Publisher: Ballantine Date
Published: August 13, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense
Book format: Hardback
Obtained via: Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address: Gina Ginalrmreviews@gmail.com
Exhausted from the non-stop tracking and capture of the Boardwalk killer renowned psychiatrist Charlie Stone says goodbye to FBI agent Tony Bartoli at her door. While a part of her wants so very much to invite the tall, dark and so very handsome agent into her home and to see just where there relationship may go, another man, a devilish blond with sky blue eyes, waits inside that very door. Well, he isn’t quite a man. That is, he was a man, and now he is a ghost. When the Boardwalk Killer, a murderer who stole away Charlie’s young adulthood and seemed to resurface fifteen years later, Charlie was drawn into the investigation because of her expertise in serial killers, her safe and secure world was turned upside down. While since witnessing the murder of her childhood friend’s family opened up her latent ability to see ghosts, the last thing she expected was to have one attached to her. Worse yet, the ghost that attached himself to her was convicted serial killer Michael Garland.
It is Michael who sits before her TV waiting for her to return home.
Charlie is torn between relief that Michael is still with her, albeit it in ghostly form but at the same time she wishes he would find that light and move on from the physical plane. Her feelings grow more and more conflicted as Michael weaves himself deeper into her life.
Before Charlie can set down any ground rules with Michael, a young woman, Jenna McDaniels, comes banging on her door. Terrified, wet and bleeding she pleads for Charlie’s help, telling the psychiatrist that a man with a gun is after her. Despite Michael telling her to stay out if, Charlie lets the young woman in. While Jenna calls 911, Charlie calls on a neighbour who is also a deputy sheriff, to come to their aid. With a killer at the door and Michael telling her to hide, Charlie has moments to make a life and death decision. As the police arrive the intrude flees, but not before he leaves his own special calling card. The chilling words, left on a simple slip of paper, tell Charlie that yet another serial killer has her in his sights. Realizing that they are dealing with another serial killer, Charlie calls Tony.
Tony and his team head back to Charlie’s house and so begins the hunt for the Gingerbread man.
I waited, at times not too patiently, for Karen Robard’s second book in the Charlie Stone series, THE LAST KISS GOODBYE. I loved book 1, LAST VICTIM, so much that I re-read it before digging into THE LAST KISS GOODBYE and it was even better the second time. Seriously, Michael Garland can haunt me anytime. I liked how LAST KISS picked up minutes after Tony leaves Charlie at the door in LAST VICTIM. With a well told backstory Charlie’s latest investigation takes off with a bang. Not a beat was missed between the two stories.
There is some fantastic character growth and change in Michael as LAST KISS unfolds. I suspected there was more to him than book 1 let on and that man….errr ghost….has some serious secrets. Robards reveals bits and pieces of those secrets in tantalizing bits leaving you wanting more, but not in big bites because if we get to know the real Michael too quickly the series could abruptly end.
LAST KISS, however, wasn’t quite as good as LAST VICTIM.
The author seemed to get stuck in a loop of telling readers over and over and yet over again how gorgeous Michael is. It started to seem that not a chapter went by that Charlie wasn’t reminded he was a ghost, that what they had couldn’t be real and that he was a gorgeous guy. It was like she got stuck on this loop and couldn’t get off. The suspense wasn’t quite as heart stopping although the love scenes between Charlie and Michael were major toe curlers. At times I felt like either Ms. Robards lost interest in the book or series or wasn’t quite sure where to go with it.
There were instances of telling that took me out of the story, along with sentences that has parentheses around words that came across like badly done asides in a Shakespearean play. They didn’t work for me.
The last twenty of so pages were the kind of heart stopping, breath holding moments that make for not just good but great romantic suspense. When the Gingerbread man was revealed my jaw dropped. I definitely didn’t expect that in the ending.
The last paragraph takes the reader into a hint of what may be to come and it is looking pretty darn good.
This is one series I truly hope continues long into the future. And, I would love to see Tam get her own series. Now that is a character with stories to tell!
The Charlie Stone books are stand-alones, however if you plan to read the series I highly recommend reading the books in order. While book 2 didn’t quite come up to my expectations of book 1 I will probably read both again when book 3 comes out. My biggest complaint right now? While LAST KISS ends with a promise of more to come, there is nothing on Ms. Robards website or other venues to let readers know when that next book will be out. I can’t wait!
This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.