|Sometimes an author overuses a plot theme and in the case of this entry into the Chesapeake Shores series, Woods really overuses a theme. For this reason, I found myself bored at times and wishing for the end. And it is for that reason, that I have to warn you to read this one only if you are a real fan of the series.
Jess O’Brien is one of the O’Briens that make up the bulk of the series stories. She is the daughter who was only 7 when mother Megan left the family. Jess has some unresolved feelings about her mother, her father Mick, her older sister who raised her and most of all, about her own personal cross to bear; Jess is ADHD. This affliction definitely impacts her life. She was often seen as irresponsible and many times felt that everyone just wanted her to fix things and make it all go away. It was only with some loving influences like her grandmother and some inventive teaching that helped her finish school.
Jess owns the local hotel/inn and is determined to make it work, especially since she almost drove the inn into bankruptcy. Her sister has taken over her finances and helped her set up both boundaries and a checks and balance system that works for both of them. Her friend, who also happens to be her chef, has also been a good sounding board and someone who appreciates all the work she has put in to make things work.
Her hero is none other than her lifelong friend Will Lincoln. Will is a few years older and was friends with her brothers. He has “loved” Jess since he was fourteen. Everyone knows how he feels about her, except for Jess. Will is a psychologist and for some reason, Jess has always stated that Will makes her feel like he is ready to give her therapy. For that reason, he has always just been her friend and despite the fact that his feelings are strengthening, he has never pushed her.
The tale opens as Jess and two friends decide to try online dating. They hook into a local service called Lunch by the Bay, which happens to be operated by Will, unbeknownst to most. He decided to try some of his theories out and started the dating service. In fact, he is hoping this will take his mind off Jess, and just maybe he might actually meet someone who appreciates him. But when his first date is spent wondering and actually talking about Jess, he changes his mind and sets off to win her.
In and of itself, this is not a bad plotline. Unfortunately there are two other couples featured or almost featured that fall under this same thing. Do we or don’t we? Jess’s uncle Thomas and a friend who is almost forty is one such couple. They were introduced in the previous book and their romance is actually the best of the bunch. They worry about their age difference and the impact their relationship might have on the family. They are cute together and the book is generally engaging when they are in the forefront.
The other couple is one of those that have been in several of the books, but there has been no resolution to their story. Mack (a cousin of Jess’s) and his long time non-girlfriend Susie have been dating/non-dating for almost a year. They each refuse to acknowledge their relationship as more than a friendship. Yet they both have angst over it and often talk to their friends and especially Will to help them out. I haven’t figured out their background in the stories I have read and so I found myself skimming when they were involved. A sneak at the next storyline shows they will be featured in the next installment. My hope is that more details are given and their story does a better job of pulling in the reader.
As the tale ends, there is an HEA, as one might expect. It is even kind of cute and romantic. But the story lost me well in and I struggled to stay in tune with two characters that just never captured my attention. Woods has written better and I hope the future holds more of that rather than of this tale. Moonlight Cove is not the best of this series, by far.