Series: TIDEWATER SERIES
Plot Type: Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings: Violence—3; Sensuality—3-4; Humor—2
Publisher and Titles: Berkley Sensation
Spirited (novel 1—3/2014)
MY REVIEW OF NOVEL 1: Spirited
This mediocre romantic mystery is full of plot holes, awkward dialogue (particularly in the love scenes), unbelievable coincidences, and melodramatic interior monologues. In addition to the plot problems, the characters are cardboard flat, and the lovers lack any spark of chemistry between them. I would rate the quality of the writing to the category romances published by Harlequin. I'm surprised that Berkeley Sensation is publishing something so unpolished and amateurish.
The second of the long-separated Scott sisters is Shelley Morgan, a veterinarian in the tiny town of Elkridge, Virginia, just an hour or so from Tidewater, where the eldest sister, Jules, lives. Like her sisters, Shelley has a particular psychic "crift" (a cross between a curse and a gift). Shelly has a Doolittle "crift," meaning that she can communicate with almost all animals, except for dogs, who tend to attack her on sight.
Behre begins this novel like a dark suspense/horror story, with a preface in which a man—a killer—named Andrew meets up with his next slice-n-dice victim. Andrew appears sporadically throughout the book, always planning for his next vengeful kill. Two things are readily apparent to the reader: that Andrew is a sociopath and that he is one of the seemingly normal supporting characters, although, puzzlingly, we don’t meet anyone named Andrew—not until the big reveal at the end. By the time Andrew makes a few appearances, it's pretty easy to use the process of elimination to figure out just who he is, although the reasons for his dastardly actions are not unveiled until the climactic showdown scene at the end of the book.
Shelley works for the long-time town vet, Dr. Kessler, an elderly man who appears to be sinking into senility. He carries notebooks and pads of sticky notes on which he writes constant reminder messages to himself, but rarely remembers anything at all. That leaves most of the work to Shelley, which is fine with her because she has absolutely no social life. Shelley is haunted by the fact that everyone she has ever loved has left her: her parents have died, her sisters were taken away to be placed in separate adoptions, and her scumbag fiancé dumped her. Strangely, she appears never to have had any female friends. Although she is just 24, Shelley believes that she is doomed to be alone for the rest of her life. She is certain that if she should ever be tempted to love someone again, that person would either die or leave her, so it’s best to avoid all emotional attachments. This is a woman in dire need of a good therapist.
> The book is filled with illogical plot manipulations. For example, when a car overheats, the characters inexplicably move it to the back of a gas station before they pour antifreeze into its radiator. Turns out, the author needs the car to be behind the gas station because another character is going to use it to sneak away from the scene.
PUBLISHER'S BLURB FOR NOVELLA 2.5: "Harmonized"
Includes an exclusive preview of the latest TIDEWATER novel, Energized.