by Alexia Banks, paranormal (2012)
Crimson Romance, $3.99, ISBN 978-1440554391
Shane Connolly decides that it is time for a change in her life, so she takes a break from her PI business. After buying a piece of land in North Carolina from a client, she heads off to check out her property and explore opportunities that may arise from thereon. Bye, bye boring cheapskate boyfriend, she's going to be a vineyard boss... hey, wait a minute. It is not long before she bumps into her hot neighbor Jess Blackfox, a gun-totting crazy squatter in her backyard, and the possibility that her house is haunted. There is obviously a mystery there, so it's a good thing that Shane is a PI, right?
Oh boy. Oh boy. When I reach the last page of Forgotten Dreams, my impression is that this is a very unpolished and rather incomplete story.
The characters are almost there, but not quite fully fleshed out as believable people. Actually, the romance is quite cringe-inducing, as, for a long time, it is basically a series of two people jumping to wrong conclusions or behaving rudely for no reason other than to provide a series of squabbling and exercises in behaving childishly. And then all of a sudden these two are said to be in love. I don't see it, I don't feel this grand love one bit. These two are like two sitcom characters going through some contrived "let's bicker like children to show everyone that we are in love!" antics.
Perhaps that is the point, I don't know, as this story feels like a sitcom. The author has her characters trying very hard to be funny, to the point that the characters in this book all feel very similar, saying what are supposed to be snappy punchlines non-stop in the same type of unnaturally forced cheer. It's like watching a one-man show where the author dresses up as different characters, only, she applies the shame shtick to everyone and they all come off as variations of the same clown as a result. I can never forget even once that this story is trying so hard to make me laugh, and as a result, I can never lose myself in the story.
The mystery elements fare better - in fact, I do wonder whether the author would have done better if she had played down the romance and humor while giving a more prominent spotlight to the mystery. But even then, there are so many things about this mystery subplot that are not fully explored. The ghost, for example, is mostly there, with not enough information given to make me care about why it is lurking around the place. I don't know why this story has to be as short as it is, because the author could have provided more depths to the plot and the characters to make me care if the story had been longer.
Ultimately, Forgotten Dreams is an unsatisfying read because I feel that I have received only a superficial glimpse of things instead of the whole story.
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