Jack Donovan’s spirit has been trapped in his former home for about three decades, tormented by his ghost’s role in his...

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FIXING DESTINY

In Reichert’s debut paranormal romance, the first in a planned trilogy, a woman named Destiny flees her grief over her parents’ deaths for a fixer-upper house on the Maine coast, where she finds an unwelcome but alluring, spectral roommate.

Jack Donovan’s spirit has been trapped in his former home for about three decades, tormented by his ghost’s role in his fiancee’s suicide. He’s managed to drive out every subsequent tenant—but 29-year-old Destiny Harrison, newly arrived from Texas, stubbornly resists his spooky antics. She fell in love with the house just from pictures online, and now it’s hers; she didn’t travel thousands of miles to turn around now, so let Jack do what he will. He’s shocked by her matter-of-fact reaction and can’t help but be intrigued by her strength—not just of character. Having grown up helping with her father’s construction business, Destiny undertakes most of the major renovations herself, wielding a sledgehammer like the pro she is. Finally, Jack and Destiny come to an agreement: If she can find a way for him to make peace and move on—specifically, if she can find where his fiancee, Mary Kate, is buried—he’ll gladly do so. If not, she’ll give up the house, leaving it as a haunted relic. As Destiny investigates, she finds layers of secrets and complications. As she spends more time with Jack, she’s startled to realize they’re falling in love across the barrier of death. The romance is actually the least compelling aspect of the book; the deepening mystery of what happened to Mary Kate is the novel’s real heart. Destiny is a fantastic heroine, and Reichert doesn’t just pay lip service to the idea of her being a strong woman. Her initial attitude toward Jack’s attempts to haunt her and kick her out of the house is hilarious: “Sorry, darlin’. That’s just not going to happen,” she tells him. While their erotic connection doesn’t feel gratuitous, it’s not essential to this entertaining story. A mostly satisfying tale of love, death and home renovation.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-1483994994

Page Count: 302

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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MERCY

Despite kilt-wearing characters right out of Brigadoon, Picoult (Picture Perfect, 1995, etc.) persuasively explores a mercy killing in a small Massachusetts town and the subject of spouses who love too much. Wheelock has been home to the tradition-upholding MacDonalds and their hereditary chieftains since the 18th century, when the clan fled Scotland after the British defeated them in battle. Each clan chief has inherited more responsibilities over time, and the current laird Cam MacDonald is, like his father before him, the local chief of police. Cam yearns to travel and, though married, finds wife Allie's devotion stifling. Allie, a florist, has in turn suppressed all of her own opinions and pleasures for the sake of making Cam, whom she adores, happy. As the story begins, another MacDonald, James, has demonstrated his overwhelming love for wife Maggie in a very extreme form: James turns himself in to cousin Cam after admitting that he has smothered Maggie at her request because she was terminally ill with cancer and could no longer stand the pain. While the quality and wisdom of James's devotion to his wife will be tried in public, Allie's love for Cam will also be tested as free spirit Mia arrives in town. Mia has been everywhere and seen all the places Cam dreams of; she is also a whiz with flowers and gets immediately hired by Allie. While Allie helps James's lawyer find witnesses who will attest to his devotion to Maggie (he's now being tried for murder), Cam and Mia have an affair. A heartsick Allie learns of it, throws Cam out, sells all of his belongings, and then tries to forget him. But true love is resilient, and Allie, like James, having learned the price of being ``the one who loves more,'' will now try for greater balance. Overly predictable characters aside, Picoult does manage this time to bring trendy, headline-grabbing themes to life. (Literary Guild alternate selection)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 1996

ISBN: 0-399-14160-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996

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