Welcome to my stop on the Not Quite Dead Blog Tour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. Click here to follow along with the full tour schedule.
Title: Not Quite Dead
Series: A Lowcountry Ghost Story
Author: Lyla Payne
Publication date: April 1st 2014
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Mystery
Source: Review copy
A broken engagement sends Graciela Harper crawling back to Heron Creek with her tail between her legs, but finds the sleepy little town too changed to set her life right. Not even her budding drinking problem can obscure her Gramps's failing health, or erase the mental picture of her first love happily married to her childhood best friend. To top it all off, she's having a heck of time convincing the town's dashing young mayor of her unfit-for-dating status.
When the ghost of 18th century lady pirate Anne Bonny starts insisting on a near daily audience, Graciela has to confront something else she never expected - being certifiably nuts at twenty-five years old.
Her brand new "I don't give a crap" attitude makes it easy to dismiss the mysterious threats that seem to be tied to her search for more information on the long dead pirate, but when her family becomes a target, Gracie knows she needs to find out why the ghost insists on being a constant, reeking companion.
If Graciela can put aside her prejudice against people without a pulse, she may discover that Anne Bonny's problems are intricately linked with her own. The past harbors answers could help the cantankerous spirit find closure, but she is, after all, already dead. If Graciela doesn't move fast, she might find herself doing the haunting, instead of the other way around.
Not Quite Dead surprised me in many ways, all of them good. I connected with Graciela, Gracie, right away - she's snarky, spirited, and a loving, devoted granddaughter. She's come back to Heron Creek to take care of her grandpa, who isn't doing well health wise, and while she's nursing a broken heart with alcohol every night, I really didn't think she was over indulgent in her self pity. She handled her fiance cheating on her better than I would have handled it.
Thinking she will get a reprieve from heartbreak and totally awkward situations for a while, Gracie couldn't be more wrong. Barely back for twenty-four hours, she comes face to face with her first love who married her childhood best friend. Yikes! I was relieved, actually, that this wasn't going to be a story where a girl runs from her cheating fiance and finds the perfect place to let her broken heal perfectly. Not Quite Dead is realistic, which I appreciated - Gracie has a lot of history in Heron Creek, and because of that, there are unpleasant situations she must deal with here, too.
The close relationship Gracie has with her grandpa warmed my heart and also brought tears with all of the little signs letting her know just how bad off he really is. I forgot several times that she only spent her summers in Heron Creek - with the love in her voice coming through loud and clear while reminiscing about spending time with her grandparents and going swimming with friends, I could tell how close her ties are to the town.
The young and handsome mayor had me laughing out loud with his banter with Gracie. He added humor which was a nice balance with the more serious topics addressed in this story, topics like cheating, depression, alcohol use, and domestic violence. There's a touch of romance, too, and I appreciated it wasn't the focus of the story but was happy it was there.
The mystery of whether Gracie is really seeing a ghost or if someone is trying to scare her away kept me glued to my Kindle. This book seemed so real it felt like everything in it could really happen. The voices of the characters, the way Payne paints scenes in her story, and the ease with which she draws you into the world she's created all lend the feeling of realness to Not Quite Dead. This was a great story to get lost in, and I'm looking forward to seeing where things go from here.
Lyla Payne has been publishing New Adult romance novels for a little over a year, starting with Broken at Love and continuing with the rest of the Whitman University series. She loves telling stories, discovering the little reasons people fall in love, and uncovering hidden truths in the world around us - past and present. In her spare time she cuddles her two dogs, pretends to enjoy exercising so that she can eat as much Chipotle as she wants, and harbors a deep and abiding hope that Zac Efron likes older women. She loves reading, of course, along with movies, traveling, and Irish whiskey. Lyla's hard at work, ALWAYS, and hopes to bring you more Whitman University antics and at least one more Lowcountry ghost tale before the end of the year.
Lyla Payne is represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.
If you want to know more, please visit her at http://lylapayne.com.
If you're a fan of Young Adult fiction - science fiction or otherwise - please check out her work that's published under the name Trisha Leigh: http://trishaleigh.com.
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