Author: Molly Harper
Published by: Pocket Books
Publication Date: June 24, 2014
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.
I finally read a Molly Harper book! Everyone seems to love her Naked Werewolf and Jane Jameson series, so I made it a mission to read something by her. When I saw Better Homes and Hauntings, a new standalone, I jumped on it. Since this was my first attempt at reading one of her books, I don’t have anything to compare the quality of it to. I honestly don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. While I liked it, I wasn’t overly impressed.
– I really liked the setting. Deacon Whitney hired a team to renovate his family’s ancient mansion, which sits on its own private island miles off of Newport. The main characters are secluded on the island with the creepy 100+ year old mansion and the ghosts that reside there. Being so far away from society added a nice element of spookiness.
– The characters … The book blurb only mentions Nina and Deacon, but there are actually five that are instrumental to the story. We get all five POVs, plus the occasional sixth (who will remain unidentified here). It’s these five who live on the island during renovations. There’s Deacon, the nerdy comic book loving billionaire. Nina, the landscaper extraordinaire. Jake, Deacon’s architect best friend. Cindy, the master organizer and owner of a successful cleaning service. Dotty, Deacon’s whimsical cousin. The dynamic within the group was pretty fun. They all hit it off and became good friends, so it was nice to have a close group who liked each other and joked around. They were all good characters, but I liked Jake the most.
– There’s some romance between Deacon and Nina that was adorkable. They’re both socially awkward, so it made for some cute moments. There’s also a humorous loath-to-love storyline with Jake and Cindy. Well, one of them loathed anyway.
– There is a murder mystery that goes along with the island that involves Deacon and Dotty’s great-great-great-grandparents. I loved this, it was probably my favorite aspect of the book. Dotty plans to write a book about the great mystery that surrounds their 3x-grandparants, and hopefully find proof that will vindicate them.
– If you couldn’t already deduce from the title, there are ghosts haunting the island/house. So yes, there is a paranormal factor at play, and it doesn’t always play nice. It wasn’t scary, but there are a couple of semi-creepy moments. The ghostly beings are all part of the mystery I just mentioned.
– Since this is a Molly Harper book, I expected there to be humor. Better Homes and Hauntings wasn’t exactly a laugh riot, but it did have some funny moments and humorous quips between characters.
The not so loveable:
– Quitting the book crossed my mind a couple times in the beginning. It was a bit boring and I had a hard time getting into it. It’s not a long book, but it felt like it was taking me a long time to get through it, at least the first 40-50%.
– As I mentioned, there are multiple POVs, but it’s also in third person. I don’t mind this at all. However, there were parts that were awkward when I read them. For instance, in the very beginning we are getting Nina’s perspective as she talked to Jake. She said something, and then her mouth was described as lush. It made it sound like she described her own mouth as lush, which seemed silly. But then I figured it must have been an observation by Jake, even though there’s nothing to imply that. There are quite a few instances of this, but I eventually adjusted and just went with the random crossover POV snippets.
– I did read the ARC, so hopefully this will be cleaned up, but there were a few discrepancies that annoyed me a little. One example is when Nina and Deacon have an in-depth conversation about her ex-boss and how he put a bid in for the job on the island. Names included. Then literally a page or two later she wondered how Deacon figured out who her ex-boss was and had his info so quick. I mean, really?
Overall, Better Homes and Hauntings was good once I pushed through the boring. There was a nice blend of cute and funny, with a side of creepy. Even though this is the only book by Harper that I’ve read, I’m betting this isn’t her best. So I still plan to read one or both of her other series.