Thursday 21 August 2014

Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper - Book Review
From the Blurb:

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.

The Review:

Nina accepts a job landscaping an estate on an isolated island. Unfortunately, even to the most rational mind, the estate shows every sign of being haunted. More fortunately, the estate's owner, Deacon, is hot, and interested in Nina, and there may be some greenhouse semi-nudity. Less fortunately, the ghosts of the estate are intent on using Nina and Deacon to recreate the previous inhabitant's gruesome murder. It's not exactly the calming landscaping job Nina signed up for.

I'm a huge fan of Molly Harper. Her Nice Girls series is paranormal perfection, and every thing she writes makes me laugh. So I was pretty excited to read her new standalone novel Better Homes and Hauntings. Whether you are reading her paranormal fiction or contemporary romance, you can pretty much guess what you're going to get from Molly Harper - far from making her stories boring, this is why I keep going back to them. You know you'll get a snarky heroine with that terrific combination of awkwardness and laugh out loud moments in an addictive plot. Every. Single. Time.

In terms of relatable characters, Better Homes and Hauntings is no different to Molly Harper's other books. Though I think Nina has a little more background and depth than some of her other protagonists, she's still quirky, fun and a little hopeless - so I couldn't help but think, "Ah, yes, that would so be me." - usually when something terrible happened.

Don't get me wrong, Molly Harper's characters aren't all the same. Even within Better Homes and Hauntings there are three different female characters who bring the pages to life with their individuality. While Nina is the geeky, slightly hopeless landscaper, Cindy is the obsessively organized cleaner, and Dotty is the overexcite-able writer. They are all completely different, but you have to want to be book-friends with each of them.

Dotty, who I just adored, is the only one of the gang who doesn't have a romance in this story, and I kind of found myself hoping that Molly Harper might give her her own off-shoot spooky romance story - I'll just keep crossing my fingers, because she was my favorite character.

The primary romance is between Nina and Deacon, and it's this romance that carries the paranormal plot as well. Nina is struggling to put her life back together after some business and personal troubles, and wealthy software developer, Deacon, is only too happy to help. Both these two are total geeks and I loved all the little superhero references and silliness that their banter included.

Deacon also happens to be my favorite kind of hero - the sexy nerd. Yep, swoon-worthy-geek is the book boyfriend combo most likely to make me swoon. He's got all the trappings of the protective alpha male, as well as a collection of sci-fi figurines. ...apparently that's what rocks my boat. Let us speak of it no more.

The second romance is between Jake and Cindy. It's not quite as fleshed out as Nina and Deacon's romance, but it's a fun subplot and adds to the Scooby gang + romance vibe of this book. Unlike Nina and Deacon, Jake and Cindy have more of a I-hate-you-but-actually-I-love-you romance happening, so even though it's not the focus of the story, it is quite fiery.

Beyond the romance and characters, the paranormal plot of Better Homes and Hauntings is quite different to Molly Harper's other books. Typically, her stories are pretty light-hearted fun, and this book still has that element, but it's also got an additional gothic aspect that took me pleasantly by surprise. There are a lot of moments in Better Homes and Hauntings that are distinctly creepy, and although I'm an avid reader of horror, I chose not to read this book at night! Gothic romance is one of my all time favorite genres, and there's no doubt that Better Homes and Hauntings fits right into the modern take on this classic theme. Just awesome.

If you're not into the scarier side of this book, I'd recommend trying Molly Harper's Nice Girls series that is so fantastic, but for those who like a little gothic in their romance, it doesn't get much better than Better Homes and Hauntings.

It's worth noting that I started this book as an ebook, but then discovered it had been released as an audiobook and finished it in that format. Amanda Ronconi is the narrator. She's also the narrator of all Molly Harper's other books and she just does them so well. She's all snark and sarcasm, making her and Molly Harper the ideal writer/reader combo.

Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper is a paranormal romance released by Pocket Books on June 24, 2014.

Find this book at: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Goodreads