by Janice Sims, contemporary (2008)
Kimani, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-373-83112-8
I'm a fan of Janice Sims. While I can't say every book of hers has worked for me in the past, I've always enjoyed the one constant in her books: likable characters who click and fall in love so naturally and sweetly. And isn't that what I read romance novels for? However, Seduced By Moonlight is a barely recognizable book by this author in its first half or so. The first half is so shoddily executed, it's as if I'm reading a first draft of a story. The second half really picks up the pieces, thus sparing me the ordeal of having to give this book a really low score.
The story is actually pretty simple. Our heroine, Cherise Washington, is the head pediatric nurse in Mercy Washington, located somewhere in Denver. Between her job (having to deal with the nurses, the kiddies, and the management who may not act on the best interests of the staff at times) and her family (Cherise is a single mother to a 17-year old daughter and she also cares for her aging mother), Cherise hasn't had much time to spare for romance. Not since the death of a cop boyfriend who was fatally shot while on duty, anyway, and that was about six years ago. Therefore, Cherise is surprised when she definitely feels interested when she meets a handsome hunk while accompanying a friend to a luxurious ski resort in Vail, Colorado.
The hunk in question is Harrison Payne, a former hotshot quarterback who has decided to settle down with the right woman now that he has hoarded bags and bags of money into his humongous bank account. When he meets Cherise, he is in a relationship while she is just some woman he happens to bump into. Nothing will happen, nothing should happen. When he ends up sponsoring a promising young skier who turns out to be Cherise's daughter, and he also happens to be available at that time, however, that's when he decides to turn on his charm and woo Cherise. However, as luck will have it, Cherise's ex-husband from a long time ago has reformed his ways and shows up in Cherise's life. Cherise lets Charlie hang around because he is, after all, Danielle's father, but things between her and Harrison get a little complicated when Charlie decides that he wants to start anew with Cherise.
The best thing about this story is the romance. Harrison is a dream. He was a player in the past, but he's not some womanizer who can't stop straying. He's ready to settle down with the right woman, he loves his mother, he treats his woman like a pampered princess, and he is loaded with lots and lots of money. What's not to love? Okay, he's probably a little too perfect, but Ms Sims gives Harrison a nice sense of humor and plenty of modern day Prince Charming gallantry, so Harrison is at least not a boring nice guy. Cherise is a strong and likable heroine who hasn't had the easiest life, but she's a person who takes the hard knocks she's received in life to become a stronger person. I like her. She and Harrison have a relationship that is full of easy camaraderie and credible passion. Now that I think of it, I think these two may be my favorite couple from this author in a long time.
I also enjoy the fact that Charlie is allowed to be human instead of just some The Other Man stereotype. Even Harrison's ex is allowed to be human instead of some Catty Skanky Ho caricature.
However, the first half or so of this book is very problematic. There are plenty of dizzying switches in point of view, the worst being when the author includes descriptions of things that a character cannot be aware of during a scene from that character's point of view. There are too many scenes that feel more like the author hammering home a point from her pulpit with all the subtlety of a lightning bolt from the heavens, such as those scenes where Cherise has to deal with the antics of the management while trying to be fair to the nurses who report to her. This part of the book has me wondering whether the author was having some problem with the muse. It is only when the relationship between Harrison and Cherise get going that things pick up considerably and the book becomes much more readable and entertaining.
Seduced By Moonlight therefore is a pretty odd duck in that I know this book has some serious problems from a technical standpoint, but I really like the romance and I wish I can close one eye and overlook the very problematic early parts of this book. Still, I guess I have to be fair and exercise some tough love in this case.
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