And so I'm back to books. I wasn't going to blog about Cindy Cruciger's debut novel, but I've already had 2 people on my book trading list ask - so why not enlighten the rest of the blogosphere with my humble opinion?
First let's talk about this cover. The first time I saw this cover I thought it was a YA novel. The heroine is supposed to be in her 30s. This girl looks like 15-year-old jailbait playing hookey and going to the beach for the day. The weird guy in the clouds could be the lecherous old man spying on her and her friends sunbathing.
Hell, I'm 30 and I'm ready to sell my soul to Satan for a body like that.
Tara Cole runs her own website called Revenge-Gifts.com. She specializes in getting even. If you want a decorative pillow filled with allergy-inducing stuffing or festive urns, she's your gal. However, Tara's bad karma may have finally caught up with her. Besides the two ghosts sharing her Florida Keys bungalow, someone is trying to put a hex on her. The black kitten was cute, but the goat and rooster have worn out their welcome. And what is up with the mysterious Howard Payne? He suddenly arrives on the scene and wants to go into business with Tara. Sure the sex is hot, but is he behind the hexing?
First, let's concentrate on what works shall we? Cruciger has a fantastic voice. Love it. Tara is also a great heroine. Let's be honest here - Romance Novel Land is often populated by too-good-to-be true heroines who are merely waiting for the Pope to grant them sainthood. Tara is a bitch - bless her heart. She's also sarcastic, funny and deviously wicked.
What doesn't work? Just about everything else. The plotting and pacing are a mess. Even when I don't factor in my parents' visit, this 272 page Advanced Reader Copy took me forever to read. The majority of the book just doesn't go anywhere. The hexing is sort of fun, but it's written in sort of a "ho-hum" kind of way. Also, the sex is super-hot, but the romance isn't fully fleshed out. Howard is a hottie, but given his tragic past I couldn't figure out why he wasn't more gun shy....especially when you factor in Tara's often abrasive personality.
I do think Cruciger is an author to watch. Unlike some authors who rely on their "hip" voice to carry a whole book - her characters don't speak in constant, crass one-liners. There are actual honest-to-goodness conversations going on here. I also loved the Florida Keys setting. It was different, tropical, and eccentric enough to carry the lite-paranormal flavor of the story.
All in all, a mixed bag.