Maggie Wright has spent her whole life being put down by her mother and playing second-fiddle to her sister. Both of them are beautiful, blonde, former beauty queens who live seemingly perfect lives, so they can't stand that Maggie is a red-head who chose a different path as a history teacher. Having just broken up with her most recent boyfriend, Maggie feels her prospects of finding a man in her small hometown of Petal, Georgia are slim at best. There are those four gorgeous Chase boys, but she figures they're way out of her league until Shane Chase accidentally causes Maggie to spill her order of chili cheese fries all over herself at the local bar where she hangs out with her girlfriends. Shane acts like a complete jerk about it, but later comes to apologize for his behavior and ask Maggie out. Unfortunately, Shane is still smarting from a break-up with his cheating ex-fiancée and can't bring himself to trust Maggie, so things don't go well for them. Little did Maggie know though that she'd gained the attention of yet another Chase brother.
When Shane showed an interest in the lovely Maggie, Kyle Chase backed off. He's been biding his time, ready to step in if his brother screws up. After Shane ran out on a date with Maggie, didn't call her for weeks, and went out on a date with another woman, Kyle finally decides she's now his for the taking. He asks her out, offering the exclusivity his brother was reluctant to give, and couldn't be happier when she says yes. Slowly but surely, he finds himself falling in love for the first time in his life, but Maggie has another admirer whose interest has turned into an obsession. Will Kyle and Maggie finally find the happiness for which they've been searching so long, or will her stalker put an end to their budding romance?
Giving Chase is the first book in Lauren Dane's Chase Brothers series and the first I've read by her. The story had a lot of potential, and I can see why some fans really enjoyed it. The Chase family provides a wonderfully loving, heart-warming atmosphere, the characters are likable, and there's just enough suspense on the side to keep things interesting. However, the technical aspects of the writing itself could have used a lot more polish. Either this book was never edited at all before going to print, or it was very poorly done. The narrative could be rather awkward at times, and the dialog didn't always have a natural flow. There are lots of typos and repetitious word choices. The author way overuses 'and' as well as 'just,' and all the characters, especially Maggie, were 'snorting' so much I thought they might turn into pigs.;-) There were places where the writing could have been cleaned up and tightened to be more concise, and the author nearly drove me crazy with the way she constantly connected two complete sentences with a comma instead of using a period. Readers who can overlook these types of errors will probably like Giving Chase a lot, but for me, they added up to one huge distraction to the storytelling, and made me drop a half-star off the rating.
Maggie is a young woman with a bit of an inferiority complex due to her mother constantly putting her down with regards to her looks and her life choices. She's always played second fiddle to her beauty queen sister and wouldn't dare dream she'd be able to snag a man as gorgeous as one of the Chase brothers, so when, not one, but two of them start paying attention to her, it's a little hard for her to believe. Then she also finds herself with a crazed stalker. I liked Maggie overall, but felt like her characterization was uneven. She's a contradictory mix of personality traits. One minute she seems shy, sweet and insecure; the next she's a mouthy spitfire. Also, for being relatively inexperienced sexually, she doesn't seem at all shy about taking the lead in her love-making with Kyle, and for being purportedly self-conscious about her looks, she doesn't seem the least bit concerned about getting naked with him. In my opinion, someone who grew up with a hateful mother and sister like Maggie's would likely have been deeply tortured, but she doesn't come off seeming like she is. I would have liked to see her start off lacking confidence and then have her relationship with Kyle and the love his family shows her slowly but surely increase her self-esteem. This would have been a more realistic track for her personal growth, but instead, she flip-flops between occasionally putting herself down and mouthing off at various people nearly every chance she gets.
Kyle was a wonderful hero, who was sweet, kind, loving, and loyal. There was virtually nothing not to like about him, except that I felt he got cheated on page time. He and Maggie don't really get to know one another until about a third of the way into the story, because she's dating other men, one of whom was his brother, Shane. In my opinion, not having Kyle and Maggie together for such a long time impacted their overall relationship building, but once they finally get together, they heat up the pages pretty quickly. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot to know about Kyle except that he's a great guy and comes from a fabulous family. I was somewhat bothered by the lack of development for his character, but it would be impossible not to like someone who's such a great sweet talker and is as tender and gentle as he is with Maggie.
I couldn't really figure out why the author chose to have Maggie date two other men before Kyle. Knowing from the cover blurb that Kyle is the hero made it impossible to become even remotely invested in either relationship. First Maggie goes out with Alex, which was a very obvious set-up for the stalker sub-plot. There are lots of other ways Ms. Dane could have set up a stalker. He could just as easily have been a co-worker or someone else Maggie knew or even a stranger, rather than someone she'd dated, or if the author was going to go that route, perhaps, the dating could have taken place before the story opened instead of taking valuable time away from the hero and heroine. After Maggie wisely dumps Alex, she then goes out with Shane. This one really stumped me. The only thing I could think of was that the author was trying to show Maggie's uncertainties about having one Chase brother, much less two, attracted to her, but she could have accomplished the same thing by more fully developing Maggie's backstory and bringing out the deep emotional wounds she must have felt at constantly being told she was inferior to her sister. One other thing that occurred to me was that maybe it was a way to make Maggie look more slutty to Alex, fueling his stalker rage, but really, who's to know the mind of a psycho anyway. Whatever the reasons, all this part of the story accomplished for me was to make me impatient for Maggie and Kyle to get together. It also placed some doubts in my mind about Shane, who becomes the hero of the next book in the series, because even though Kyle tells Maggie that Shane has been messed up since his ex-fiancée cheated on him, he still came off looking like a complete jerk at first. Thankfully, Shane did apologize later and appeared genuinely regretful of his actions, but it seemed unnecessary to paint him in such an unfavorable light to begin with.
Much like the main characters, I felt that the villains were underdeveloped as well. Maggie's mother and sister are positively cruel and vicious toward her, but little reason is given for their behavior except that they're Stepford-esque, former beauty queens who are simply the 'mean girls.' Of course, the main villain is Alex, but pigeon-holing him into the role of a stalker felt rather forced. On his first date with Maggie, he seemed like a very nice and gentlemanly young man who treated her with respect. In fact, at that point, he seemed like the kind of guy who would make a good beta hero, but then he literally turned on a dime to become controlling and obsessive toward her with no real explanation for the rapid shift in his behavior. Also, the quiet librarian being cast as the psycho was pretty clichéd and kind of offensive to a shy, bookish introvert like myself, especially with no other background information being given on him. We don't even find out until late in the story that he'd been stalking other women for years.
Giving Chase is a very fast-paced story. There were times I wished the author would slow down and offer a little more description and introspection. I'm also not a fan of the head-hopping POVs, because it makes it difficult to stay in the emotion of a scene when I keep getting thrown back and forth between the hero and heroine and sometimes even secondary characters. Additionally, there were times where I felt like the author was telling more than showing, and I sensed very little difference in the four Chase brothers personalities. However, despite it's many weaknesses, I can't deny that Giving Chase had a certain appeal, mainly owing to the hero and his loving family. This book was on the short side, so Ms. Dane easily could have added more to it to build up the plot and characters. If these things had been fleshed out a little better and there hadn't been so many glaring technical errors, I could readily have seen it becoming a keeper. As is though, it was more of an OK read, but still good enough that I will probably continue with the series at some point.
Note: Though not erotic in content, the loves scenes are on the spicy side and contain some fairly frank language that is more commonly seen in erotic romances.
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