Large and CNBC, and has won many awards including the prestigious PRISM Award. When she is not busy reading and writing, Sunny is editing her husband’s books, literary novelist Da Chen, and being a happy stage mom for her young actor son.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 328 reviews
Profile Image for Christy Stewart.
Author 12 books301 followers
April 16, 2009
Let me save you some time "I'm a nurse. Look at that patient, he's so hot I creamed my pants. He's all 'I'm not human yada yada, you're a queen' and I'm all 'Ya I know right? Let's do it.'" There, save yourself $7.
Profile Image for Brownbetty.
343 reviews164 followers
June 21, 2009
I grabbed this book from the library because the front said "A terrific debut sure to appeal to fans of Anne Bishop or Laurell K. Hamilton," after which it should be obvious to those who know me why I could not resist it. It delivered on this promise early, when on page 5 we get "My nipples hardened to stone, my inner sheath quivered, and I wanted to go to him." Inner sheath!

But even more to the point, I think, the Anne Bishop comparison is utterly on target. It is as if someone decided that the Black Jewels books were fabulous, but could be slightly less embarrassing to read if they had a little less naked id and talking unicorns. It doesn't aim far above; I'd estimate there's perhaps a 20% reduction in silliness, (It includes shape-shifters from the moon,) but Bishop's books are deeply silly. The set-up is almost directly from Bishop's world, with Queens ruling courts of men who are their lovers and protectors, including the bits about how the men feel an innate desire to serve a worthy queen, and, in fact, there are even "demon-dead" in her books. Lisa is, IMO, less annoying than Janelle, and the book doesn't waste time setting up her innocent victimhood. There is no faffing about with gradations of mystic jewellery, fetishized virginity, silly names (much), and "tangled webs," which I am grateful for. You don't get to use Shakespeare references and then insist that they exist independent of Shakespeare.

Which is why this book's title makes me nuts. You can't call a thing "The Mona Lisa anything" without it meaning to some extent Da Vinci's well known painting. In this book, all Queens are given the title of "mona" and our protagonist is named "Lisa." Just a wacky coincidence! Like, I have named my cheesecake recipe "Mick Jagger's famous cheesecake," and if that causes you to think there is a rockstar associated with it, that's hardly my fault!

Well, okay, in this case it is not so much misleading as highly distracting. But, you know, if you want Queens who are frequently dutifully sexing up their wounded protectors with their magical healing cunts, and just you know, compelled from duty to surround themselves with attractive, protective young men, you may be able to overlook this.
Profile Image for Christina.
209 reviews76 followers
July 15, 2009
I'm going to be straight and say I DON'T understand how this book is a bestseller, let alone how it managed to be published. Penguin, what were you THINKING?

I've been looking for this book for a good year or so. Amazon was too expensive with the Australian exchange rate, and no bookstores seemed to have it. When I managed to find it on Fishpond (the Australian equivalent of Amazon), I was ecstatic.

Utter waste of time.

Mona Lisa is a slice of white bread. Boring, flat and with absolutely no real flaws, characteristics or traits. Rather than respond to situations as herself, she is clearly Sunny's puppet. When Sunny wants her to be meek, she is meek. When Sunny wants her to be sassy, she is sassy. There are no real obstacles Mona Lisa faces, because Mona Lisa can do everything. And everyone is either jealous, in love, or admires her.

Her transition to the Monere world is nonexistent, which to be frank, I call bullshit on. Has Sunny ever read a fantasy novel? A coming-of-age novel? ANY novel? Anyone who is thrown into a new world like Mona Lisa has been would find it difficult to settle and adjust. And how about when Gryphon first arrives? Are you really going to be so BELIEVING of this strange man who tells you about this secret world you've never heard of? Um, no.

Speaking of Gryphon - UGH. I know a great deal of their race is about attraction to their queens, yada yada yada, but come on. They have one night of passion and Mona Lisa is IN LOVE WITH HIM? Attracted, yes. Lusting after, yes. But love, no. I don't believe it. The same goes for Amber. I would not have guessed it if it wasn't for Sunny blatantly telling us that they are in love (and believe me, there is a LOT of telling).

Oh, and info-dumping. Don't even get me started on that.

If you are looking for something of substance: don't bother.
If you are looking for a great whirlwind romance or a fantastic new fantasy world: don't bother.
If you are looking for the next best read because you just finished the Black Jewels Trilogy and Amazon recommended this series: DON'T. BOTHER.
Profile Image for Danika.
103 reviews3 followers
May 10, 2010
Wow. And not in a good way. What a piece of utter crap. When I had picked up the book initially, the fact that it was pretty much stated that the author had drawn 'inspiration' from Anne Bishop, Laurell K. Hamilton, etc I was intrigued. I am a fan of Anne Bishop. I am also a fan of Patricia Briggs, whose blurb appears on the book from a review or statement.

I didn't realize that fanfiction could be published. Oh, sure, it's not actually set in either the Black Jewels world or the Merry Gentry universe but it might as well have been a combination of the two. Inspiration is fine.

It was, at first, the little things here and there that irked me. Males serve the Queens who run territories. Okay, not exactly an original idea. A healer named Janelle pops up. Okay, coincidence. A character mentions his sister's name: Tersa. Really? Come on. Demon dead? The HIGH LORD OF HELL? Prince Halcyon might as well be Damon Sadi. The phrase "dreams made flesh" was used as well. Really? But even all of that aside...

I have never read a book where the main character was SUCH A MARY-SUE. Not even Twilight. And for those who know of my distaste of that Mary-Sue should realize that I do not state it lightly when I say that Mona Lisa is even worse. She comes from a Tragic Past, conjures up amazing street-fighting and blade-wielding abilities. She has all of the strengths and none of the weaknesses of the Monere, is the first of her kind, blah blah blah. And get this: her brother is a Gary-Stu! No foolin'! He is the first of his kind as well!

The characters are shallow, cardboard cut-outs, with no depth at all to lend to the story to make it interesting. The book is written from a first-person perspective so even having insight into the character's head helps in no way at all. Sex is a commodity yet the main character is somewhat prudish when it comes to most things; she doesn't mind jumping into the sack with someone within hours of meeting him but heaven forbid someone see her cleavage or witness her nudity or even what someone will think of her for having two lovers. Excuse me while I scratch my head in utter confusion at the way the character is portrayed. Prudish but doesn't hesitate to screw first (and second?) Monere male she meets. She's kidnapped, she is attacked, she is wounded more times than one can count, she possesses many powers that are not common to her race, she garners the attention of pretty much every male she comes into contact with--pretty much immediately. Did I mention that she has an animal form? She's a Bengal Tiger.

It pains me to realize that I have the next two books in the series through trades/swaps (thank goodness I have not paid out good money for this crap!) and I cannot let books go to waste. I will be reading those as well and choking them down as best I can.

1 star for utter unoriginality.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sammy Loves Books.
1,131 reviews1,436 followers
March 11, 2014

Loved It!! Loved It!! Loved It!!

Darkly erotic, but wow! I absolutely loved this book. I love finding a paranormal series that is refreshingly different. Mona Lisa is an ER Nurse in Manhattan that feels alone in the world. She meets a creature during one of her shifts that changes her life and helps her to understand why she has been different all of her life. She is not only another species, but a born Queen of that species (kinda like a queen bee) that is meant to rule.


This story was absolutely amazing though very dark! Filled with action, heart break, and loyalty that is so intense. Mona Lisa is a strong female that grows into an amazing inspiring leader. She faces many challenges and protects those she cares for with intense fierceness and love.


I can't recommend this book enough to lovers of the paranormal. Or to anyone that appreciates a strong female, hot yummy shape shifters, and a wild ride. This book is a keeper and a re-reader.

Profile Image for vale pao.
644 reviews358 followers
February 23, 2010
OMG, what a difficult book to rate. Let me say that I just loved this book. I would have given 4 stars if it wasn't for that annoying part right in the middle and the author's tendency to let the heroine be rape or almost rape most of the book. I mean seriously, who does that? why would you want your heroine to suffer something like that? But well... (I must clarify that this is not a spoiler because it isn't something that happened once. I don't know why but Mona Lisa gets stuck in those kind of situations too many times)

But don't get me wrong, a million things were amazing in this book if you can leave that detail apart. LOL.

The world of the children of the moon was amazing, something really different from everything that's out there. I couldn't stop reading this book, I finished it in a day. I really liked a lot of things. Apart from this new world, the characters were good and I'll definitely will be reading the next book soon.

I know that this book has a lot of weird situations and events going on, but everything gets right at the end, you get to understand why events develop the way they do. I loved this book.
Profile Image for Lori .
116 reviews213 followers
December 4, 2013
I would have given this book 3.5 starts if that were an option because while I enjoyed the book, there were a few things that bothered me about it. It was an engaging and engrossing story, I have to admit. Enough so that I read it in one night. It's obvious the author is a fan of LKH, who is one of my favorite authors so I didn't really mind the similarities. What bothered me was that right from the beginning, Lisa doesn't seem at all surprised to learn that she belongs to a race of beings who used to inhabit the moon. She meets Gryphon and immediately is so drawn to him that she doesn't really question anything. Her relationships with her men develop so quickly that there isn't a lot of depth to them. I hope in the subsequent books we'll see more character development and the relationships won't be so rushed. I will definitely read the other books and I'm looking forward to seeing if like Anita and Merry, Lisa takes more of her guard to bed.
January 16, 2011
This book is one of the reasons the paranormal romance genre, unless infused with fresh ideas beyond vampires, werewolves and the slayers who love/lust them, will begin to implode as savvier readers will seek out other, better written subgenres of romance. Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but when the imitation cannot find its own style or voice, it reads more like bad fanfiction rather than a work that stands on its own merits.

The initial concept of Mona Lisa Awakening is actually quite ingenious. The Moniere are a race of otherworldly beings who once lived on the surface of the moon and whom had to leave it as the moon's surface became uninhabitable. They are primarily a matriarchal society ruled by strong Queens. Of course, some of the Queens are benign and others tend to be wicked...

Okay, seen this before. With Anne Bishop and her Black Jewels Trilogy.

Into this world comes twenty-one year old ER nurse Lisa, whom on page one is a competent, caring ER nurse (do we believe she's only twenty-one for her internal monolgues are of a woman a little older). She's mousy, lonely with a "mysterious" talent for detecting what ails her patients and was an orphan who has no link to her real family save a small silver cross. One night while working her shift, she meets (and for some reason starts lusting after) a wounded male named David Michaels whose heart rate beats far slower than her own inexplicable fifty beats per minute. After tasting his blood (would an ER nurse knowing how easily AIDS is transmitted really DO that?), and discovering that she's this powerful Mixed Blood Queen, Lisa (now known as Mona Lisa. I take it that "Mona" is an honorific used by the Queens, it's never quite explained) is suddenly channeling Anita Blake.

David, whose real name is Gryphon, is a falcon shapeshifter. After Lisa takes him to bed and they have sex, she orders him in a voice that is very different from her first chapter self-effeacing demeanor (I guess finding out that you're the Queen of a bunch of moonpeople will do that to a woman), then sneak into another Queen's lair to find an antidote to the stilletto wound which has weakened Gryphon and if not treated with an antidote, will kill him in thirty days. Somewhere there's a bunch of knives, another Moniere male named Amber whose sole purpose in life is to rape other Queens at the behest of Mona Sera, the ultimate Mommy Dearest and not surprisingly, Mona Lisa's mother. Oh and Mona Lisa has sex with the nicely endowed Amber in order to heal him from being left out in the sun after he disobeyed Mona Sera's order to rape the new Queen.

Much of the narrative dialogue was painful to the extreme, including this classic line: "Homophobic, me? Nah. I just felt more comfortable fighting. Street fighting and a hodgepodge of other disciplines thrown in."

Mona Lisa Awakening seems to be filled with every bad trope known to the paranormal romance genre, and even some it hasn't heard of yet. The author, obviously not a stickler for details, simply tosses a lot of comic-book style action our way and explains very little, leaving the reader with a lot of questions and absolutely no answers. Throwing ubiquitous sex scenes into a paranormal story does not make a book anything like Laurell K. Hamilton, who can at least tell a compelling tale and create characters one cares about.

I read this author is the wife of a NYT Bestselling writer, however it seemed that she didn't pick up any words of wisdom. I fail to see how on earth "Sunny" edits her famous husband's work when this book so desparately needed it. I gave this book ONE STAR and even that was way too many. I very seldom return books, but this one may be the first I will have to do so.

Addendum: I met Sunny at an RT convention several years ago and she's a very sweet person. However, the book was still wretched. The sad thing is that she really had the chance to do something different and make her mark on an increasingly stale genre. When I want "evil queens", I'll read either Anne Bishop or Frank Beddor, thank you very much, who do them much better.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Joi.
6 reviews
December 29, 2011
I read in reviews that it was clear that the author was influenced by the Anita Blake series. Having read those I thought to myself that if these are anything like Laurell K. Hamilton's series then they should be good. I was wrong. I read this and the second book in the series. Awakening had a good start it seemed like it had a lot of potential. But the transition she made from being a seemingly normal human being with a special abilities to a domineering "Monere" queen isn't believable. There isn't a gradual progression. Its like a switch was flipped. Also,I didn't think that the characters were developed very well. Sunny doesn't really explain anyone's past or history besides Mona Lisa's. One of the things I love in novels is when the author gives you a glimpse into what has shaped a character into who they are presently in the book. It makes them seem more realistic. The relationships she forms don't have much substance. She just about instantly falls in love with everyone that she meets. I really wanted to like this book but it felt like a diluted version of the Anita Blake or Merry Gentry series.
Profile Image for Jai.
613 reviews114 followers
August 23, 2008
Seems to have a lot of similarities with Laurell Hamilton's Meredith Gentry series and Anne Bishops Black Jewel series. In fact, if you read those books, this feels like fanfiction. The writing is awkward - dialog sort of stilted (moves from casual speech to formal at odd times), characterization very one dimensional, romance unbelievable, and the protagonist is a Mary Sue who everyone falls in love with for no good reason. She has 1 magical ability at the beginning of the book and keeps gaining new ones until she has about 8 by the end - a little overboard and a little cliched, aspects I noticed a lot throughout the book. I have a feeling you are either going to love this book if what you want is something trashy + erotic + pure fluff, otherwise you may not like this.
Profile Image for Lucia.
373 reviews
June 22, 2010
I found this book completely unbelievable even for a paranormal romance/erotica. First of all...NO romance...only sex. The "hey I just met you but lets have sex and then I'll love you forever" kind and even more ridiculous, the "hey I'm dying so heal me with sex and then you will love me forever" kind. Secondly, rape is not erotic and I feel it has no place in books that claim to be sensual. Oh, and the whole, you are not human...OK, I'm not human so now I'm going to f%*k everyone and turn ultraviolent and maim people within the first few hours of my new life....did I say ridiculous?
October 1, 2009
This was another one of those books that sat on my "to read" shelf forever--I kept putting it off for one reason or another...I think that the description of the book on the cover doesn't do the book justice.

When I read the cover, I was thinking--hmmm, children of the moon--that sounds stupid. Without giving anything away, being one of the "children of the moon" really just means you bask or rejuvenate your body in the moon light when it is a full moon. Sunny does a great job of creating her own version of vampires, shifters and demons.

Mona Lisa knows nothing of her heritage and is living as a lonely single woman amongst humans. She has never felt any sort of emotional connection with any human male and has no idea what it feels like to experience the joys of a relationship the couples share. Then, one night she comes in contact with an injured Monere warrior at the ER-where she works and from there, her world is forever changed as she feels like she has never felt before.

Although I would not classify this book as erotic, there are explicit sexual situations, as well as action and violence. So, if you have an aversion to that type of content, please be advised. I personally did not think this series was any more violent than others I have read, but several people I recommended it to commented on the violence. :-)

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Profile Image for Tina.
1,761 reviews279 followers
December 14, 2007
This book was alright. It was like this weird wanna be cross between Anne Bishops dark jewels series and Laurell Hamilton's Anita Blake series. It was an ok enough story but I couldn't help feeling that there was a better story trying to get out. Also, I was so distracted by how similar in tone/feel to the other two authors that I cited, that I couldn't enjoy it. Subconsciously I kept comparing it to them.

I will probably read the follow up book to see if the story improves.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Giosia.
18 reviews5 followers
July 29, 2011
I feel like there is next to nothing that I can say about this book. I can’t say that it was amazing, nor can I say that it was horrible. To be honest, I have a distinct feeling of “meh” when I think about it.

My lack of ability to say whether the book was good or not may something to do with the fact that when I read it, I had a disturbing feeling of déjà vu. While I noticed that the author had thanked Laurell K. Hamilton and Anne Bishop in her acknowledgements, I was surprised to find that this book read like a mash-up of the two author’s works. The only difference being that I found this book quite unbelievable and I didn’t appreciate the writing style at all.

Having read Bishop’s novels, one could say that I’m a little partial to her. I enjoy her writing, her characters, and the worlds she has created. While the world created in Mona Lisa Awakening is nothing new, the Monère are. Originally hailing from the moon, the Monère are a race of magical beings who now live side-by-side with humans. Poisoned by silver, unable to go out into the sun, nearly all shifters, they’re a sort of mixture of vampires and werelings.

The Monère have a hierarchy reminiscent of Bishop’s Black Jewels series, in that the men protect and serve the Queens of their race. Mixed bloods are used as little more than slaves. The Queens of the Monère have become twisted, in turn twisting the males who serve them. A few of the men have gone rogue, supposedly killing a Queen and now they refuse to allow any Queen to dominate them.

One thing I was prepared for, by the reviews I read, were the scenes depicting sexual intercourse. What I wasn’t prepared for was that the first one appeared less than twenty-five pages into the book. About then is where I was reminded why I stopped reading Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series; the point where the main character essentially throws away all sense of herself just so she can get laid.

In addition to all the issues I have with the characters, I feel that the storyline and prose were not very well written. At one point, Mona Lisa thinks something along the lines of, “And it had only been two days.” In two days, this woman had been uprooted from her life as an ER nurse, dragged out to the middle-of-nowhere Minnesota and been told she’s a Queen of a mythical race who come from the moon and sleep with the men bound to protect them. It seems a little far-fetched and I had a terrible time attempting to dispel my disbelief as the story wore on.

As the story continued, I found more and more places where the author’s story was like Bishop’s Black Jewels series, from the names of characters, to the demon dead, and characters who “fade back to the darkness”. Essentially, the book felt like it had become a new, modernized retelling of the Black Jewels series, with a hyper-sexualized overtone. To be sure, I found myself more than a little frustrated that the author was so blatant in her borrowing from those who had inspired her writing.

Granted, I knew most of this going into my reading. I certainly can’t say that I am surprised, but I am quite disappointed: I’d heard good things about this series, and now I’m left with a near full set of books I will, most likely, never read.

While many say that those who enjoy the works of Anne Bishop and Laurell K. Hamilton will enjoy these novels, I would say that the ones who will enjoy this probably lean more toward the Hamilton line. I believe that fans of Bishop will be affronted by the familiarity of a few particular characters, while those who enjoy Hamilton’s works more will be intrigued by the sexual escapades of Mona Lisa and her entourage. Those of you who fall somewhere in the middle … I certainly wouldn’t recommend this book but if you enjoy urban fantasy and your erotica in written format, this wouldn’t be a bad series to try.
Profile Image for Dawn.
759 reviews36 followers
January 19, 2013
What to say about this book...I was really optimistic that it would get better after all so many people rated this book at 4 or even 5 stars. But I should have quit while I was ahead.

The plot is actually interesting, the Moniere are aliens who used to live on the moon before it became uninhabitable or maybe they got kicked out that was not real clear. Details details moving on so the men of Monere have to serve and mate with a Queen to live, they draw their power from them in bask in the moonlight (only on the full moon though). Ok so enter Mona Lisa she is a 21 year old nurse who has has a rather tragic childhood growing up in foster homes. Well one night at work she meets up with another of her kind...yeah that was kind of weird because she thought she was human until she sees this guy Gryphon and realizes she is other. Mona Lisa is apparently bad-a$$ because she does not even bat an eye at not being human and being mixed blood is not a problems. Moving on we find out she can diagnose people and curb the pain of sickness (but she cannot heal, well not yet), she can hear for miles around (which is odd because she gets attacked a lot), she has mind control and a host of other powers that I would mention but I do not want to ruin it for you, and if you are worried we know all this by page 20 so...The guy Gryphon tells he she is a Queen but here is the thing Gryophon is dying slowly because his Queen stabbed him. Well Mona Lisa will not allow it, if there is a rumor about a cure she will find it and because she is bad-a$$ she goes right to the Queen of NY's home and searches it, but then her stellar skills let her and Gryphon down because they get caught. Ah but don't worry kids our heroine is headed to the high court which is awesome because there are healers there and maybe one of them will deal with this nasty silver poison issue. Well she gets to court and things do not go as planned Mona Lisa almost gets raped like a few times and she has to fight and more stuff like that.

Here is the thing Mona Lisa is just to much I mean she has all of these powers and is incredibly understanding but um this book takes place in less than a month. Really you would not feel weird about a new world, money, you are not human?? Ok so even if you can get with all of that the story does not have a trajectory really it feels like there is a lot of rape, men getting hurt that Mona Lisa will heal and a lot of jealous queens out to destroy her. Mona Lisa seems to change a lot one minute she is kind the next she is a dominating queen and at others she is just a free loving pal and she switches between the characters like she has a personality disorder.

Even all of that I could get past if this did not seem so much like Meredith Gentry by Laurell K Hamilton. While Mona Lisa is not to quick to bed everyone she certainly is confident that all those who are male and see her must want her. I think this could have worked if there was some reasoning behind it some description of the lure. In the end I never sympathized with the characters or the plot so it felt like I was skimming through the book. While I think Sunny is probably a good writer her use of words would throw me off, sometimes it was very cheesy "I found my hell-cat and none are as sassy as you". Or wrong terms like quoting Tony the Tiger incorrectly the line is "Their Great! not that's great. Or the going between archaic speech to slang.

Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,163 followers
November 5, 2007
The premise behind Mona Lisa Awakening has nothing to do with Italian painting. The Monère are an alien race who (don't laugh) once lived on the moon, and who get their power from moonlight. Their gifts vary, from shape-shifting to mind compulsion to being invisible. They live amongst us, our world divided up into territories ruled by Queens.

Mona Lisa is an orphan, her name coming from the silver cross she was wearing as a baby when found. Now working as a nurse, though only twenty-one, she is drawn to a patient, a young man called Gryphon with a deep wound in his abdomen who recognises her for what she really is: a Monère Queen, and a Mixed Blood to boot - an unheard-of combination. The "Mona" in her name means Queen, by the way.

Gryphon draws her into his world, awakening her true power and gifts. She's a spirited woman, a great heroine, and throws the Monère's world upside-down with her uniqueness. She's hunted by those who want her gifts for themselves and feel threatened by her, and desired by many.

You won't find this book in the fantasy or the romance section*. There are some graphic scenes - and some violent ones - in this book, but no more so than in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series. I'm trying to think of the main reason why it's not with other books of its kind, and my guess is mostly the language - less corny and sickly, more frank in its descriptions - and the violence, perhaps, though nothing too bad ever really happens. She manages to save herself in time, and protects others too, though she does have trouble keeping her clothes on (and makes a joke about it herself).

The writing style is a simple, first-person narrative, a similar style to P.C. Cast and easy to read. The cover recommends it to fans of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake vampire-slayer books, and Anne Bishops' Black Jewels trilogy. I've read and enjoyed the latter, and there is a similarity in the matriachal-but-power-corrupted leaders, among other things. If you enjoyed those books you'll probably enjoy this one, which is the first in a trilogy (so far).

*It was moved from erotica to romance when the fourth book came out.
Profile Image for Kristen.
232 reviews12 followers
February 16, 2009
It's funny, I haven't finished this - but that to me is telling. I typically pick up the paranormal romance stuff and finish them each within 24 hours of starting (and they are usually quite a bit longer then this one). Don't get me wrong, a nice juicy scene in the first 25 pages is welcome - but I was perplexed by how within 15 minutes of meeting each other our 2 main characters are so "you're mine" and "I'm never going to let you go" and how fast she goes from orphaned no-one to commanding queen (again by the end of the first love scene - she's ordering him around and saying "if I am your queen...."). It is a little over the top - even for this genre.

I let go of any expectations of great writing (you know, the kind that leads to reprints by Penguin Classics or that sort - Jane Austin, Alexandre Dumas, etc.) when I step into the romance section of the book store - but I have been pleasantly surprised in the past by some awfully good plots, character development, etc. in certain series in that area - where I can't wait to read the next book in the series - well, here, I am not sure I am even going to finish the first book. I mean, the first chapter leaves almost nothing to be imagined - in the story or on the sex scene.... could we have learned more about each character over time? That's how readers become invested in the book - but learning about them gradually, giving the reader time to appreciate and like the character. Here they both spilled their guts in the first 5 pages and from what I see in the review - I shouldn't expect to get a whole lot more on the character development front. I also have a hard time reading this type of book when in the first person point of view. It's all "I" this and "I" that - but yet we still get to see/learn what others are thinking and feeling -without being told by the great narrator in the sky? It doesn't work for me.

Two weeks after starting, I am still only about 1/3 of the way through. I will probably tough it out - in the hopes that it gets better. But I don't have high hopes.
Profile Image for #ReadAllTheBooks.
1,219 reviews83 followers
April 22, 2013
I think if I had to sum up this book in a word, it'd be "irritating". Why irritating? Because while this book isn't nearly as awful as I thought it would be, it's more irritating at how much of its potential that it wastes.

The sex scenes in this are rather short for what's often billed as erotica. They last maybe about a page or two at average and are about as graphic as your average romance novel, which is probably why I've seen this sold in many stores on the romance shelves. They're decently written, so I have no true complaints as far as this goes.

Where I grew irritated was with how the book was written. Mona Lisa is probably one of the more blatant and worse Mary Sues out there in that she adapts so quickly and effortlessly to various situations without any true drawback. I occasionally found myself being bored by some of the events, as I never felt like there was any true threat against Mona Lisa or her men. She'd always come out on top and she'd always find a way to have her men survive. She adapts far too quickly to various strange circumstances, especially when you consider that she went from being completely ignorant of the supernatural world to becoming a queen and traipsing through various courts within the span of a few chapters.

What makes all of this so frustrating is that this had a lot of promise. This felt like it could have been so much more than what it is. The general idea here is good and it's not like the author here is talentless. The start of the novel was pretty good, but over time this just unravels under Sunny's desire to make Mona Lisa the best, brightest, and most powerful of any queen that ever lived. I don't always mind Mary Sues when they're handled just right and this isn't one of those cases.

I'll probably check out the next book to see if Sunny tones down the Mary Sue a few notches, as I did like the idea and beginning of the book. It's not so bad that I want to burn my copy or tell everyone to avoid it, but I do recommend getting this via the library rather than buying it outright.
Profile Image for Quinn.
738 reviews61 followers
August 29, 2015
2.5 stars

This one was very nearly a DNF for me. The first 50 pages made for some of the most ridiculous reading I have ever encountered. Nonsensical. But... Defying all explanation, I was somehow drawn into the story enough to want to continue with the next book. I really can't explain it.

Mona Lisa has lived her life believing herself human, albeit feeling that she somehow doesn’t belong. Until one day while working as a nurse in the ER, she encounters a man who she is inexplicably drawn to. She quickly discovers that he is of her people, the Monère – children of the moon. And not only is she not human, she is a Queen.

Well, that explains it then. With no period of adjustment, Mona Lisa is all of a sudden issuing queenly commands, jumping into bed with the dangerously ill stranger, and battling large men with the ease of her previously unknown superhuman power. Yup. All in the first 50 pages.

I think if the start to the story was less abrupt and had any plausibility, the entire book would have fared significantly better. The world the author created was not without its appeal, and there were some truly memorable moments and compelling characters, along with interesting politics and intrigue.

But these were unfortunately counter-balanced by the ridiculousness of some of the plot devices – the fact that Mona Lisa heals through sex being one that stands out as being particularly lame. I also think that this was a little too close to science fiction for my liking - I'm not a sci-fi fan and they always seem especially incongruous in an erotic novel.

And yet... I've ordered the next book. I want to know what happens.
Profile Image for Jane Stewart.
2,462 reviews848 followers
September 28, 2010
4 1/2 stars. Liked it a lot. Definitely recommend it.

It had a good story and some good characters which is unusual for erotica. I plan to read more of this series. Story brief: The Monere people have powers and magic abilities humans don't have. The Monere live among humans, but humans don't know they are different. Queens rule territories. Mona Lisa was part Monere and part human and was left in an orphanage at birth. When she is 21, she meets Gryphon and realizes an unusual power exists between them. She stays with him and starts learning of the Monere world and is later accepted as one of the queens. She is in danger several times during the story. I enjoyed the side story about Prince Halcyon. I was surprised with the relationships Mona Lisa eventually had with Gryphon, Amber and Halcyon. I found that creative. I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't go into any more detail. Sexual language: strong. Number of sex scenes: ten. There are some references to rape and one semi-graphic rape scene. Setting: current day New York City and Bennington, Minnesota. Genre: erotica and paranormal romance.
Profile Image for Heather.
70 reviews10 followers
July 17, 2008
The review makes this book sound good, as in good, as in "yes, I came--three times. Did you?" Recommended to me by another librarian, I thought, I'd give it a try. I was so incredibly disappointed! There's absolutely no character development--Mona Lisa "discovers" her tru identity? I'd like to know where in the story *that* happens... It's just a bunch of sex--sex for fun, sex for healing, sex until their inner lights start glowing (yes, they fuck and they glow. It's apparently beautiful.).

I was actually fine with the all the sex--I mean, we all need a break from pseudo and real literature. Sometimes, a well-written fuck scene is good, as in good, as in... well, you get the picture. But, you're not going to find that here. Instead, there're lots of pulsing manhood and thick shafts and rape scenarios (at one point, while in the Monère's hands, Mona Lisa's captors threaten to rape her since she's a half-breed. And while Mona Lisa thinks this is bad, she eventually convinces herself that being fucked by force and against her will could actually turn out to be HOTT.).
Profile Image for Jaimie.
127 reviews9 followers
March 19, 2010
So I am kind of embarrassed that I even read this series. In my defense I didn't really mean to. Well it was at a time when I was reading like 7+ books a week and I was grabbing anything that sounded kind of interesting and I ended up with the third book. So instead of reading it and finding out it is basically porn I went and bought the first thinking that at the rate I was reading it didn't really matter how good it was. So that is how I started the series but I obviously went out and read the other two and I got my friend to read them as well so I didn't feel that bad about it. They are interesting but really every problem is solved by the main character having sex. Not just any sex either, this stuff is very detailed and kinky. The author used to be a doctor and if I knew my doctor wrote stuff like this I don't think I could look her in the eye. It is a very creative and vivid world she has written. The characters are have decent dimension but I warn you it will make you blush - and this is coming from someone who regularly reads steamy romance!
Profile Image for Lorelei.
120 reviews4 followers
August 30, 2009
Poorly paced erotica with a thin veneer of very silly and illogical urban fantasy.

Overly reliant on sexual violence as a plot device and the characters...what characters? The lead female doesn't even have a consistent way of speaking.

The inhabitants of this book are very two dimensional and ridiculously immature for supposedly long-lived beings.

Some of the English in the narrative is terrible. Was this book even edited? I don't understand how this tosh gets published when great authors can't get signed. Maybe she knows someone in the business...
Profile Image for Terri.
8 reviews
April 26, 2010
Okay so...if you want a book that the entire plot is based off of sex, then this is the book for you. Me, on the other hand, like a little depth to a story I read, whether it be plot, theme, or character. The characters in this book are EXTREMELY flat. The actual plot in the book is rushed. It goes something like this: tons of information in 2 or 3 pages, sex, more information, sex, you get the point. What little plot there is, doesn't make sense half the time, and you're left wondering why on earth you're reading this mindless book.
Profile Image for Amy.
90 reviews10 followers
March 24, 2009
I almost didn't add this to my GoodReads account. I didn't like how the main character jumped so easily into this other world and all the strangeness that she discovers. I also didn't like how she speaks like a modern-day American one minute and then like a Ren Faire reject the next.

Simply felt like it wanted to be Laurell K. Hamilton's Faerie series.

In the author's defense, I've read some of her short stories and enjoyed them.
Profile Image for Valerie.
2,018 reviews164 followers
September 18, 2009
Good thing I wasn't reading this for the plot or the characters.
Profile Image for The Librarian.
453 reviews11 followers
April 23, 2013
Life is way too short to read a bad book. For something along a similar vein, but with much better writing, check out Jacqueline Carey or Anne Bishop.
Profile Image for M.E. Aster.
Author 3 books43 followers
August 10, 2022
I originally read this book ages ago but I was unpacking some boxes last night and when I came across it I just had to reread it.

I tore through this in a few hours. It definitely lived up to my memories of it.

Although a bit problematic in places (namely an almost rape scene so watch out if that triggers you) I still loved this book.

The idea of the Monére being from the moon and their unique system of rule is so interesting to me. Yes this is a spicy book but the plot is very intriguing and I enjoyed watching Mona Lisa learn about her heritage and coming into her rightful place as Queen.

I definitely recommend this to any fans of steamy paranormal romance!
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