Dark Paradise (#1)
by Angie Sandro.
I received a free copy of this book for review from NetGalley.
If you’re in the mood for a New Adult murder mystery romance with ghosts and Louisiana swampland ambiance, you might want to give this book a whirl. It’s the story of Mala LaCroix, last in a long line of “witch women” – except she doesn’t believe in any of that nonsense, and wants nothing to do with it. She just wants to get by: working, saving up for her criminal justice classes, crushing on George the deputy, and avoiding her drunken mother. But when she finds a dead girl on the bayou, everything changes. She’s being haunted by what is undeniably the dead girl’s ghost – and so is the victim’s hot brother, Landry (who, unbeknownst to Mala, has had a crush on her for years). Now the two are thrown together trying to solve a murder, while the ghost’s rage grows alongside their attraction to each other. Between the ghost attacks and whoever really killed Landry’s sister, and the ever-present prejudice of the small town’s residents, Mala is not sure she’ll make it out in one piece. Or with her heart intact.
I will say this for the the author – she doesn’t pull her punches when it comes to hurting or putting her characters in danger. Not to a GRR Martin level, but nothing to sneeze at. Particularly towards the end of the book, there’s a good amount of adrenaline and oh-shit moments. The down side of this book is that it falls prey to oh-so-overdone Love Triangle syndrome. Not every male-female relationship in books for young people needs to be a romance! The chemistry between Landry and Mala is believable and built well over time (though Landry is a bit bipolar-seeming with his mood swings). The chemistry between Mala and George is very much not believable or built up well, which makes certain scenes in the latter part of the book just baffling. But the ending did throw some intriguing curveballs, and the southern bayou atmosphere comes through strongly throughout. And I liked how the narrative switched between Mala’s point of view and Landry’s – I like getting to see both sides. Overall, I enjoyed reading this and do want to see where the story goes, so it’s a successful first-book-in-a-series hook.