Reviewed by: Jo
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
A fun mixture of flirty, snarky chick-lit and old school gothic ghost story, Better Homes and Hauntings has a little bit of everything to satisfy a wide variety of tastes.
Looking for a sweet ‘watch as they fall in love’ romance? You got it. Want more of a sexual tension ‘I hate to love you’ vibe? That’s there too. Looking for snarky dialogue and geeky references? Check. Or perhaps you want those moments that make you think twice about going to the bathroom alone in the middle of the night. *shudder* Done.
Billionaire creator and CEO of EyeDee, the latest social media smash-hit, Deacon Whitney is on a mission to bring his dilapidated ancestral home back to its former glory. The only problem is, all the people he’s hired before have basically run screaming after only a few days on the island where the old mansion stands.
Nina Linden is dedicated to making her landscaping business work, especially since it’s facing bankruptcy after a nasty case of identity theft. The Whitney job offers her a way out, not only financially but the contacts it could make her. The catch? She’s going to have to live on site until the job’s complete. She’s heard the campfire stories about Crane’s Nest, about the tragic murder and things that go bump in the night. But they’re just stories… Right?
I’m a big fan of Molly Harper’s paranormal romance series and while Better Homes and Hauntings fits in that category, it’s got a different flavor to Jane or Naked Were. More of a classic ghost story, this plays up on the creep factor, creaky floorboards and crazy poltergeist included. The pacing was fantastic and as the mysterious history of Crane’s Nest unfolded the tensions ratcheted up with each paranormal incident. The house felt like it’s own character, living and breathing with its own agenda. I had ‘the hair standing up on the back of my neck’ moments while reading this, a sure sign of a great ghostly tale.
The wonderful characters and sizzling dynamics perfectly balanced the darker tones. I loved watching Deacon and Nina fall for each other. Deacon’s slightly social awkward, dorky vibe was totally up my street (didn’t hurt that he’s a billionaire – just saying). Saying that, the fireworks actually came from Cindy and Jake, two other contractors on the island. They have some history (even if only one of them knows that) and the sniping sexual tension reaches boiling point. I also loved the inclusion of Dotty, Deacon’s flaky yet well-meaning cousin. Rather than a romantic subplot, Dotty’s journey is more of self-discovery, and made her one of my favorite characters. To be honest though, I liked them all!
The characters stories where mirrored in the mystery plot, making it feel much more connected to them specifically. It affects them all differently but ultimately brings them closer, helping them to work through some of the issues in their life off the island. I came away glad this was stand alone, as it had a very satisfying conclusion, not just in the plot but for the characters also.
Told with Molly Harper’s trademark witty humor, Better Homes and Hauntings is prefect holiday read (although if you’re vacationing in an old mansion maybe hold off until you get home!). It had me creeped out one minute and snorting with laughter the next. Being a stand alone it’s also a great way to sample Harpers writing before committing to a whole series.
Sexual content: sex