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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Guests on South Battery by Karen White

Setting: Charleston, SC
Genre: Paranormal
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: January 10, 2017

I did feel as though I'd stepped into an ongoing saga as I started The Guests on South Battery. I stopped and checked and sure enough, this is the latest in a five-book series. Don't get me wrong, the book hooked me, but I also felt that I'd missed some backstory between Melanie and Jack.

In The Guests on South Battery, Melanie and Jack's twins are now 10 months old, so Melanie's heading back to work as a realtor. It's hard enough leaving her babies, but it's even harder when Melanie's first client is a young woman who inherited a local house that seems to be haunted. Melanie's client, Jayne, only wants Melanie to sell the house and find something newer for Jayne to buy, but it's not going to be that easy. Melanie sees the spirits, but there seems to be an invisible curtain that's preventing her from getting a full sense of why this house is being haunted.

Melanie and her mother are no strangers to spirits, both see or sense ghosts who need their help. This time, however, it's going to take teamwork to figure out why Jayne's house is haunted and what they can do to set things right.

I admit that this book had the perfect mixture of creepiness, romance, and character development. I found myself hooked, even though I felt some backstory was missing. There were times I couldn't get Melanie's reluctance to be honest with her husband.

There was another thing that may have to do with me missing the first four books. Melanie is obsessed with ABBA. After a few mentions of the song "Mamma Mia" and the band itself, I felt like I was being hit over the head with ABBA references and didn't get why. I admit the music is a throwback to my younger years, so I get that, but to bring it up almost every chapter was tiresome.

Despite these niggles, I was hooked by The Guests on South Battery and couldn't put it down. That in itself deserves very high praise and is a good reason to get this and the other books in this series.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Take Me Back by Rosalind James

Setting: Paradise, Idaho
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: February 28, 2017

Hallie Cavanaugh never planned to step foot back into Paradise, Idaho.  When her father suddenly dies, she is required to attend his funeral or else.  That was the way of her father - his way or no way.  She learned that all too well when she was younger.  Her mother divorced her father way back when, leaving her alone to face the full brunt of his ruthlessness.  Still, she went to see what it was all about, planning on returning to Washington as soon as it was over.

However, Henry Cavanaugh was even ruthless from his grave.  In order for her get her inheritance, she had to stay in Paradise, in his house, for six months straight.  That might be all fine and good except the will also stated she couldn't have sex with Jim Lawson for the said six months, among other things.  Well, she had no plans on doing that (again).  She remembered all too well what happened last time.

Jim Lawson, widower, father and deputy sheriff of Paradise, also had no plans on having sex with Hallie again.  He had only showed up for the will hearing because his half-brother Cole was required to attend.  Seeing Hallie again, even after all these years, brings back memories he'd rather forget.  He has a daughter now and can't afford to get tangled up with Hallie.  Except you can't always choose what your heart wants, even fighting hard against it knowing no good will come of it.  Yet when it becomes clear that Hallie's life is in danger, Jim will do everything in his power to make sure she's safe.

A mix of intrigue, romance, and family drama, TAKE ME BACK has a bit of everything that keeps the pages turning.  Jim and Hallie's previous relationship plays a big part of who they are today.  Hallie's father wasn't a nice man, and there is a bit of intrigue as to how he died, who wanted him dead and then comes after Hallie.  (This is not a spoiler because it happens in the first chapter of the book.)  The story follows Jim and Hallie's rediscovery of each other as well as other secondary characters who support the storyline.   Each one is complex, with unique personalities and reasons for being in the story.  The sexual tension is quite palpable and the drama unfolds nicely to escalate into a climactic ending.  Overall, well written and full of little twists and plenty of action.   

Jennifer Jones
4 1/2 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Girl 99 by Andy Jones

Setting: England
Genre: General Fiction/Humor
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: February 14, 2017

When his girlfriend dumps him right before Christmas, Tom's not as devastated as one might think. He's had plenty of experience with women - from affairs with co-workers to distant acquaintances - and Sadie was number 85, so she's definitely not the first and won't be the last. It's this little tidbit that leads to the dare Tom accepts.

His friend sets an unusual wager on the table. Tom has a few months to bring the total number of women he's slept with to an even 100. He takes on the challenge, as he knows it won't be any problem at all.

Just as everything's going great, Tom comes across number 99. Verity is more than he ever expected to find. She may just be the woman he's been looking for.

The humor in Girl 99 is there and definitely has the British wit I grew up with and appreciate. That said, I did struggle to connect with Tom. I loved him at first, especially at Christmas when he interacted with his much younger sister. When it came to women, however, I had a hard time liking him, and then the bet wasn't something I admired either.

That said, the characters did come to life and definitely had me either loving them or really disliking them. The writing was very slow to start, but as I settled in, it became hard to put down. Over all, this is a book I liked, but I'm a step away from saying I loved it.