I wonder whether Geordi's demotion is an example of some writers being stuck in the TV mindset. Its understandable why you wouldn't want multiple captains in the TV show as it would be confusing but in a novel you can easily explain why.
The problem is that the original TNG crew is slowly breaking apart because the characters move on with their careers. For the TNG fans, that means the loss of these characters, as they are leaving the Big E.
Moreover, not every TNG star can have his/her own series.
I'm okay with Geordi taking a back step for the moment but the Tamala/Leah thing needs explanation.