Friday, January 27, 2012

Ghosts of Boyfriends Past by Vivi Andrews

TITLE: Ghosts of Boyfriends Past
AUTHOR: Vivi Andrews
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 41k)
GENRE: Paranormal romance
COST: $4.50

Witch Biz Marks is cursed. Every Valentine’s Day for the past three years, the man she was seeing died. Once she figured out what was going on, she tried swearing off men, but so far nothing has worked. So when reporter Mark Ellison shows up at her store, trying to ferret out the true story behind the so-called Black Widow of Parish Island, her immediate attraction to him sends off all kind of warning signals. She tries to push him away, but the more she pushes, the more intrigued Mark gets. Not even discovering that the ghosts of her three so-called victims live with her is enough to throw him off…

Humorous books don’t have to be laugh out loud funny to work. Sometimes, it’s enough to be charmed by the prose and turn every page with a smile on your face. That’s certainly the case for this short novel.

When her grandmother died, leaving her alone, Biz did the unthinkable. She cast a spell looking for love for herself. That was the one big no-no she was taught, and as a result, the spell turned into a curse. For the past three years, the man she was seeing has died on Valentine’s Day, leaving her terrified to get involved again. It’s also left her with three ghosts, sharing the old house that also serves as her charm store. The one thing she wants to avoid is someone else dying, so when reporter Mark Ellison shows up in her shop asking questions, her walls go up. He’s gorgeous, and she’s immediately attracted. It’s got warning bells all over it. She tries to push him away, but Mark is convinced there’s a story behind the three deaths. He’s decided he’s not going anywhere.

What I love most about this author’s work is the crispness of her prose. It’s quippy without being annoying, bantery in all the right places, and moves along at a brisk enough pace to make the book seem shorter than it actually is. While I didn’t laugh out loud during it, I did go through it with a smile and a certain joy. It’s hard not to enjoy these two characters interacting with each other, or the multitude of colorful secondary characters that pepper the cast. Everyone has a frothiness to them, even the hard-edged Gillian, Biz’s best friend.

The two leads are suitably appealing. Mark is charming and determined, while Biz has an everywoman feel about her that would spark something in most female readers. I did wonder what Mark saw in Biz specifically, whether his reactions were genuine or a product of the curse, but that’s a symptom of the story rather than a flaw in the characterization. As fun as Biz can be, too, her back and forth attitude with Mark and how she’s going to deal with him grew old halfway through the book. The story is already very quickly paced. Toss in her constantly changing feelings, and I had a sense of whiplash by the end.

Still, with such sparkling prose and light mood, this rates higher than a lot of other holiday stories I’ve read. Not all of her backlist appeals to me, but the more I read by her, the more likely I am to give them a go anyway.


8/10 – Crisp humor and brisk pacing


7/10 – Charming, but I’m never really sure just what his attraction was to her


7/10 – Loved her humor about the whole thing, but the back and forth of her attitude toward Mark got old

Entertainment value

7/10 – It wasn’t as laugh out loud funny as I’d expected, but I did go through it with a smile on my face

World building

8/10 – The world of Parish came to sparkling life, though I would’ve liked a little bit more about the magical side of things



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