Title: Masked by Moonlight
Author: Nancy Gideon
Page Count: 375 pages
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Copy for review provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
50 words or less: Charlotte Caissie is a detective for the NOPD who's been wrestling with a dirty little secret: her admiration for mobster Max Savoie. Neither of them wants to deny their attraction or fight their need for each other; too bad what we want isn't always important.
Ladies and gentlemen, my eyeballs are about to fall out of my head. I literally just finished reading Masked by Moonlight and haven't felt that emotionally drained in a long time. This author grabs ahold of your heartstrings and shakes them until you don't know which way is up. It is an excellent thing that the second and third books in this series come out so soon, because I am DYING to know what happens next in this series.
Charlotte is a good, by-the-book cop who wants justice for victims. And that's all. It's been her reason for existing since the terrible events of her childhood scarred her forever- her dad's murder, her experience as a hostage to try to get other people to do things, you name it- and she was willing to let that be enough. Too bad Max Savoie is taking up an awful lot of her attention.
Max, on the other hand, feels that he owes everything to Jimmy Legere, a notorious crime boss who rescued Max from destitution and starvation when he was a child. It helps that Jimmy is keeping Max's secret- Max is a shape shifter, and Max thinks that he's the only one in existence.
Charlotte and Max are simultaneously perfect for each other and the worst thing that has ever happened to each of them. Their attraction is immediate and visceral, and they can relate to the loss and horror that each has experienced in a way that few others can. Max gives Charlotte unwavering love and devotion, strength when she needs it, a shoulder to cry on, and a commitment she never thought she'd want. Charlotte gives Max respect, love, shares her secrets and her emotions, and treats him like a person instead of a tool.
There's just this teeny tiny issue- she's a cop, and he's a mobster. It's an issue that transcends the "we don't talk about work" arena and rocks both of these characters to their cores and makes them question their identities. This leads to a lot of malfunctioning communication between these two that causes a lot of emotional angst for the reader. Max is surprisingly innocent (some would say naive) in dealing with emotions and relationships, and Charlotte can't ever turn the cop part of her brain off and is always thinking about how pieces fit together or how she can use information she's learning. This isn't a slam on either of them; it does show, however, how two fragile people can do a lot of damage to each other without meaning to.
There's a murder mystery afoot in this book, and it takes a definite backseat to the issues that stand in the way of Charlotte and Max having a successful, fulfilling relationship. This book is different in that these two loving each other is never really in question; whether or not they'll find a way to be together in a way that both of them can live with is the real issue, and is not resolved here. Like I said, I'm anxiously awaiting the next book.
My feelings are still coming out of the blender after reading this book, so it's not surprising to me that my issue with this book ties directly into something I already identified as a strength. The emotions, strengths, and shortcomings of both of these characters are laid bare throughout the course of this book. We get Charlotte's perspective; we get Max's perspective. Sometimes, I shouted out loud, WHAT ARE YOU TWO THINKING?! Charlotte! You got busted telling someone that your feelings for him were faked and you were only using him to get to his boss/psuedo-dad, and you're hurt that he's hurt. WHAT DID YOU THINK WOULD HAPPEN?! Max! You introduced Charlotte as your girlfriend (which she totally is) to all the other sketchy underworld people so they would know not to mess with her, but are shocked and hurt to find out that she's still kind of squicked out about being in love with a mobster and she's worried about how this will hurt her career as a POLICE OFFICER. WHAT DID YOU THINK WOULD HAPPEN?! This sword cuts both ways- I was so engrossed with the story that I was picking the meat off of every story bone, desperate to get more, but at the same time things stuck out to me that were...inconsistent with the morals and characters of the characters, for lack of a better way to say it. I am definitely interested to see how this element plays out in future books.
If you have a love for shape shifter books, want to root for a couple to overcome some serious odds, love mobsters, drama, intrigue, and the city of New Orleans, then do yourself a favorite and pick up this book. I kid you not, this is one of my favorites so far of 2010, and I don't say that lightly.
Overall Grade: A+
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