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.
Harper (How to Run with a Naked Werewolf) puts a spectral twist on this charming but convoluted standalone paranormal. Nina Linden hopes to restore her landscaping business's failing finances by joining a team doing a complete renovation of Crane's Nest. The supposedly haunted house is the ancestral home of the wealthy Deacon Whitney, who hopes to overcome the curse dooming all members of his family to failure. Others spending the next three months on Whitney Island, R.I., include architect Jake Rumson and his onetime girlfriend, "organizational guru" Cindy Ellis. Romance slowly blooms between Nina and Deacon, and between Jake and Cindy, even as they deal with mysterious noises and ghostly interference linked to a century-old murder. Harper front-loads her story with a memorable ensemble cast and a spooky, almost claustrophobic setting, and she keeps the ball rolling with subtle yet effective chemistry, but the narrative occasionally feels unfocused and overly busy.
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If you are a fan of Harper, you will find some of the ‘familiar’ humor and character development
I’m a fan of Harper’s Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs series: smart, funny, occasional lapses into near slapstick comedy, the AudioBook version is my retreat when I need to decompress. So I had high hopes for this PNR, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Many of the things that have come to be the “standard’ for this author are in this book: snarky humor, intriguing and offbeat characters, sweet and often awkward romances and solid world-building that describes the setting to give readers easily accessible visual references.
The Set Up: There is a house in grave disrepair on an island off the coast of New England. Owned by Deacon Whitney, a billionaire software code writer who created a social network, he’s decided the rumors of hauntings and some old family secrets will not hinder his desire to restore the estate. To that end, he hires a mix of people, from friends to family, to oversee and perform the renovation over the coming months. What he doesn’t count on is the fast friendships that are formed, the mysteries surrounding the family secret, or the rather bothersome spirits that are impeding all of the progress.
This story starts by introducing all of the characters and getting to know their voices and approach: a bit too much head-hopping to present the multiple perspectives did get confusing, but as the characters developed and their voices strengthened, it was easier to sort them out. As the story progressed, the interactions and interplay between the characters develops several distinct rhythms, which add to both the pacing and flow of the story. It felt like Harper needed a bit of time to warm up to the multiple POV storytelling: once warmed up, the story moves forward fairly well, even if some of the elements feel familiar.
Romances were adorable: Deacon and Nina’s awkwardness was enhanced by the ‘geek speak’ and Nina’s reluctance to trust yet another person after having been burned so badly kept them dancing about their attraction. While Jake and Cindy knew each other from before, their snarking and sniping at one another as they went from haters to friends to more was usually funny to watch, and their interactions felt real and possible.
With a rather G-rated set of ghosts and plenty of mystery to unravel in the Whitney family history, a rather off-kilter cousin who is gung-ho about EVERYTHING (but fortunately adorably so) and some wonderful descriptions of the house, island and one another, I enjoyed this story despite a bit of confusion early on. If you are a fan of Harper, you will find some of the ‘familiar’ humor and character development here: you just have to be a bit patient to let the story fall into place.
I received an eBook copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Good, but Evil Ghosts
I liked this Molly Harper book, but I was expecting the Ghosts from "Nice Girls" series by Molly Harper, not the ones in the book. My wife will finish reading the book in the daylight with all the house lights on.
The "Evil Spirits/ Curse" where not scary enough to keep the romance from being enjoyable.
If I came at this without reading previous Molly Harper, I would have found it different, enjoyable & grounded in current culture.
I guess I expected her usual quirky, totally over the top, little grounding in reality, but grounded in fun, friendship & meta awareness of the "Nice Girks" series resulting in the 4 of 5 star Rating.
I would like to read the Story of the Cousin's meeting & falling in love, but we will have to wait and see where Harper's writing Muse takes her.