Thursday, January 19, 2023

Janet Chapman - Moonlight Warrior

Eve Anderson is darned tired of Kenzie Gregor meddling in her business. She might be struggling to keep herself and her ailing mother financially afloat, but she's no princess in need of a strong, capable knight in a black SUV to rescue her -- even if he is easy on the eyes. Besides, there's something very odd about him...and she's sure the strange events occurring in their small coastal Maine town are linked to his recent arrival.
Once an immortal warrior cursed to live as a panther, Kenzie is finally free to live and die as a man, and his destiny is to help other displaced souls. Of course, if he can get tiny, blue-eyed, curly blond Eve out of the deal, doesn't get any better. But she's as stubborn and fierce as a lioness, and in order to win her love, he must tempt her with forbidden desires....

Comment: In 2018 I've read another book by this author, part of a different series, and I wasn't impressed. However, since I still had this one too, from my days of collecting the first book in PNR series, I've decided to give the author another chance and, at the same time, take one more book out of the long standing pile.

Kenzie Gregor has been a cursed man for centuries but he is now free of his panther shape and he wants to help others who have had the same fate as his. Along with a friend and with the back up of his brpother and a good group pf other friends, he has purchased a propriety in Maine, near the ocean, and is keen on creating a haven for animals and people.
What Kenzie doesn't know is that the land sold to him had Eve and her mother Mabel living there, but they eventually reach an agreement that benefits them all. At the same time he starts to care for Eve and think she might be the woman he can fall in love with, but will the magic and the weirdness in his life be too much for her? 

I think the first detail I must share here is that, as indicated by the author, this is the first book in a spin off. I expected that and it becomes very obvious as the pages move along and we are giving a lot of detail and references to people, situations which had to be part of other stories. I don't think it affects how the information can be understood here, after all the plot has structure, but it can be a little annoying here and there, when certain things are mentioned and I guessed but didn't know what they meant.

Something else I can say is that, with time passing by, more of my appreciation for the books that aren't immediately appealing to me can depend on how much focus I can have while reading. I've managed to read a good part of this story without distractions and I think this helped me enjoy most of it. Despite that, I wasn't completely won over because the character development felt very basic, just as I remember from the other book... I guess this must be the author's style and that's fine, but for me the lack of depth in some things make the overall effect to be weak.

The paranormal content is simple and not dark at all. In fact, I was surprised by how tame and superficial the drama was, in regards to what Kenzie was doing and how he had been cursed by a witch and his interpretation of what a curse is and how one can be free of it (apparently, "look for the hero inside yourself" ah ah, with the help of some magic). I did like this wasn't filled with endless drama or so much external conflict that the plot would be muddled, but I also think the author could have done better.

There's this slight vibe of comedy throughout the plot... I think the "light" tone helps and in some cases makes for a cute scene or situation, but it also made me think the characters were being a bit too naive or even a little juvenile at times... that's why I think the characterization wasn't too good. I know these must be good people and we learn things about their past and their experiences so we can accept their reasons for this or that but... I wasn't fully invested in them.

The romance is quite weak and along with the paranormal stuff, made for a very basic story. the book has more than 300 pages but I don't feel we were advancing that much and the moments they shared were or ridiculous or too obvious... when they tell each other they are in love or falling in love I just didn't buy it. I know enough things had happened to make it possible but I just wasn't convinced a relationship between them would work. Plus, Kenzie, who has been cursed to live in panther shape for who knows how long, never mentions that nor changes shape now... I did think we would have more on that.

Eve's mother Mabel has a good participation in this story and, in the end, the author shared a note where she says she based this character on her own mother, who also had a type of dementia as Mabel is portrayed to have. I found this touching and made me like Mabel even more, for she is depicted as good woman, and to be fair, she is probably my favorite character in the book.

All things considered, I found this one a bit easier to read and enjoy than the other book I had tried by the author. But the writing style is what it is and I don't feel particularly impressed that I feel like trying even more things so... I'll leave the experience of the author's work with the more or less enjoyable elements of this one in my head.
Grade: 6/10

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