Rating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel


Wendell Weston is about to burn out. In an effort to get his writing mojo back, he takes a working sabbatical, leaving L.A. and all the trappings of his family’s studio behind to take up a three-month residency in the small town of Sandy Bottom Bay, Florida. There, Wendell hopes to both be able to write his next horror movie script, as well as do research, while helping out the owners of The Orange Lady Inn. The Lady is one of the most purportedly haunted places in a town known for their ghosts. The last thing Wendell expects is to be struck with attraction to a simple stunning man.

Kyle Grainger is finally on an even keel. Working for his best friend, Drew, as well as leading ghost tours through town, means he no longer has to scrape and scrounge just to eat. If he’s missing Drew, who is out of the country on his honeymoon, and that makes him a little more melancholy than normal? Well, Kyle wants what Drew and Cliff have. Meeting Wendell might not be what he anticipated, and it might not be his forever, but the attraction between them won’t be denied.

The more Kyle and Wendell get to know each other, the closer they become. But when tragedy strikes at the Lady, Wendell and Kyle discover secrets long buried. The more they look into it, the more things look sinister. What’s worse, Kyle is hearing things, feeling things, that are not his own. Though Kyle and Wendell are happier than ever, dark forces are at work. And if they don’t figure out the mystery, and get help from an unlikely source, they will find out all too well that ghosts are real. And it just might be the end to everything.

This the long-awaited sequel to North on Drummond, which was released five years ago and is the first in the Sandy Bottom Bay series. This story features secondary characters from the first book and continues the paranormal theme. While it’s primarily a contemporary book, the supernatural does, in fact, exist. There was a lot about this book that I enjoyed, but going back to look at my review for book 1, it’s clear this story suffers from some of the same problems.

First and foremost, this is a long book. To me, it almost feels like two books in one. The first half is very much a slow burn sort of romance, with MCs who are finally in the right place at the right time. Wendell is trying to work through burnout, trying to find the magic that lies within him to write. Kyle is missing his best friend, pining for what he doesn’t have, but still has a mostly positive outlook on life. The attraction between them is instant and the chemistry sparks immediately. I really liked watching these two figure each other out and start dating. They’re adorable together, and I liked the way they complemented each other. There’s good communication between them. I couldn’t wait for them to get to their happily ever after.

But I will also say the pacing was off for me in this book. The first half drags in places, with some redundant scenes, lack of information, and scenes that don’t really progress the plot. The big mystery doesn’t even show up until halfway through the story. And while there are tiny hints that something is amiss, they are very small. So much so that they could almost be written off. Then, when the mystery does appear, it’s a doozy of a story. While Wendell and Kyle are working on that, the romance suddenly progresses by leaps and bounds. They go from dating to confessing their love. The mystery is intriguing, and coupled with the paranormal aspect, also delivers some action. I enjoyed the way the pace picked up and really liked the twist and turns this story took. But, at times, the two halves of the book were almost incongruous and that brought things down for me.

In the end, I did enjoy this story, but it’s not without it’s problems for me. I love the author’s descriptive writing, with prose that flows and paints a vivid picture. The characterizations were wonderful, with both the MCs and the secondary characters being well drawn and real. But I wish the book had a better balance between the two parts, with bigger clues to the mystery happening earlier and the romance drawing out a bit longer. But with all that in mind, I’d still recommend this book to those who are fans of the author or those looking for a hefty read with paranormal leanings and a wonderful happy ending.