by Bonnie Dee, paranormal (2006)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 1-59578-289-3
Bonnie Dee's Moon Over Bourbon Street clocks in at 91 pages but it is a self-contained story that feels complete with satisfying relationship building and closure. Now that's something I don't come across everyday.
The story is a pretty simple one, even a familiar one, really. Our hero Rick Plazier is a private investigator in New Orleans. He's Cajun and everything va-va-voom. He's also a werewolf. His assistant/PA/receptionist Amy Chang is pretty but she's made it very early during her employment that she doesn't like being hit upon by her boss, no matter how cute he is, so he has stayed away from her ever since then. Besides, she's a good employee. However, things heat up between them when Rick agrees to help the stereotype bombshell client Angela Addington investigate whether her husband is cheating on her (or doing something else behind her back) while Amy without her employer's knowledge accepts the request of Brian, Angela's husband, to check up on Angela. The case leads them to a more sinister plot involving sinister paranormal beasties and poor human cattle.
It is pretty easy to guess who among the Addisons is the villain using what I've learned from my years of reading this genre - Bonnie Dee is pretty predictable in that respect. Oops, did I give the identity of the villain away? However, Ms Dee is entirely correct to keep the story as simple as possible without too many complicated twists and turns given the length of the story, since Moon Over Bourbon Street as a result has solid build-up and satisfying closure. This is one of the rare stories that don't make go, "This could have been so much better if it's longer!" It's just fine the way it is.
Sure, the characterization could have been deeper but given the constraints of length, I feel that Rick and Amy are above average in the characterization department. Ms Dee alternates between first person narrations from Rick and Amy from chapter to chapter, so this technique allows me to get in their heads well enough for me to know who they are. Rick has some rather familiar aspects to his personality while Amy has a brittle and sardonic way of seeing things that I enjoy but some readers certainly won't warm to very well, but these characters aren't groundbreaking in any means, I enjoy reading their story. I find myself thinking I won't mind if this story is a little longer, not because of any obvious problems of underwritten characters and half-baked plots but because I am starting to find Rick more sexy than I'd like to admit while Amy seems like a fun person to hang out with.
The romance is built up nicely too: the closure doesn't force a "We're married now and will be popping out three babies tomorrow" resolution on me, instead Amy and Rick make it clear to me that they have feelings for each other but their love story - and adventures - is only beginning and they will no doubt be having plenty of fun along the way.
Moon Over Bourbon Street lacks that special something such as an edge in the characterization and plotting that knocks me off my feet and pushes it over above average to keeper quality material for me. However, that doesn't mean I find this book unacceptable in any way, I'm just trying to explain why this book isn't given a keeper grade as much as a part of me is solely tempted to. I really like this story. The characters are developed adequately, the romance is satisfying, the plot is built up and winded some most adequately. Oh, you have no idea how pleased I am that there is a story here instead of a threadbare plot that exists just to get the characters to have sex. The sex doesn't even happen until the characters have ample time to get adjusted to the fact that they want to jump each other's bones.
In short, from the first alphabet to the last full stop, Moon Over Bourbon Street is an enjoyable story with enough substance to pack a pretty hard punch. It's not some "quickly written on the lap top during the author's day job lunch hour toilet break" flimsy excuse of a "sexy short/novella" - it has a story to tell me. I really won't mind seeing some kind of series spawning from this story if these sequels are going to be at the very least similar in quality to this particular story.
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