TBR reviewer: Luta Wolf
paranormal investigator is telling her the place may be haunted.
Van Whitney is no stranger to gossip. He's been struggling to keep his family's restoration business afloat, and when he agrees to restore Rowena's home, he vows to keep their relationship professional. His childhood friend has become a beautiful, sexy woman, but she attracts gossip like flies to honey. When strange things start happening at the house, Van discovers secrets upon secrets, and a plot that may be other than it seems. But his attraction to Rowena might be more dangerous than anything from the past…
The book started off slow with tons of build up. It’s at the start where you learn so much about the characters. Rowena is a cross between aggressive and vulnerable. As you learn more about her past this is completely understandable and makes you root for her.
Van’s past makes it harder to like him but this is all part of the author’s masterful plan. Despite his past mistakes he has become a man to admire. There is a lot of exaggerated anger in the beginning of the plot. It shows cheerleaders, football players, and small towns in a not so good light. Further along in the book you realize this is done on purpose and I have to give credit were credit is do. The way the author portrayed how the past can be looked back on, is absolutely impressive.
While I enjoyed the mystery and the romance between the characters. What really engrossed me was the sub-plot that was all about how we sometimes blow things in our past out of proportion and let it control too much of us. There is a lot more to it but I don’t want to spoil anything, needless to say, the book is thought provoking. The mystery kept the romance from being too much, which it could easily have done as it was very steamy. There was a lot going on but it was balanced so well, that it made for a really enjoyable read.
“Is that any way to greet an old friend?” He took another step closer and she actually flinched. A whiff of perfume, musky and warm, floated past his
“Old friend?” She crossed her arms. “Van, the last time we had an actual
conversation I was fifteen.”
“What are you talking about? We’ve known each other all our lives.” What the
hell was wrong with her? Living in California certainly hadn’t done her attitude
any favors. Probably thought she was too good for this place now.
Her gaze turned defiant. “Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten high
Most of high school was a blur of occasional touchdowns and an endless string
of willing cheerleaders. He’d only gone out with Rowena two times, and both
dates had been nothing more than a ruse. “Rowena, it was a long time
She uncrossed her arms and her gaze softened, but only a little. “Not long
enough for some of us.”
“What does that mean?”
Van became even more confused when she didn’t answer. What was her
“Didn’t Mike tell you he called me?”
“No. He only told me a contractor would meet me here this morning.”
“That’s me. We’re the only game in town.”
“I can’t hire you, Van. This will never work.”
“Why not? We’ve been friends since childhood. Anyone else will charge you
three times what I will.” He hated the begging quality his voice had taken on,
but he needed this job. Mike had given him the impression this was a done deal.
Just show up and give her a quote. Then again, Mike was an idiot.
“What you charge has nothing to do with it,” she said.
Must be nice to be so blasé about money. She’d turned into a rich bitch out
there in California. “Then at least let me take a look inside and see what needs
to be done. That way you won’t get ripped off by someone trying to pad the
estimate.” And then he’d find Mike and strangle him.
She kicked at a loose pebble with the toe of her sandal, and he tried not to
stare at her painted toenails, chocolate brown, to match that tank top. “Van,
I’m having trouble picturing your business as stable.”
His palms started to sweat and he took a deep breath to slow his heart rate.
The story of his uncle Mark embezzling company funds had made the papers outside
of Creek Ridge, but he wasn’t sure how far outside. How much did she
“I guess Jake’s been keeping you up to date on things here.” Jake had moved
to Chicago to attend college right out of high school and still lived there. But
since he’d been closer to Rowena than to any of her other siblings, he imagined
they still kept in touch. Then again, Mike could have told her the story of
She looked into his eyes, and a wave of guilt washed over him. The look on
her face wasn’t Hollywood rich bitch. It was his childhood friend. It was the
innocent high school freshman he’d asked out on a date merely to win a bet. He
owed her an explanation about the business, at the very least.
He cleared his throat. “Rowena, the papers made a lot of unfounded
accusations when all that stuff about my uncle came out. We’re struggling in
this economy like everyone else, but the business is sound.”
“You don’t understand,” she said, frowning. “This is Aunt Loony’s house. I
don’t want a bunch of your football ex-teammates getting drunk and screwing it
“Why would you think that?” He’d assumed she was talking about the stuff in
the papers. Didn’t sound like it.
She held his gaze. “It’s what you did. Hang out with the team, drink a few
beers, and occasionally cause some minor vandalism for shits and
He hadn’t realized he was holding his breath until a sigh escaped. “That’s
all over now, Rowena. No drunkenness on the job, no vandalism, minor or
otherwise. My crew works hard.”
“Leopards don’t change their spots.” Her voice sounded bitter, tight. Was she
talking about him, or her Hollywood ex-boyfriend? If the tabloids were accurate,
he’d trashed her reputation and her career because she’d had it out with him
over his cheating. He couldn’t fault her for being hurt. And if the stories were
true, Brett Fontaine had it coming to him. But that had nothing to do with this
job, or with him.
“I’m a different person now, Rowena.”
“Not sure I can believe that.”
“I’m confused. Are you refusing to hire me because of what my uncle did, or
because of the way I acted in high school?”
Her eyes cut to a spot behind his shoulder, and her tan couldn’t hide the
sudden flush on her cheeks. He didn’t understand her reaction. She was a
celebrity. Way out of his league. She could wallpaper several rooms of Aunt
Loony’s house with all the magazine covers she’d graced.
“Jake told me they recovered all the money your uncle stole.”
“That’s right. And my father repaid the customers who were shorted because of
it. Rowena, this house means a lot to me too. At least let me give you a quote.
I hate the idea of you getting ripped off by a stranger.”