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REVIEW: Chased by Moonlight by Nancy Gideon

Dear Ms. Gideon:

This is book two in the Max and CeeCee saga. Book one is Masked by Moonlight and introduces Max Savoie, the inheritor of the criminal empire of Jimmy Legere, and New Orleans homicide detective Charlotte Caissie. Max and CeeCee love each other and profess their love multiples times throughout the book but their love is challenged by their competing interests and moralities.

Chased by Moonlight - Nancy GideonMax never intended to take over control of Jimmy’s empire but he realizes that he can’t allow Jimmy’s weak, amoral brother run it either. Further, Max discovers that there is a whole community of shapeshifters who have been used as hard laborers and enforcers for the criminal sector. These men and women live shabbily and without pride. Max has the potential to give them a better life and he wants that or them. He’s never had family other than Jimmy and amongst his kind, he feels a sense of kinship he has never had before.

The dichotomy between Max’s two sides are shown in sharp relief in this book. He is overwhelmed by the business side of the empire and must rely on people he doesn’t trust to carry advise him. The only thing he has been trained to do is take orders and now he must not only give orders, but make decisions about which orders to give. Plus, he desperately wants to find out more about his past. Yet, his dialogue is that of a smooth seductor and he radiates power to most.

CeeCee is struggling with having a relationship with a known criminal and maintaining her reputation and position as an officer of the law. This comes to a head when a high profile murder occurs that places Max in the suspect seat. CeeCee demands to remain the lead detective on the case even when confronted by her captain about how it would look to the public. CeeCee manages to convince her captain that she will remain impartial.

This series is premised on mysteries solved, in part, by CeeCee whose PROFESSION is to build a case to bring criminals to justice. It is set in our world and she presumably operates under our laws. Now I understand that Louisiana is the only state in the union that operates under the Napoleonic Code but even so there is still such a thing as conflict of interest. CeeCee, as the lead detective, would have to testify about the case she put together and if she is SLEEPING WITH THE MAIN SUSPECT, her credibility would be in shreds before the criminal defense lawyer stood up and said “May it please the Court.” Here’s how it would play out:

Detective Holland, you are the lead detective on this case, correct?

Initially, your investigation turned toward Max Savoie, correct?

The mother of the deceased informed you that Mr. Savoie threatened her at a charity function, correct?

You provided an initial alibi for Max Savoie, correct?

Despite this, you remained as the lead investigator in this case, correct?

Mr. Savoie’s alibi was that he was sleeping in bed with you after having sex, correct?

Objection, your honor, and move to strike the sex reference as not relevant.

I’ll rephrase, your Honor. Mr. Savoie’s alibi was that he was sleeping in your bed, correct?

It later was determined that Mr. Savoie was missing during the critical time period during which the decedent was killed?

You did not divulge this information, did you?

This information was revealed by Mr. Savoie through questioning, correct?

Throughout the investigation, you continued to have sexual intercourse on a regular basis with Mr. Savoie, true?

You maintain you were able to conclude with your “independent judgment” that he did not commit the crime, correct?

I know some authors don’t want to be bogged down by FACTS and REAL LIFE LAWS and CRAP LIKE THAT but seriously, if an author is writing a police procedure book then some adherence to the laws must take place in order to maintain some authenticity for the story. Otherwise, why have the heroine be a homicide detective? Just to provide conflict? The conflict, though, is there because of the structure of law v. criminal and when the structure isn’t adhered to, there isn’t any believable conflict.

Obviously this issue bothered me quite a bit and in fairness, you are not the only author within the romance genre that violates this fundamental principle, but lack of attention to these sorts of details that makes it easier to dismiss romance as a lightweight genre.

It would be easier to accept the plot problems if the romance was strong but I felt that the attempts to elongate tension between CeeCee and Max became contrived. In cycles, CeeCee and Max would fight, say that they love each other, have sex. Rinse and repeat. Again and again and again. The “I love yous” became empty platitudes. CeeCee clearly had a problem with Max’s lifestyle, the people in his life, and the demands of his otherness. These were completely understandable and her character arc in this book was trying to come to grips with these things. What I struggled with was that either CeeCee would have to change fundamentally or Max would. Max could never, however, shed himself of his shapeshifting nature. He would always be driven by his otherness, to some extent. We never saw CeeCee change fundamentally. What we saw her pay lip service to this change by saying the right things (I love you, I want to be with you) but there was change in her character. To a great degree, the CeeCee that you see in Book 1 is still the same person in Book 2, unchanged.

What drove me to finish the book is the mystery behind Max’s life. Who is he? What else is there out there in the world that we don’t know about. Max’s story is quite compelling and his duality of strength and vulnerability different and intriguing, unfortunately, these things weren’t enough to save the book from its myriad of other problems. I waffled back and forth on this grade between D and C-

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

10 Comments

  1. DS
    Aug 28, 2010 @ 14:37:04

    Clearly being published by Pocket Books hasn’t helped her writing.

  2. Jane
    Aug 28, 2010 @ 16:33:23

    @DS She’s got a very interesting world going here and I’m intrigued by that but everything around the world is frustrating for me to read.

  3. Debra
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 10:11:38

    This book for me was not as good as the first one. I really wanted to hit CeeCee a few times. But, Max really draws you into the story and makes you want to keep reading. The speach he makes to the news reporter makes the whole book. Now because it is a piece of fiction I don’t care if the a police procedureare right are not. I know it’s not that way in real life and this is just a book.

    Max brought me into this series and he is what kept me reading it. You want to keep reading to see who he can become. And hopefully CeeCee will see it to.

  4. DS
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 11:33:17

    @Jane: I probably should have said her plotting skills. I think it was Midnight Enchantment where the entire plot hinged on the villains acting TSTL. It would have taken some effort but the author could have worked her way around it, instead she went for the lazy plotting.

    Debra’s post above states a sentiment that I have heard time and again. But if this is the attitude of a large group of romance readers, I don’t think I’m going to have a lot of sympathy for the next time someone raises a cry of “Romance gets no respect.” Respect has to be earned.

  5. KristieJ
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 22:35:17

    Of the three I’ve read, this one is the weakest and most frustrating. But I was kept wanting to know more about Max and who he is, so I also had to read the third book and I enjoyed it more than this one.

  6. Debra
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 23:03:33

    DS, I don’t understand what you mean about my attitude, I read romance for the enjoyment of the book, the story and the tale it weaves. I don’t feel everything has to be accurate to real life. I mean this book is about a shape shifter, if it was a about something else maybe I would look at it differently. If I wanted something accurate I would read non fiction. I read to enjoy the book, as do allot of other people. I don’t think because we don’t care if things are perfect all the time that we are bringing down romance books.

    The author earns my respect when she gives me a story that I enjoy and I can get lost in the story. I enjoyed this series, the second book was not my favorite, but I liked Max he makes the books well worth it for me.

  7. Jane
    Aug 30, 2010 @ 05:50:00

    @Debra My problem is that the conflict is premised on two opposites – CeeCee the supposedly law abiding enforcement officer and Max, the criminal trying to go straight, but CeeCee’s portrayal as a law enforcement office is so ineptly portrayed that there is no believable conflict for me. Accuracy helps build an authentic and believable world, it makes it easier for me to fall into the story the author is weaving. I don’t believe that non fiction is the sole place for accuracy.

    But I think what DS is talking about is romance getting respect as a genre. When authors blithely disregard the real world constructs when they set their story in the real world, it is easy for others to make fun of the genre or dismiss it as a lightweight. And books like these that give no care to those details are exhibit A for why this type of book isn’t getting attention by the Times or other serious book outlets.

  8. Debra
    Aug 30, 2010 @ 11:30:59

    Jane, it’s funny because I saw the conflict in Cee Cee, in one part she wants to do everything by the book, but in another she really wants to trust Max but isn’t sure how to do it with the job. Now I don’t think the second book was the best of the three, and she gets a little better in the third. But I did see where she has a hard time between her job and Max. I think that is why she could be such a jerk to Max.

    I think if this book wasn’t a shifter book I might have had more issues, but since it wasn’t I don’t except it to be right. I think you have a little more leway on these kinds of books then say you would on Nora’s new one.

  9. Randi
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 16:49:56

    I’m in the middle of this book right now and having the same problems Jane had. The first book really intrigued me because it was dark and there were some elements of Roarke and Eve, and I was interested in how the author was going to make the romance work while making it different enough from Roarke/Eve. But just because the hero is a shapeshifter doesn’t, IMO, provide an excuse for the author to be lazy with her police procedures. There is so much POTENTIAL here, not for angst necessarily, but for a really really hard won HEA that would be really satisfying; but I’m not so sure I’m going to see that.

    However, based on the fact that several others have said the third book is better, I’ll try to finish the second.

  10. The Reader and Consent | Dear Author
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 04:02:06

    […] murder case was sleeping with the prime suspect and even kissed him in the interrogation room. But witness this commenter's response: Now because it is a piece of fiction I don't care if the a police procedureare right are not. I […]

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