The Damsel in This Dress

Midnight in the Garden
of Good & Evie

Sighs Matters

Killer Charms
by Marianne Stillings
(Avon, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-06-085074-6
Though probably more a romantic suspense novel than a romance, Killer Charms is by far one of the best romances I've read this year. It's fast-paced, charming (pun unintentional but fitting), and sweet without being sappy. Lack of sizzle is all that keeps Killer Charms from that one last heart in its rating.

Inspector Andrea "Andie" Darling is looking to make a move to Homicide. If that means playing an upper-class flake to get the attention of con man Logan Sinclair, so be it. Logan's racket is clairvoyance: he supposedly makes contact with the dearly departed for wealthy widows and dingy heiresses, and happily separates them from their worldly goods while demonstrating his otherworldly (and a few of his more earthly) talents.

Andie can't manage to get anything solid on Logan, and finds herself getting caught up in his game. Not only is she finding him pretty attractive (the guy is built, rich, and has an accent, after all), now she's seeing ghosts in the house she's holed up in to wrangle him into trying his con on her.

To make matters worse, her boss wants Sinclair – bad. Moreover, he wants the necklace for which Logan allegedly murdered to obtain. Blackmail and tragedy ensue, and, dogged by the ghosts – literal and figurative – that haunt the two of them, Logan and Andie set out to catch a killer.

There's a rather fabulous plot twist towards the end of the book, and that's always an enjoyment in a romantic suspense.  Of course, it must be said that I generally get so involved in books that I am surprised by plot twists, even if they appear really obvious in retrospect.

Killer Charms is told from both Logan's and Andie's perspectives, but somehow one never really gets a good hold on either of them as an individual. Most of the understanding of the characters comes from their relationships with one another, and how they are reacting to the current situation, which is a little unusual for a romance tale. I found Logan just a little too melodramatic, but he certainly isn't wimpy or whiny. I also got the impression that Andie's two brothers have either appeared in previous novels or had novels to themselves, equally touched by a bit of the paranormal. However, Killer Charms moved along just fine without having read any of Stillings' previous work. Actually, the entire book moved along at a wonderfully steady pace, chock full of little mysteries and interesting characters; it will be a joy for romance readers and fans of the paranormal alike.

--Sarrah Knight

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