Moon Over Water
I’ve not read Debbie Macomber before today, but I am aware of her reputation as an author who has led many readers into the romance genre. I sought out reviews of her other books, just to give myself an idea of what to expect, and was surprised to find myself sorting through a real mixed bag. When I was assigned Moon Over Water, I thought the time had come for me to judge for myself. To say this book was a major disappointment is an understatement.
Lorraine Dancy is a nurse/practitioner whose mother has recently died in a car crash. Upon her death, Lorraine discovers that her father, Thomas, who supposedly died of leukemia when Lorraine was just a child, is alive and living in Mexico. Lorraine, who does not wear an engagement ring but instead, wears and engagement necklace (is this a new trend I’m just not aware of?), slips her mother’s wedding band onto her own finger (4th finger, left hand – not on the right hand, where I would have placed it), and tells her nice-guy fiancé, Gary, she’s heading to Mexico to meet the father she’s never known.
Okay, Thomas Dancy, still legally married to Lorraine’s mother, is a Vietnam vet who is living with a Mexican woman his daughter’s age, and by whom he has had three sons. Thomas went AWOL and fled to Mexico, leaving his wife and small daughter in America. The couple decided it was better to have Lorraine believe her father was dead than a traitor to his country. The reasons for Thomas’ actions and subsequent move to Mexico are plausible, but the reasons for telling Lorraine he was dead, and for not having his wife and daughter with him Mexico, are not convincing at all. Thomas’ friend, Jack Keller, is a former mercenary (of all things!) whose vast library consists of magazines such as Guns and Ammo, and Soldier of Fortune. When Jack meets Lorraine, no visible attraction occurs between the two and in fact, Jack spends more time lamenting the loss of his former true love, Marcie, than he does thinking about Lorraine.
Lorraine is accused by the Mexican police of stealing a valuable Mayan artifact, so Thomas tells Jack to get Lorraine back to the U.S. on his boat, skipping customs, as fast as possible. Too-stupid-to-live Lorraine, leaves the boat and is immediately accosted by señor stereotypical drug-lord Carlos, who tears off Lorraine’s blouse and tries to rape and murder her. Jack intervenes and ends up shot, his wounds serious. Still later, they run across Carlos again, who again tears off Lorraine’s blouse and tries to rape and murder her. Jack intervenes and falls off a cliff, and is even more seriously wounded. This is all followed by an even more contrived separation of our two “lovers,” that had me ready to slam this book into the nearest wall. Nothing about this book made any real sense.
Oh, there’s so much more … The dialogue is stilted, silly, simplistic; all the characters are complete stereotypes. The humor stretches and fails. Each character has his own point of view, including Carlos, Jason (the Mayan art thief), Thomas, Gary, and Marjorie (Gary’s, oh, never mind). There is instant and totally contrived conflict between Lorraine and Jack, and a Big Misunderstanding revolving around The Wedding Ring Lorraine wears (for no other reason than to perpetuate the Big Misunderstanding that she is married and therefore unavailable to Jack). The lead characters, as well as the secondaries, are all stupid and unsympathetic. What’s more, the men do not come off as men at all. The female author’s voice comes through loud and clear – I was aware at every word that the author was a woman, writing as a woman would write who was trying to make her male characters sound like men. But they don’t. Except for one short, glossed-over love scene on the second-to-the-last page, this book could easily have been placed on the third grade reading shelf and would not have been a challenge at all.
Frankly, I would rather not have read this book, because I would rather not have written this review. Why? Because this author’s “niceness” comes through in her Author’s Note and in her characters’ emotions. I hate that I have to pan this book, but I do, and there you have it. I’ll simply say that, if you want to read Debbie Macomber, this is probably not the place to start. If you’re a true-blue fan, then I hope you’ll find more to like here than I did, which was nothing.