Jenny Carpenter is the unrivaled pie-baking champion of Last Chance, South Carolina's annual Watermelon Festival and the town's unofficial spinster. With her dream of marriage and children on hold, she focuses on another dream, turning the local haunted house into a charming bed-and-breakfast. But her plans go off course when the home's former owner shows up on her doorstep on a dark and stormy night . . .
Mega-bestselling horror writer Gabriel Raintree is as mysterious and tortured as his heroes. His family's long-deserted mansion is just the inspiration he needs to finish his latest twisted tale, or so he thinks until he learns it's been sold. The new innkeeper proves to be as determined as she is kind, and soon Gabriel finds himself a paying guest in his own home. As Jenny and Gabe bring new passion to the old house, can she convince him to leave the ghosts of his past behind-and make Last Chance their first choice for a future together?
Pretty good book that is both romance and ghost story. Jenny has given up her job as a high school math teacher to follow her dream of owning an inn. She bought Jonquil House, which has been deserted for years and is said to be haunted. She is just a few weeks from opening when Gabe arrives. He is a best selling author and the former owner of the house. Suffering from writer's block, he wants to buy the house back and live there while he gets his writing mojo back.
Their first meeting doesn't go so well, as Gabe is quite rude to Jenny and she feels fully justified in slamming the door in his face. Thanks to some other circumstances, Jenny ends up letting Gabe stay at the house with her. She is basically a caring person, and senses that Gabe is not a happy man, so she tries to take care of him. She's also attracted to him, but having been burned a couple times in the past, she is determined to resist the attraction. Gabe is attracted to her also, but has enough secrets and unhappiness in his life to keep him from giving in.
I liked Jenny's determination to follow her dreams. She has multiple people telling her that she's making a mistake, but she isn't giving in to them. She doesn't believe in ghosts and has her plans well in hand. When Gabe arrives, things start to get a little freaky. The bedroom where he's staying used to be his brother's, until he was killed in a hunting accident at the age of fifteen. Gabe was there when it happened but has no memory of it. It soon becomes obvious that the ghost is that of his brother, and Gabe is forced to face the demons of his past.
The relationship between Jenny and Gabe grew pretty slowly, Both are determined to protect themselves. Jenny has a couple failed relationships behind her and believes that love and marriage are not likely to happen for her. She's attracted to Gabe, though she doesn't want to be. She can see that he's unhappy and the more she learns about his past the more she wants to help him. Gabe is keeping quite a few secrets that he sees as obstacles to any kind of relationship. He tends to use rudeness to keep Jenny at a distance, but when strange things start to happen he's determined to protect her. Jenny is equally determined to help Gabe deal with his own past.
Everything that has happened comes to a head at the library fundraiser, where Gabe finally learns the truth of what happened. There's a lot he has to deal with and Jenny is there to help him. The aftermath has a couple of strange twists that I didn't see coming, especially the identity of Jenny's attacker. The scene at the vet's office was very moving and I thought it was a good resolution to the ghost problem.
There were some pretty funny moments in the book. The ladies of the town keep trying to push Jenny and the new preacher together. Though it had its dark moments, I enjoyed the dinner that he came to and the way he and Gabe seemed to be competing for Jenny. What happened to him there was funny, and his later visit too. The ghost certainly didn't like him. The dog also brought some lighter moments into Gabe and Jenny's lives.
There were some down sides to the small town actions also. That same preacher was a self-righteous ass, and I didn't like the way he treated both Jenny and Gabe. I also didn't like the way so many people treated Gabe like he was evil, just because of the type of books he wrote. I completely understood Jenny's frustration when her friends tried to warn her away from Gabe.
Overall I enjoyed the book, though it was darker in tone than the others of the series. I'm looking forward to the next one, though I hope it goes back to a lighter read.