Fun Southern Enemies To Lovers Romance. The title of this review tells you most everything you need to know here. This book has quite a few moving parts, but overall they work together to create a solid, fun Southern romance – in this case, centered on the titular barbecue and the retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The intricacies of barbecue – and no, you damn Yankees and foreigners from other nations (joking, an allusion to Southern comic Jeff Foxworthy’s “Redneck Games”), simply putting something on a grill is not “barbecueing”, nor is the grill itself a “barbecue” – are discussed well, but always in context with and service to the overall story and character development. Small town southern life, with all of its greatness and pitfalls, are also shown well – yes, including the one person who claims to be able to speak to ghosts. The pranks are mostly in the past, and it is always quite clear that they were in the past. The reasons for the enmity between the leads are compelling, tragic, and completely “reasonable”-ish for where the characters were at those points, and the slow-burn nature of the romance allows both to see that perhaps there is more to the adult versions of each other than they remember of the kid versions. And that perhaps there was more going on with the kid versions that their own kid versions didn’t fully know about. For the clean/ sweet crowd, this has very minor cussing – including a grandma who actively admonishes such words in her presence – and no even fade-to-black sex. (Some heavy kissing though, for those more absolutist against absolutely anything physical.) Oh, and there is a more minor subplot – revealing even its nature would be a spoiler – that is refreshing, accurate… and yet still feels mostly thrown in due to the author’s own political leanings. It totally works, and it is nice to see an author defying the normal conventions of the genre to even subtly go there, and yet it also *does* feel a bit forced, as though this was a wrinkle intentionally placed to draw the eye away from the actual main subject to a degree. Still, on the whole a solid, fun romance novel that does a great job of explaining Southern Barbecue, and very much recommended.
This entire spinoff series has been my entry point into Pine’s universe, and I’ve been very impressed so far. She manages to bring the paranormal and the normal together in ways rarely seen in other similar efforts, all while keeping the series focused on the people involved even as the individual books feature specific cases. (As the better long running series – in any medium – tend to do.)
This particular book is a typical entry in that vein – we open up dealing with the aftermath of the ending of Ghost of a Chance (Book 5), and because of that at minimum that book needs to be read before that one. But even that book deals with the events from the very first book in this spinoff series, Ghost of Himself. (And on and on and on :D) So read all six books – because by the end of this one Pine basically calls her shot with presumably the next book, and it is one that has been building since even before this spinoff series began.
This book in particular was Pine’s usual excellence in storytelling and execution, and I am very much looking forward to Book 7! 🙂
And with that… the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release of the Week: Ghost Pain by Pandora Pine”
This was an excellent entry point into an existing well-established world. You get enough of a sense of the larger world without being overwhelmed in the details and thus not being able to enjoy the particular story you are currently reading. Indeed, just the opposite is true: the current story is the laser focus at all times, and you get just enough background to understand where the various existing players are coming from while whetting your appetite to find out exactly how they arrived at their current locations. Case in point being one half of the focal couple of this very slow burn romance – private investigator Jude Byrne. He is one of many links to the previously existing world, finally getting his own story in this spinoff series, and apparently he has been quite… open… with the sheer volume of partners he has bedded. Apparent series newcomer pyschic witch Copeland Forbes has been a bit more selective with his lovers, but is certainly no prude himself.
MM romance enthusiasts will likely be dismayed to realize there is no penetrative sex in this particular tale – as I said, it is truly a slow burn romance – though it does have some sexual activity, as one would expect from most modern romances outside of certain particular subgenres. But that is the only minor quibble to be had here and that is mostly just the lack of a genre trope. Otherwise, this truly is a strong tale in its own right that serves as an excellent launching pad for its own series within this larger world, while also getting new readers interested in learning about that larger world. Outstanding on all points, and very much recommended.
As always, Amazon/ Goodreads:
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: Ghost Of Himself by Pandora Pine”