Friday, February 10, 2017

TEXAS GOTHIC


Review of TEXAS GOTHIC by ROSEMARY CLEMENT-MOORE
(first in the GOODNIGHT FAMILY series)

Amy comes from a family of witches, but doesn’t seem to have any magical gifts of her own. She hopes ranch-sitting for her aunt in Texas will be a nice, normal break from her crazy life. Well, she can forget that dream when she stumbles across a skeleton, starts finding herself haunted by angry ghosts, and can’t help antagonizing the cute - if tightly wound - guy next-door.

I’m not normally one for ghost stories, but I met this author at a conference and wanted to give her book a try. So glad I did. Themes are an easy way to sort what we expect we’ll like, but they’re not everything. And this is so my kind of book!

Above all, I loved the novel for the protagonist and her unique but familiar voice. Amy comes from one of my favorite character molds: a strong-willed girl who hides whatever insecurities she does have beneath a thick layer of humor. Despite being recognizable as a type, though, Amy still feels like a distinct individual with her own quirks and surprises worked into her personality.

Oh, but the humor. The writing here feels one of a kind, filled with unusual phrases that tell us plenty about Amy’s state of mind while earning laughs. In some ways, Amy puts me in mind of Brigit Jones a little, always finding herself in embarrassing situations and unable to filter herself as much as she would like. Let me share the first line, for example: “The goat was in the tree again.”

There’s a strong romance element running through this novel. I’ve mentioned plenty of times that I like romance, but I’m a very critical romance reader. When a romance meets my high standards, it can be my favorite part of a story, but when it doesn’t it’s where I’ll hit the hardest in a review. TEXAS GOTHIC falls in the former category. Neither character is portrayed as “perfect” but nor is the guy an idolized jerk. In other words, the author avoids all the cliché pitfalls of writing romance that can wind me up and instead presents a sweet story about two people who challenge each other and both come out better for it.  

Oh, oh, oh! And as a crazy dog lady, I loved what a big role Amy’s pack of rowdy dogs plays in the story. Easy tip to make me like a book more: add a dog. Even more: add another dog. It’s that simple.

I didn’t realize this is the first in a series. For one thing, the author does an excellent job writing this first book so it can be read as a standalone. No cliffhanger ending here! Nevertheless, I cannot wait to read the second.

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