Merry MacKenzie has finally--finally!!--moved out of her overprotective father’s house and into an apartment in the big city. On her first day in Bost...moreMerry MacKenzie has finally--finally!!--moved out of her overprotective father’s house and into an apartment in the big city. On her first day in Boston, she meets her landlord, ace pitcher Jason Falco, who helps her move in. Intrigued by a gorgeous woman who isn’t impressed by his fame, he asks her out, and they start a sweet romance. But Jason has a secret, and between a nasty, alcoholic paparazzo trying to save her flagging career, and someone from Merry’s own past, their relationship might be over before it starts. And that’s not to mention the rest of the building’s quirky tenants!
Where to start with this book? I can’t say I hated it. That would imply that it engendered strong feelings of any sort. This book is the type of fluffy, forgettable contemporary romance that pops up enough to make me wary of the whole genre. I wouldn’t even classify it as paranormal romance--the fact that many of the characters are magical creatures of one sort or another felt almost tacked on. The heroine is a nurse who’s put her life on hold for the past nine years, helping raise her younger brother after her mother died. Her father is extremely overprotective, which Ms. Chase clumsily overplays at almost every opportunity. Her brother has ADHD, yet acted more like a 5-year-old on a sugar high than an 18-year-old on Ritalin. Merry herself is rather flat; she only has one scene of strong emotion--a quick display of jealousy when Jason meets one of her flirty coworkers. Other than that, she seems to just float along. I think the ghost has more backbone than she does.
Jason seemed a little more real, but not by much. He’s extremely protective of his privacy, which is one reason he bought and renovated the apartment building in the first place. He’s instantly attracted to Merry, but at first it seems more for her lack of interest in him than anything she says or does. I really disliked his interactions with his bitch of an aunt--he gave his uncle a job as the building’s super, and Dottie seems to think it’s her place to stick her nose into all the tenants’ business. She likes to call the police at the drop of a hat, despite knowing her nephew’s desire for privacy, yet each time he skirts the issue and just forgives her. Both Dottie herself and the way Jason acted toward her really brought down my enjoyment of the book. If she were my aunt, I would have kicked her out after a month.
The rest of the tenants were entertaining. A pair of witches operate a phone psychic line--and a phone sex line. Chad, the resident ghost was a hippie reporter in the 60s who was murdered in his apartment and likes to watch soap operas with the raven shifter who works in the morgue. We can’t forget the sexy werewolf and the vampire who lives in the basement! The supporting cast brought this book up from a bad read to merely forgettable, especially the subplot where a detective comes in to solve Chad’s murder.
The plot seemed to skip around a lot, something that bothers me in most books. The conflict for the first third was the paparazzo and her libelous reporting coming between Jason and Merry. Then it was Jason’s own “deep, dark secret” (his words, not mine!)--he and his family are shape-shifters. And THEN it was Merry’s insecurities, and a touch of family drama. Each plot thread was wrapped up tritely (especially the paparazzo storyline--gag!), with barely any overlap. The shape-shifter mating aspect was poorly done; I’m all for fated mates and life-long mystical bonds, but this mythology was a little ridiculous. And for an author who got her start in the erotic romance genre, I was really unimpressed with the sex scenes.
If it seems I had strong feelings on this book, well, I don’t. It was a pleasant enough read, with issues that didn’t bother me terribly at the time, but came rushing back when I set it down. I doubt I’ll seek out the next two books in the series. I think most of my problems with “Strange Neighbors” come from approaching this as a paranormal romance set in contemporary times, rather than a contemporary romance with paranormal elements. If you’re into chick-lit romances, this might be right up your alley. Unfortunately for me, it’s not up mine.
Fantastic! Khalil & Grace are still my favorite couple in this series, but Carling & Rune are giving Dragos & Pia a run for their money (t...moreFantastic! Khalil & Grace are still my favorite couple in this series, but Carling & Rune are giving Dragos & Pia a run for their money (though I'm sure that will change once I read Lord's Fall). This book really expands on the mythology of the world, more so than the first two. I don't recall the seven Primal Powers being mentioned in either Dragon Bound or Storm's Heart, though they factor in quite extensively in the two novellas. That actually threw me just a little, since we went from basically no religion to a relatively complex mythology.
Still, a fabulous book with a lot of re-read potential.(less)