Review: Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper

Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pages: 318
Source: book provided by the publisher for review

 

 

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.

 

Review: I have to honestly say I have never read anything quite like this story. That said, you’ll have to keep in mind that I don’t “do” horror and most of my paranormal reading has been contained to vamps, shifters and the occasional fairy. So, when we asked Molly to be a part of our anniversary celebration and her publisher asked for a review, I was rather curious and said yes.

The blurb states that this is Nina and Deacon’s story. And while I suppose that’s true, there are really about 8 main characters. You have Deacon (the home owner), Jake (architect and bestie), Nina (landscaper), Cindy (organizational & cleaning guru), Dotty (cousin & aspiring author), and then there are the resident ghosts (Catherine, Gerald and Jack). Phew! Throw in a couple more minor characters (the contractor, interior designer and Nina’s ex-boss) and we have a party. Early on it was rather confusing sifting through so many characters… especially Jake and Jack (such similar names!), but it did get better. Each character was definitely unique and that made for quite an entertaining tale.

So as the blurb states, Deacon as brought together this crew of folks to restore his family’s estate which is on a isolated island. Part of that work requires living on this island with a bunch of strangers. As they’re doing their thing, sparks are flying, ghosts are popping up all over the place and freaky things are happening. Dotty is a firm believer that there is a curse on her family and is determined to break the curse. And since the others are experiencing paranormal activity, she recruits them into helping her solve the old family mystery. Did her (and Deacon’s) great-great grandfather kill his wife?

I did enjoy the plot. Every once in a while I’d shake my head and wonder why folks were staying on this haunted island. I guess they just have more guts that I do. And sometimes the story got a little too convoluted for my taste. With about 75 pages to go, I remember remarking to someone that I’d just gotten super confused with the twists and turns. But seeing as it’s a romance (and at this time not part of a series), we know there’s a happily ever after and a solving of the mystery in our sights. I’ll also say that while this is a romance, the romance was definitely secondary to the mystery.

All in all, I did like the book. I have several of Ms Harper’s books on my shelf and I’ve been putting off reading them for some reason. But after having read this tale and really liking the author’s voice (she has an off beat sense of humor) that I’m curious to read more. And I’d be even more interested to see if this turns out to be book 1 in a series and we might get to revisit Jake, Cindy and Dotty.