by K.M. Montemayor
This story starts right in the heat of the action. A paranormal investigator team enter a property that has had no human residents for a long time but is infested with spirit entities, including a demon. The group leader pushes things because they have a television program and they are recording for the season finale, and naturally things go wrong. His best friend, the group psychic, becomes possessed by the demon.
The team includes a priest and holy water helps extricate the demon, but not without collateral damage. The friendship suffers turmoil and the psychic refuses to return to work with the team, though he promises to help vet a replacement.
The action in the beginning is fast and the characters are well fleshed out. This one grabbed my interest and held it at the start. It even got diversity in early, in the form of the psychic's over protective gay boyfriend. However, the following couple of chapters had me wondering if I had made a mistake.
Our introduction to the female replacement psychic started out with some misogynist antagonism followed by a lot of emphasis on ripped guys, including a big red flag, the word 'hawt' spelled that way. I became concerned that an exciting ghost hunting story was about to turn into a Harlequin Romance novel.
It also pushed believability on a few points, most notably that the first psychic suffers from clinical depression, followed by learning the group leader has a strict health regime because encountering sometimes malevolent spirits, including demons, requires extreme physical and mental discipline. A depressive would be an easy target for a demon, so what could they be thinking?
Apart from that, the gay character angle was pushed too far to fit into the story organically and soon began to look like an agenda. I'm all for diversity in characters but it needs to flow naturally.
As the story progressed, it became clear that the central plot was about the relationship between the new psychic and the group leader. Romance readers might like it for that very reason, but I had plucked it out of the Horror section with different expectations. The haunted house encounters also started to lose believability from the second one, which had too much 'hero wins all despite odds' to it.
The writing itself was generally good, but a little too dragged out. Repetitions about the leader's health routine and what he ate along with the psychic's continual unfavorable comparisons of her body type against the prettier women who were always around the group leader got too whiney for me to like her and Austin was too much of a control freak for me to like him much.
As I said, a Romance reader might enjoy this as the setting is more interesting than the usual cowboy/highlander/construction worker stuff, but it just wasn't for me. Giving it 3 stars because that first chapter told me the author can write. She just didn't write what I wanted to read.