Author of the beloved Half Moon Hollow series of vampire romances (Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs), Molly Harper has created a standalone paranormal romance in which a dilapidated haunted house could bring star-crossed lovers together—if it doesn’t kill them first!
When Nina Linden is hired to landscape a private island off the New England coast, she sees it as her chance to rebuild her failing business after being cheated by her unscrupulous ex. She never expects that her new client, software mogul Deacon Whitney, would see more in her than just a talented gardener. Deacon has paid top dollar to the crews he’s hired to renovate the desolate Whitney estate—he had to, because the bumps, thumps, and unexplained sightings of ghostly figures in nineteenth-century dress are driving workers away faster than he can say “Boo.”
But Nina shows no signs of being scared away, even as she experiences some unnerving apparitions herself. And as the two of them work closely together to restore the mansion’s faded glory, Deacon realizes that he’s found someone who doesn’t seem to like his fortune more than himself—while Nina may have finally found the one man she can trust with her bruised and battered heart.
But something on the island doesn’t believe in true love…and if Nina and Deacon can’t figure out how to put these angry spirits to rest, their own love doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance.
Mass Market Paperback, 318 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by Pocket Books
Two and a half stars: A book with a good ghostly mystery, but it lacks humor and the romances are lackluster.
Nina can't shake the feeling of foreboding that sneaks up on her once she sets foot on Crane Island. It doesn't help that she was seasick on the boat ride over, and then once she arrived at the house, she thought she saw a shadowy figure on the roof. Still, Nina desperately needs this job, so she is determined to stick it out and do the best landscaping she can in order to help restore the Whitney estate for billionaire Deacon Whitney. Luckily, Nina isn't alone, and she is relieved to have found a kindred spirit in Cindy, who was hired to do the indoor decorating and renovation. Jake, Deacon's long time best friend, is also along to help. Unfortunately, once they are settled, strange things start happening. Is the Whitney Estate haunted, or worse yet, cursed?
What I Liked:
- Better Homes and Hauntings is a strong departure from Ms. Harper's normal fare. While this book doesn't feature any paranormal creatures such as werewolves and vampires, it does have a strong ghostly presence. I liked the ghosts and the mystery surrounding the house.
- The atmosphere if perfect for the story. Think an old decaying mansion rumored to be haunted, set on an isolated island only accessible by boat or helicopter. The decrepit mansion along with its troublesome past and inexplicable occurrences provides an excellent backdrop for a ghostly mystery.
- Once the gang establishes itself on the island, ghostly episodes start happening. I enjoyed the ghost presence, and I liked unraveling the mystery surrounding the ghosts.
- This book is told via five view points: Nina, Deacon, Jake, Cindy and Dotty. Even though it took a bit of time to adjust to the narrations, all done in third person, I found that I liked getting inside each character's head. Especially when it came to the ghost experiences.
- I liked the way the past blended with the present in order to present the history of the Whitney family, and to establish the mystery. There are some interesting twists at the end before the big finale.
- The ending draws to a nice close without a cliffhanger or undone story lines. This is a stand alone book.
And The Not So Much:
- Having previously read Ms. Harper, I went into this one expecting a fun, light story full of humor and snark. Unfortunately, there is little humor, and I found that I missed the fun, lightheartedness that I am used to from this author.
- There are two romances, and I didn't think that either was well executed. Both felt hurried and thrown together, one was more believable than the other because there was a history, but then the reason the two split in the past wasn't well explained. The other romance felt a bit too much like insta love and it moved way to quickly for my taste.
- There were a couple of things that just didn't work for me, one of those was the whole story line regarding the villain from Nina's past. I didn't think it was realistic that he could come and go on the island, supposedly lined with security cameras. Furthermore, the story line didn't connect well with the story, and I could have done without it.
- There was just something missing from this one. I liked the ghost mystery, but overall, I felt the plot was weak, the characters underdeveloped, the romances lackluster, little humor and a story that wasn't well executed. I was expecting far better from Ms. Harper.
Better Homes and Hauntings was a book I picked up hoping for a light, fun read, but what a got was a book with an interesting ghost mystery, but it failed to impress. If you have not read this author before, this is not the book to try. I was disappointed in this one, and I can't recommend it, unless you want a ghost story. Still even then, I would recommend borrowing the book. If you want to experience Ms. Harper, try her Naked Werewolf Series or Jane Jameson Series.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.