Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Final Words by Teri Thackston

TITLE: Final Words
AUTHOR: Teri Thackston
PUBLISHER: Cerridwen Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 92k)
GENRE: Paranormal romantic suspense
COST: $6.99

A hit and run sends Dr. Emma St. Clair to the hospital, where she dies not once, but twice. Nine weeks later, she returns to work at the mortuary, only to discover that now she can talk to the people on her table. It’s unnerving to say the least. She already thinks she’s losing her mind. But when information she learns helps solve a case, she wonders if there’s more to it. Detective Jason MacKenzie has been trying to solve her hit and run to no avail. Getting more information from the pretty doctor seems to be the key. But she’s put off by his playboy reputation, and the fact that she seems to know things about his cases that she shouldn’t? Doesn’t make it easy to act on his attraction…

Though seeing dead people has been done repeatedly, I was interested enough in the blurb and excerpt to give this a try. I’m glad I did. Though there’s nothing that screams, “Ohmigod, best book ever!” it’s a solid romantic suspense, with very little that’s actually wrong with it.

The story starts in the ER, with Emma dying, and then being brought back to life, after a hit and run. Her emotions are right there on the surface, and the tension thick from the start. Jason is assigned to the case, because the other person in the crash was a very good friend of his. He’s got an affinity for hit and runs, actually. His sister was killed in one, and the fact that her killer has never been found haunts him to this day. Emma is revived, and the story cuts to nine weeks later, when she’s about to return to work as a coroner. She is going out of her mind with so little to do, and though she’s still a little traumatized by the entire accident, feels like throwing herself back into her old life is the best way to go. She’s entirely unprepared, both physically and emotionally, for having the very first body she works on appear as a ghost in front of her, telling her how she died. It throws Emma into a tailspin, one Jason witnesses, but his attraction to her, and his need to get at what she knows, is too high for him to look the other way.

This starts a long, steadily if not spectacularly paced tale about coming to grips with loss, accepting self identities, and learning to see what’s actually there as opposed to what is only assumed to be, both in the living and the dead. Emma is the strong core to this. Her reactions are realistic, fragile and fearful when she doesn’t know what’s going on, with growing power as the story progresses. She doubts her sanity more than once, and it’s palpable. But it’s helped because at heart, Emma is a decent, strong-willed person, dedicated to doing the right thing. She has a jerk of an ex-husband she’s trying to deal with, she’s got this new ability, and she’s got Jason to juggle. Except for a couple moments of, “Seriously? You don’t see how dumb that is?” (which is almost inevitable with heroines in any kind of romantic suspense), I liked and respected her a lot.

Jason is just as strong. He has the same moral code, the same dedication. His is a little more driven, however, because of his haunted past. His sister’s death changed him, and though his playboy reputation lingers, he’s not actually like that anymore. He’s foregone most relationships except professional ones for two years. Emma has every right to be nervous about his interest, but through careful, deliberate plotting and pacing, they both discover they are not who the other thinks they are.

The romance takes a back seat for much of the story in favor of the emotional journeys both characters go on, and the suspense aspects, though when it does finally happen, it’s rich and vibrant. The only thing is, it takes a while to get there. For a suspense novel, it’s not swiftly paced at all. There’s a methodical feel to the first half of it, as all the pieces are being put in place and the characters’ psyches are explored. It accelerates quite a bit once Emma starts getting a firmer grip on her abilities, but this would never be considered fast-paced. I didn’t mind so much, though I think it might prove troublesome for suspense readers who are more accustomed to swifter rides. To me, it felt like a fantastic mirror to the growth the characters showed, characters I considered well worth spending the time with.


8/10 – A slower pace might prove difficult for some, but I thought the more deliberate tempo an excellent reflection on the characters


8/10 – An appealing mix of driven and wounded


8/10 – Her tenuous grasp on reality is grounded with a real sense of decency and sheer will

Entertainment value

8/10 – Solid and just a little spooky, though more suspense than romance

World building

8/10 – For having the paranormal elements in such a normal world, it felt remarkably genuine



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