by Sela Carsen, paranormal (2010)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-60928-251-6
When Conn Lucas inherits an old house from the late Great Aunt Pinkney, the only relative who didn't despise him for being the illegitimate son that taints the "respectability" of the Culford clan. He decides to repair and renovate it, sell it off, and go back to Connecticut. He soon gets distracted by the sexy neighbor Blair Moreau. However, he is emo to the core: he grasps at straws to come up with paranoid situations where the world is against him and he can also see and talk to Great Aunt Pinkney. Can he allow himself to be swayed from his perpetual brooding by a pretty woman? He has no idea that Blair isn't the only special dingbat in the story. She's a werewolf - everyone in the Moreau clan is one.
Carolina Pearl is a very readable and pleasantly entertaining short story. However, there are too many secondary characters hogging the limelight for a story this short. Because of the large cast, the romance feels somewhat underdeveloped, especially when a large chunk of the relationship development is allocated to the love scene. The fact that Blair and Conn are both somewhat drifter-type people looking for roots don't get fully developed as a reason for the two of them to feel some kind of connection, for example. Instead, Blair often has to mother Conn, who behaves more like a disenfranchised teenager than an adult. I know, he has a very unhappy past and his mother drank too much, but still. Conn comes off as someone who can't get past his teenage emo phase of self-pity and self-depreciation. I never get to see any credible emotional bond develop between these two. They like each other, they leap into bed, and somehow from there to the last page, they decide that they are somehow in love.
But Carolina Pearl does have ample humor to make up for whatever inadequacies that may be present in the romance, which is why I find this story a fun read despite everything. As a quick way to pass the time, this one will more than suffice. Still, it lacks that extra something that would have made this one a truly good read.
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