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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nearly Departed by Suzanne Rossi

Nearly Departed by Suzanne Rossi
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (326 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Cybil Austin loves Shady Oaks, and hopes to write her Regency romances undisturbed by a dysfunctional family. She doesn’t count on renovation chaos or the presence of ghosts who fear the changes will wreak havoc with their non-lives. She also doesn’t count on falling for her contractor, C. Maxwell Maitland.

Handsome and charismatic, Max isn’t seeking a relationship, but Cybil gets to him on more than a professional level. He is drawn to her eccentric personality, but a bad marriage has him gun-shy of anything suggesting permanence. And then, there are those pesky ghosts. They want Cybil gone and the renovations stopped.

But not even a haunted house deters Cybil from pursuing Max. During the process, she learns about herself, life, and death.

Will Cybil and Max enjoy a future at Shady Oaks? Can they and the ghosts co-exist in the same house?

Take a big old house, mix it up with a lot of ghosts with attitude and a plan, and throw in a determined romance writing heroine and a mother who’d give you nightmares with a very sexy and a handy Mr. Fix-it and readers are in for a madcap treat in Nearly Departed.

Cybil, the heroine is in a pickle. Her whole life seems filled with sour notes. She’s plagued with a mother she calls Martha Stewart but never to her face. After I read quite a few scenes between mother and daughter I get the feeling that Cybil is actually being nice. Good gravy, that woman would drive me up a wall! I have to say though, that Ms. Rossi did an excellent job with their dialogue because it really painted a true picture of their family dynamic. Sometimes it’s funny, and other times I wanted to step in and protect Cybil from herself. Her downfall is she really loves her family even when they drive her barmy. That actually had me liking her character a lot. I had a lot of fun reading Cybil’s internal dialogue especially when she’s imagining Max with his power tools. I still get the giggles.

When Max showed up on the scene, things really picked up. Poor Cybil’s money is flying out the window but the results are amazing and the view is delicious. Max has a few issues of his own that, once revealed, made his character stronger, definitely more relatable and one to respect because of how he ultimately comes to terms with everything. He’s a lot of fun too. I enjoyed his slow and easy courtship of Cybil and thought him rather sweet. And when he stood up for Cybil I just wanted to hug him. Go, Max!

It’s not too often that ghosts end up being prominent and important secondary characters but that is what they are in the story. Each one has a distinctive personality and each one leads Cybil on a path of discovering her own inner strengths. There was humor, sadness, poignant moments and inspirational hijinks. I loved how the author had Hester telling bits and pieces of her personal history as though it was only yesterday. It was vibrant, well told with emotion and heart and it helped increase my enjoyment in the tale. The author sure has a gift for imbibing her characters with life.

Other secondary characters abound but the one that stuck in my craw was Cybil’s mother. Her reaction to the dog and the fact that Cybil invited someone to visit her in her new home that the mother didn’t like, all of that was great conflict and the personal drama was intense. Very well done. And I rooted and hoorayed for Cybil when she stood up for herself. Her growth was a welcome event. Especially when that doctor showed up. Oh and I totally enjoyed when Cybil met Max’s parents. What a riot and once again the author did a bang-up job with description, dialogue and imagery.

I have to say that Nearly Departed has so many things going for it that I am having a hard time limiting myself to hints about the good parts. I have to say that a relationship between a man and woman can sure be complicated when ghosts are about. I’m having a hard time keeping a straight face as I write this.

Also, I think Ms. Rossi did a stellar job with the spicy scenes when Max and Cybil finally explore their physical attraction. It was fun to read and quite well written.

Nearly Departed is a wonderfully written and entertaining romance that will please readers on many different levels. It’s rich in emotion, characterization, dialogue and environmental ambiance. The conflicts are internal and external and each play a pivotal role in helping the hero and heroine grow as characters as well as keeping the plot fresh, interesting and lively. I had such a fun time reading this book and I have no problems giving this story a high rating. It’s earned every accolade I can give it and then some.