Better Homes and Hauntings

Better Homes and Hauntings

by Molly Harper

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Overview

Author of the beloved Half Moon Hollow series of vampire romances (Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs), Molly Harper has created a standalone paranormal romance in which a dilapidated haunted house could bring star-crossed lovers together—if it doesn’t kill them first!

When Nina Linden is hired to landscape a private island off the New England coast, she sees it as her chance to rebuild her failing business after being cheated by her unscrupulous ex. She never expects that her new client, software mogul Deacon Whitney, would see more in her than just a talented gardener. Deacon has paid top dollar to the crews he’s hired to renovate the desolate Whitney estate—he had to, because the bumps, thumps, and unexplained sightings of ghostly figures in nineteenth-century dress are driving workers away faster than he can say “Boo.”

But Nina shows no signs of being scared away, even as she experiences some unnerving apparitions herself. And as the two of them work closely together to restore the mansion’s faded glory, Deacon realizes that he’s found someone who doesn’t seem to like his fortune more than himself—while Nina may have finally found the one man she can trust with her bruised and battered heart.

But something on the island doesn’t believe in true love…and if Nina and Deacon can’t figure out how to put these angry spirits to rest, their own love doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476706030
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: 06/24/2014
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 167,464
File size: 10 MB

About the Author

Molly Harper is the author of two popular series of paranormal romance, the Half-Moon Hollow series and the Naked Werewolf series. She also writes the Bluegrass ebook series of contemporary romance. A former humor columnist and newspaper reporter, she lives in Michigan with her family, where she is currently working on the next Southern Eclectic novel. Visit her on the web at MollyHarper.com.

Read an Excerpt

Better Homes and Hauntings




  • BEWARE ALL ENTERPRISES that start with the purchase of Crocs.

    Nina Linden glared down at the bright orange clogs protecting her from slipping on the deck of the S.S. Sine Waves and, for the third time that morning, cursed her assistant’s poor choice in boating shoes. Too wrapped up in the details of the Whitney project for shopping, Nina had told Carrie she needed something safe to wear when ferrying back and forth between Narragansett, Rhode Island, and Whitney Island, something that wouldn’t be ruined by traipsing through the gardens she was responsible for resuscitating. Nina should have been more specific. She should have said, No foam-rubber shoes in radioactive colors that make me walk like a hobbled duck.

    But considering that she was barely able to pay Carrie—who was a competent and loyal assistant in all areas save fashion sense—Nina knew she shouldn’t complain. The shoes, while unfortunate, were not what she needed to focus on right now. She needed to pull herself out of her negative funk. This was the start of a new phase in her life. Demeter Designs would be a going concern. Hell, it would be a sought-after service among the ridiculously rich. All she had to do was survive the next three months.

    Nina leaned her forehead against the sun-warmed teak railing of the perfectly lovely yacht used to ferry the renovation staff back and forth to Whitney Island, a small spit of land twenty miles southeast of Newport.

    Nina had been through so much worse than seasickness in the past year. Near-bankruptcy. Identity theft. Stolen garden tools. This was going to be an adventure, she promised herself. She’d played it too safe with Rick, and it had cost her. She needed this time away. She needed to clear her head.

    The other passengers seemed nice enough. They’d all boarded the Whitney yacht at the same time, and of course, Nina had immediately managed to whack the GQ cover model running the boat in the shin with her rolling suitcase. Instead of getting annoyed, he’d simply offered her a brilliant white smile and taken her bag in addition to his own.

    The other woman on board, a sweet-faced blonde who might have doubled for a fairy-tale princess if not for her Jessica Rabbit figure, was clearly at home on the rocking, creaking vessel. The minute she’d stowed her bags, she’d slipped on her sunglasses, slipped off her shoes, and begun sunning herself on the deck on top of the tiny cabin. For a moment, Nina thought she was the girlfriend of their benefactor, but then she realized how unlikely it was that social-media magnate Deacon Whitney would have let his girlfriend make the crossing with “the help.” Nina wasn’t exactly sure what the other woman’s role was to be in this . . . mission of theirs.

    Twenty-eight and so upwardly mobile he practically had his own galaxy, Mr. Whitney was the sole programmer/creator of EyeDee, a social-networking site with nearly one billion users that had changed the face of online interactions. Users could “EyeContact” anyone from former high school classmates to childhood friends to—heaven forbid—their parents and share every waking moment of their lives. Whitney had launched the site just after graduating from New York University, eventually parlaying a public offering of his company’s stock into one of the largest personal fortunes in the United States. He was now using that fortune to restore his family’s dilapidated Gilded Age mansion to its former glory, using the team now assembled on the yacht.

    Nina knew she should walk over and say hello to the others. They were going to be working and living together on the Crane’s Nest property over the next few months, until the renovations were finished. But at the moment, she could only concentrate on keeping her breakfast down.

    The boat hit a particularly rough wake, pitching Nina back against the cabin. She moaned, bending at the knees and propping her arms against her thighs.

    A smooth, tanned hand appeared at the corner of Nina’s vision, bearing brightly wrapped candies. She startled, drawing up to her full height, and swayed. The other hand steadied her at the elbow. “Whoa, there,” he said, a laughing lilt to his soothing tone.

    “Sorry about that.” Nina groaned, squinting up at the owner of the outstretched hand.

    “Seasick, huh?” he said, eyeing her sympathetically over the rims of his mirrored aviators.

    “Ever since I was a kid,” she said, glaring at the water glittering in the distance. “I ruined every family fishing trip. My brother always told me it would help to keep my eye on the horizon. But I think my brother is a dirty liar.”

    “Try these,” he said, pressing a few foil-wrapped candies into her clammy palm. “Ginger drops. They’ll help your stomach. And as far as the horizon goes, I think it’s better to concentrate on more immediate surroundings.”

    Unwrapping the candy, Nina followed his line of sight to the blonde’s long, tanned legs and rolled her eyes. Of course, he was eyeing the pretty blonde. He was practically a work of preppy art himself. Perfectly mussed sandy hair, bright blue-green eyes twinkling out over the aforementioned aviators. Pressed khakis, a light purple madras under a navy sport coat. He was fit and tan and managed to pull off the “lavender shirt” thing without seeming effeminate.

    Well, not terribly effeminate. Definitely metrosexual.

    Watching his eyes trace the line of the blonde’s ankles, Nina subconsciously rubbed a hand over the bridge of her nose, which tended to burn if she wasn’t religious with the sunscreen—the price of being a redhead. Typical, she thought wryly: the blonde got ogled, and she got treated like a kid sister.

    The man’s lips quirked a bit when he realized Nina had caught him looking. “Jake Rumson,” he said, offering his hand. “Amateur yachtsman and chief architect who’s supposed to be undoing the mess we’re getting into.”

    “Nina,” she said. “Linden.”

    “Like the tree,” he said, smiling. “You’re with Demeter Designs.”

    “Like the tree, exactly,” she said, a genuine grin breaking through her uneasy expression. She tamped it down quickly. “Not everybody catches that.”

    “I cheated,” Jake whispered, the smooth façade melting a bit to reveal a naughty-schoolboy smile. “I got a look at Whit’s staff list ahead of time. You’re the landscape architect, and you’re named after a tree, and bam, instant mnemonic device.”

    “Do you use little tricks like that often?” she asked.

    “You’re reducing my famous charm to parlor tricks? That’s harsh,” Jake teased, elbowing her in the ribs.

    Months before, this sort of casual contact, particularly from a man she didn’t know, would have made Nina edgy and uncomfortable. She was proud that she’d progressed enough that her only response was a faint blush.

    “Well, what do you know about Cindy Ellis, over there?” he asked. “She owns the Cinderella Cleaning Service.”

    “Never heard of her.” Nina lifted her brow. “She’s a maid?” Whitney’s extensive service contract hadn’t mentioned anything about providing maid service.

    “Not exactly. Ms. Ellis—as she insists I call her—runs a sort of maid-slash-organizational-guru service. She cleans and installs those crazy storage systems in some of the swankiest family-owned estates in Rhode Island. Families who own places like that are always circulating collections of antique furnishings, Christmas decorations, that sort of thing. Ms. Ellis can organize, store, and reset those furnishings on a seasonal system that even the dumbest millionaire could figure out.”

    “Are you saying we’re working for a dumb millionaire?” Nina asked, the corners of her lush mouth tilting up.

    Jake snorted, grinning at her over the rims of his aviators. “First of all, Whit’s a billionaire. And second, it wasn’t his idea to hire her. The Crane’s Nest has been virtually looted by various generations of Whitneys over the years, but there are bound to be a few valuables tucked away where the relatives’ enterprising little paws couldn’t reach. The family is demanding that Whit catalogue every item of historical or monetary value and save it so that they can do battle over them later.”

    Nina frowned. “But it’s Mr. Whitney’s house.”

    “House, yes. Furnishings, no. And Whit’s too decent of a guy to follow my advice, which involved letters from attorneys and a lot of four-letter words.”

    Nina giggled but covered it with a cough. Despite his slick exterior, Nina believed she was going to like Jake—or at least, his ability to make her forget how miserable she was for a moment. If nothing else, he was sharing insider information about their mysterious employer, a precious commodity in this harebrained scheme she’d signed on for—living full-time on the job site for an open-ended period of time with people she barely knew.

    Mr. Whitney had informed Nina during her interview that he wanted to be each contractor’s full-time first priority until the job was completed, that he wanted to reduce opportunities for the contractors to be distracted by other clients’ demands. But according to two contractors Nina had overheard in Whitney’s waiting room, his chief concern was the fact that there had already been several false starts to the renovations. He’d previously lost contractors and workers to “frayed nerves,” courtesy of angry thumping footsteps on the stairway between the second and third floors, strange shifting shadows that darted around at the corners of one’s eyes, the overwhelming sense that someone was watching. The upstairs bedrooms smelled of rose water when no one had sprayed perfume there in decades. And of course, there was the sound of weeping that came from the widow’s walk. Keeping the restorers from returning home every night was supposed to prevent them from losing their nerve to come back to the island in the morning. Not to mention that it would save them the lengthy water commute.

    Nina cleared her throat, trying to find an innocuous reason for the staff to be sequestered. “Would Mr. Whitney’s shaky relationship with his extended family have anything to do with our being hidden away on the island for the summer? I know I wouldn’t want to take the chance that one of us could be persuaded to sneak stuff back to the mainland.”

    “No, but that’s just one more pro for the list,” Jake said brightly, offering her his most charming grin. “Whit wants to finish the project as quickly as possible, and the best way to do that is to have your full attention and have the team stay within shouting distance in case there are problems.”

    Nina arched a sleek red brow. “That sounded like a well-rehearsed statement.”

    Jake’s smile stayed resolutely in place, as if he hadn’t heard her.

    Nina asked, “Why do you call him ‘Whit’?”

    Jake leaned against the cabin, copying her posture. “Our moms were close friends at college, so we’ve known each other since we were in diapers. Even when we were kids, you could tell he had something the rest of us didn’t, that spark of genius that meant he was either going to be a CEO or a supervillain. And in a very conservative prep school that valued conformity and had the resources to guarantee a certain ‘aesthetic standard,’ a scrawny, six-foot-three freshman who loved comics and D and D stood out. I had an easier time of it, but ‘Deke the Geek’ was bullied like it was his job. Instead of getting all bitter about it, he was still the most decent person I knew. Hell, when my parents refused to believe that a Rumson could have something as pedestrian as ADHD—despite an official diagnosis from people who actually went to medical school—it was Whit who figured out tricks to help me focus and study. I probably wouldn’t have graduated from high school, much less college, without his helping me. So I helped him avoid being tossed into Dumpsters whenever possible and came up with a nickname that didn’t remind him of the assholes we called classmates.”

    Yes, Nina was going to like Jake Rumson—potentially douchey prep vibe and all.

    “You OK there?” Cindy asked, sliding off her perch to fetch Nina a bottle of water from a pretty polished metal cooler. She eyed Jake suspiciously.

    “Barely containing my vomit,” Nina said with a sigh.

    Cindy’s brow furrowed. “Is . . . that ‘OK’ for you?”

    “It’s normal for me,” Nina said, extending her hand for a shake. “Nina Linden.”

    “Cindy Ellis. Nice to meet you,” she said, giving Jake one last warning look before ducking back around the corner of the cabin and into the galley.

    “Somebody’s got a friend already,” Jake singsonged, wriggling his eyebrows at her.

    “She just feels bad for me.”

    Jake shook his head. “Nope, I have a sense for this sort of thing, Nina Linden, and you are a lady who draws people to her, like moths to a sassy but vulnerable flame. I’ll bet Deacon will fall all over himself when he sees you. I should warn you. He makes random Star Wars references when he’s nervous. So expect a lot of Lando Calrissian jokes.”

    “Yes, who could resist the pasty-green girl who looks like she’s on the verge of puking?” Nina pushed her windblown mess of thick auburn hair out of her face.

    “Some guys are into the Exorcist look,” he said, shrugging.

    She let out an indignant grunt—half laugh, half gasp—and slapped at his shoulder.

    “See? You’re feeling better already,” Jake said. “Hitting me with the force of a toddler must have required some energy—Ow!” He yelped as she whacked him again, with significantly more strength. He chuckled as a bit of color crept back into her cheeks. “You’ll be all right.” He nodded to the horizon line again. “And here is your first introduction to the lady herself.”

    Once the playground where the indecently rich escaped the heat and “vapors” of the big cities each summer, Newport was now a respectable tourist destination. The upper class still retreated to their private clubs and the middle class toured monuments to excess built by families such as the Vanderbilts and the Astors. During the so-called Gilded Age, mansions like the Breakers and Miramar set new standards in architectural extravagance, while the ever-so-riche matrons fought for dominance of the social scene. At the tail end of this era, Gerald Whitney had chosen to separate himself even further by building his home on his own private island.

    Long before the Whitneys were a wealthy family, Gerald Whitney’s great-great-great-grandfather Loudon was a simple sailor who ferried people around the bays surrounding Rhode Island. Eventually, those little bays and inlets became very important to the Revolutionary War effort. Loudon volunteered his services and his growing fleet of boats to get the Colonial troops where they were most needed, all along the seaboard. His assistance was instrumental in winning some of those first early skirmishes. Loudon invested more and more into the boats as time went by and continued to allow the Colonials to use them. He was rewarded handsomely and made friends among the earliest politicians. He made a particular friend of the governor of Rhode Island when he managed to get the governor’s son to a doctor after he was wounded in battle. The governor showed his appreciation by rewarding him in the way of the old country, with land grants. Of course, at the time, the island was virtually useless. Who would want to live on a tiny spit of land twenty miles off the mainland? But old Mr. Whitney thanked the governor profusely and held on to it. Gerald Whitney was the first to make any use of it.

    As for the house itself, the Crane’s Nest rose out of the water like a drowned debutante, her fine lines eroded and obscured, tangling into the overgrown green expanse of Whitney Island. Nina could see evidence of what had once been an exacting geometric landscaping plan leading up to a rounded porte cochere, hiding the massive front doors in its dark, cavernous maw. The gardens were long past feral, with dry, withered grass strangling the remains of statuary and rosebushes. The façade consisted of three levels, a loggia flanked by two-story wings leading into the main structure. Rows of windows stared back at her with the blank sheen of dolls’ eyes. A ring of tall chimneys crowned a flat slate roof, echoing the pattern of blunt cornices extending from the porte cochere.

    Despite the warm, sunny afternoon, there was an air of melancholy to the house, and not just in the overall state of disrepair and decay. The patina of age and grime over the battered gray limestone seemed like a black mark on the house’s soul, a warning to passersby to move along. Contentment and happiness were not to be found in the Crane’s Nest.

    The photos that had been provided for Nina’s bid hadn’t prepared her for the sheer size of the building. It felt as if the house could tumble down the sloping yard and swallow their little boat at any moment. All the more reason for Nina to want to disembark as quickly as possible.

    As they drew near shore, Jake ducked behind the helm and started making adjustments to the boat’s trajectory, calling out an occasional request to Cindy to pull a line or tighten a sail. With Nina out of commission and no other sailors aboard, Cindy’s reluctant, untrained help was the best Jake could get. The boat jolted with a splash and made a slow turn, causing Nina to groan.

    She couldn’t help but feel as if they were intruding, their arrival disrupting the house’s slumber. The Crane’s Nest had stood for nearly one hundred years, untouched and uninhabited. And now Nina felt as if she’d wandered into a church full of people to ask directions, only to realize she’d interrupted a wake.

    Nina felt Cindy approach from her right, staring up at the decrepit mansion.

    “Just a little cottage built for two,” Cindy mused, sliding her cat’s-eye sunglasses up through her thick mane of curls. “Complete with twelve bedrooms, a formal dining room, and an evil spirit in the basement that wants to eat your soul, if the urban-legend Web sites I read are to be believed. I mean, who wouldn’t want this gem for their weekend place?”

    “I don’t think the Whitneys were known for their subtlety,” Nina said, trying to focus on anything but the quivering tumble of her stomach.

    “You realize that as the blonde, I’m probably going to be picked off first,” Cindy muttered.

    “Picked off?” Nina asked.

    “Did you not hear me mention the soul-eating ghoul in the basement?” Cindy teased. “In the movies, the blonde always gets killed first, to establish the rules on Certain Death Island, such as ‘Don’t wander off on your own to go to the bathroom’ and ‘It’s not a great idea to wear a negligee to investigate spooky noises armed only with a flickering candle.’?”

    “But you could be a postmodern blonde,” Nina suggested. “You could be Buffy or Naomi Watts in The Ring. They were always the last girls standing.”

    “Oh, we’re going to get along just fine, hon,” Cindy told her, patting her shoulder. “You get extra cool points for any Jossverse reference.”

    “Well, that’s a relief.” Squinting in the glaring afternoon light, Nina traced the line of the roof with her eyes, admiring the wrought-iron railing that enclosed the widow’s walk. There was potential for a terrace garden there, from what she’d seen in the pictures. She was trying to estimate the roof’s square footage when a dark feminine figure stepped up to the wrought-iron boundary. Nina gasped. A cold wave of nausea washed through her as the dark shape seemed to stare down at the approaching boat. For a moment, Nina thought she could make out the lines of an old-fashioned gown, a slim waist, dark twists of long hair blowing in the wind. But there was no detail to the face or form, only shadow. Nina shivered and braced herself against the bow, taking deep breaths. When she looked up at the roof again, the figure was gone.

    “Is it always this quiet?” Cindy asked, surveying the island with a worried expression.

    “Yes,” Jake called from behind the wheel. “The Crane’s Nest is the only home on the island. So, no crazy neighbors or barking dogs to keep you up at night. Don’t worry, though. We’ll make some noise soon enough,” he told her. Cindy’s delft-blue eyes narrowed at the suggestion, and Jake’s cheeks flushed. “I meant with construction equipment and workers! Hammering, nailing . . . oh, good God, there is no recovery from this, is there?”

    He looked to Nina for help, but the sudden deceleration of the boat plus the possible hallucinations of shadowy figures had finally tipped the scales in her battle with nausea. She was currently bent over the rail, saying good-bye to her breakfast.

    Cindy rushed over to Nina, whipped a blue bandanna from her pocket, soaked it with Nina’s water bottle, and held it to the back of the ailing redhead’s neck. She looked to Jake, who surveyed the scene with a horrified expression. “What did you do?” she hissed at him.

    “I didn’t do that to her. Poor inner ear dynamics did that to her.”

    “Well, you must have done something! I know I’ve wanted to throw up since boarding this boat with you.”

    “Me? What did I do?”

    Cindy exclaimed, “You’re you. That’s all it takes!”

    Oddly hurt, Jake turned on his heel and devoted his attention to running the boat. “Well, it can only get better from here.”

  • Customer Reviews

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    Better Homes and Hauntings 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
    BooksnKisses More than 1 year ago
    NUMBER OF HEARTS:  4 3/4 REVIEW:  What is one to do when they are part of a family that has a curse looming over them?  And said person is the first successful person in the family in generations?  And said person owns the family’s haunted island?   Well if you are Deacon Whitney, you hire a group of the best of the best and clean and revamp that house.  All while ignoring the things you don’t want to see.   Deacon may have everyone’s best interest at heart in this new project but it becomes clear that they are not the only ones on the island.  The biggest question is who is going to win?     Love love love this book!!  But then again I have not picked up (or in this case listened to) a Molly Harper book that I have not loved.  I just love her snarky characters that always have a way of getting into a lot of trouble with minimal damage inflicted on others. I really hope that this will not be the end of the Whitney Island gang (as I would like to call them).  I have already submitted my request for a novella for Jack & Cindy and a book for Dotty.   Why you ask.  Well you will just need to pick up a copy of Better Homes & Hauntings and find out ;) Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley, Pocketbooks & Brilliance Audio in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review. 
    BaronessBookTrove More than 1 year ago
    Spooky, funny, witty, supernatural mystery with a touch of love. I really enjoyed this audio book. The story is wonderful. I loved the nerdy comments, the film references, and the witty conversations. The hauntings added just the right amount of spookiness. Deacon is an unusual hero. He has the background of old money and yet the money he uses to rebuild the family home is from money that he has made himself in the tech world. I love that Deacon was extremely comfortable in his own skin, even though others didn’t agree with his decisions. He has an eclectic taste in movies and is a self-proclaimed Si-Fi nerd. Deacon has a way of making things fun even when it is serious. However, Deacon doesn’t believe in the hauntings at first but he goes along with the others. Nina is a great character. She starts out meek and afraid of her own shadow, who unfolds much like her beloved flowers. It just took friendship, love, and acceptance for her to bloom. She is extremely talented in landscape design. The indoor room that she creates is so easy to picture. I loved the ideas that Nina has for the gardens and the interior. She loves to dig and design but she truly has a heart of gold. Nina is highly sensitive to the hauntings on the island, it made me think that she was the one related to the ghosts. The supporting cast is great too. They all make a wonderful team. Jake and Cindy with their little romance of sorts, along with Dottie and the others all fit together wonderfully with a comedic attitude toward finding the cause of the haunting. The way they each deal with the supernatural haunting on the island adds a real belief to the story. They form this wonderful family unit. It is extremely nice the way that they protect, support and work together. The narrator, Amanda Ronconi does a wonderful job. She has a way of playing off the suspense in the story and the voices that she uses to add a warmth to the story are lovely. This was the first book that I have read (heard) by Molly Harper, I truly enjoyed it and will be looking up some of her other books. The pop culture references and snarkiness is the best. My rating is 5 stars. This is a Guest Review for Baroness’ Book Trove. Thank you for the opportunity to review this book for your site. ~Jen To see other reviews like this one please check out my site: baronessbooktrove.com
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I've loved all of Molly Harper's other books but this one did not flow like the rest. For me, it was boring, very difficult to stick with. It felt like it was written by someone else entirely.
    Life_Long_Movie_Watcher More than 1 year ago
    Better Homes and Hauntings is a fun, easy read! Not terribly complicated but fun characters, fast and witty dialogue, and a group of people whom you like. The best part of this book is the friendship between the 3 female characters -- they are friends -- not witchy, backstabbing, gossipy like so many female characters are portrayed around each other! A ghost story set in a derelict mansion on an isolated island. Follow the ghosts, the stories, the characters and enjoy! This was my first Molly Harper book and I'm going right now to get one of the series!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is a GREAT book! This is my first Molly Harper book and I bought it after reading the back cover. Boy - what fun! I read it 4-5 times already and still love it. The characters are great, each playing a key role. It was extremely entertaining and I will be looking for her other books!
    weluvdopey More than 1 year ago
    Great Book! This was a great book by Molly Harper. Nina was hired by Deacon to landscape the grounds of his island home. Nina jumps at the chance to escape to the island; it also gives her a chance to rebuild her business after she was cheated by her ex. Once Nina starts working on the old home, she starts seeing ghostly figures and unexplained noises, but she is not going to be scared off like the other workers. I loved the characters, they were fun and witty. I am looking forward to reading the next book by this author.  A Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.
    gaele More than 1 year ago
    I’m a fan of Harper’s Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs series: smart, funny, occasional lapses into near slapstick comedy, the AudioBook version is my retreat when I need to decompress. So I had high hopes for this PNR,  and I wasn’t disappointed.  Many of the things that have come to be the “standard’ for this author are in this book: snarky humor, intriguing and offbeat characters, sweet and often awkward romances and solid world-building that describes the setting  to give readers easily accessible visual references.  The Set Up:  There is a house in grave disrepair on an island off the coast of New England. Owned by Deacon Whitney, a billionaire software code writer who created a social network, he’s decided the rumors of hauntings and some old family secrets will not hinder his desire to restore the estate.  To that end, he hires a mix of people, from friends to family, to oversee and perform the renovation over the coming months. What he doesn’t count on is the fast friendships that are formed, the mysteries surrounding the family secret, or the rather bothersome spirits that are impeding all of the progress.  This story starts by introducing all of the characters and getting to know their voices and approach: a bit too  much head-hopping to present the multiple perspectives did get confusing, but as the characters developed and their voices strengthened, it was easier to sort them out. As the story progressed, the interactions and  interplay between the characters develops several distinct rhythms, which add to both the pacing and flow of  the story. It felt like Harper needed a bit of time to warm up to the multiple POV storytelling: once warmed up,  the story moves forward fairly well, even if some of the elements feel familiar.  Romances were adorable: Deacon and Nina’s awkwardness was enhanced by the ‘geek speak’ and Nina’s reluctance to trust yet another person after having been burned so badly kept them dancing about their attraction.  While Jake and Cindy knew each other from before, their snarking and sniping at one another as  they went from haters to friends to more was usually funny to watch, and their interactions felt real and possible. With a rather G-rated set of ghosts and plenty of mystery to unravel in the Whitney family history, a rather off-kilter cousin who is gung-ho about EVERYTHING (but fortunately adorably so) and some wonderful  descriptions of the house, island and one another, I enjoyed this story despite a bit of confusion early on.  If you are a fan of Harper, you will find some of the ‘familiar’ humor and character development here: you  just have to be a bit patient to let the story fall into place.  I received an eBook copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love anything molly haper writes
    TheAvidReader_KA More than 1 year ago
    Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper is a cute paranormal romance novel. Nina Linden is a landscape architect and owns Demeter Designs. Nina has been chosen by Deacon Whitney to do the landscaping on his rundown family mansion Crane's Nest on Whitney Island. It is over a hundred years old and no one has lived in it since the original mistress, Catherine Whitney died. There have been supernatural sightings for many years and the mansion is believed to be haunted. Deacon has also hired Cindy Ellis of Cinderella Cleaning Service to clean up the house and organize it as well as Jake Rumson is Deacon's friend and also the architect on the project. Nina, Jake, and Cindy along with Deacon will be the only people staying full-time on the island. Well, they were supposed to be the only people staying until Dotty, Deacon's cousin, shows up. Dotty wants to write a book about the history of the house, family, and fixing up of the house. As soon as they hit the island, Nina sees a shadowy figure on the widow walk of the house. As they spend more time on the island, they all start to feel the spirits. Nina and Deacon are each having dreams. Nina is seeing things through Catherine's point of view and Deacon is seeing the same events through a gentleman's point of view. They are not sure if the man is Catherine's husband, Gerald or Jack, the man presumed to be her lover. Dotty wants to find out what really happened to Catherine. Who killed her and did she really have an affair with Jack. Nina is hoping to get away from her former partner, Rick Douglas. He has been stalking her, running up credit card debt in her name, and destroying her work sites. As Deacon and Nina get closer, Deacon is determined to keep Nina safe. The story can be a wee bit confusing at times. It is not just told from one point of view. It rotates between the main characters. You can be reading about Cindy and then it switches to Jack, then to Dotty, and so on. Better Homes and Hauntings, though, is a charming story. It has romance, mystery, and paranormal activity. It is a good book, but not as good as Molly Harper's vampire books (they are wonderful)! I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    NH62 More than 1 year ago
    This book was great. I would highly recommend this book. I'd purchase more titles by these authors.
    vikingprincess1976 More than 1 year ago
    Ok, I have read all of Molly Harper's books, and I have to say this was not my favorite of hers. That being said, I DID enjoy this book, just not as much as the Half Moon Hollow series. It doesn't have as much fun in it as her usual fare, but it has a nice story to it. Some people will like it, some won't...
    IAmy More than 1 year ago
    I received this book from the publisher through Net Galley for an honest review. My Review: I love Molly Harper’s Jane Jameson and Half Moon Hollow series, so when I saw this title of hers over at Net Galley I hit the request button, despite the fact that I have been playing catch up. This is a stand-alone book of hers and is more supernatural than paranormal in nature. It was also written a little different from the other books I have read in her series. This book was told from the perspective of all the four, no five, main characters instead of just being in the head of the two love interests. Ms. Harper’s legendary wit and humor is still present along with some great friendships between the characters. If you love Ms. Harper’s other books I would definitely be adding this title to your to-read list. So I did enjoy the book, but it wasn’t until the end that it earned its fourth star. I don’t think this has anything to do with the writing or story line, but more with the fact that I tend to prefer the paranormal over the supernatural. I just don’t think I’m a fan of ghost stories, but I’m glad I stuck this one out. The switching between so many characters took some getting used to and I felt it took longer to bond/identify with the main character in the synopsis, Nina. The mystery was intriguing and it was nice to have a book where everything was resolved in wrapped up by the end. I love my series, but there is something nice about reading a stand-alone every now and again. I’m glad the author didn’t stretch this out into a series, I think the book might have lost something if it was padded with filler to stretch things out. The characters were a hoot as always with this author’s books. She has a talent for writing great friendships. If you are not a fan of insta-love then you might have a problem with insta-friends, but for me it worked. This is a group of people thrown onto an isolated island to work for the summer it was nice to see them as a team and not as adversaries. There was a little tension between Cindy and Jake, but it played nicely to set up the sexual tension between the two love interests. Nina was interesting, but a little wishy-washy, but I think that was how the character was meant to come off. Deacon was great though. He was this geeky/tech hottie and was such a nice change of pace for a main love interest. I loved, LOVED, all the comic/super hero/pop culture references in this book! For me Nina and Deacon were a great paring and it was fun to read their coming together. This was a fun read. Great for taking to a beach or reading in a hammock on a summer afternoon. It will make you laugh with its silliness and keep you turning the page to find out what happens in the mystery. Again, if you are a fan of Molly Harper’s other books, add this one to your list. If you haven’t read any of her other titles, give this stand-alone a try to see if she is a good match for you.
    TheLustyLiterate More than 1 year ago
    3.5 Stars | Moderate Steam Cinematic and alluring, BETTER HOMES AND HAUNTINGS reads like your favorite Masterpiece Mystery on PBS. With its charming cast of colorful characters and enough sexual tension to keep things lively, this well woven romantic folly provided hours of spooky entertainment that kept me guessing. So much fun! Complimentary copy provided in exchange for an honest review.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love all of Molly Harper's other books, so I have no idea what happened with this one. It was so boring! I really regret buying this. The POV switched alot, but all the character's inner voices sounded the same, so it was impossible to tell who was talking. Also, boring. I feel bad for not liking it, because Molly Harper is awesome, but wow, didn't click with me at all.
    Sandy-thereadingcafe More than 1 year ago
    4.25 stars-BETTER HOMES AND HAUNTINGS is the latest stand alone, paranormal storyline from the amazing mind of Molly Harper. A ghost story with humor, sarcasm, friendship, love and a HEA, our intrepid crew have been hired to update and renovate the nineteenth century Whitney family owned mansion-known as Crane’s Nest- on a private island near the New England Coast. Better Homes and Hauntings follows landscaper Nina Linden, billionaire Deacon Whitney, organizer Cindy Ellis, architect Jake Rumson and Deacon’s cousin Dotty Whitney as they forage through old diaries looking for clues to the death of Catherine Whitney-the original wife of Gerald Whitney –presumably murdered by the man that she loved. The stories surrounding the ghostly spirits that haunt the old mansion come to life as each of our characters will fall victim to memories of the past. The storyline focuses on the building relationship between Deacon and Nina-a relationship that is plagued by nightmares, ghostly apparitions and someone else’s memories. We follow organizer and cleaner Cindy as she toys with the affections of Deacon’s best friend and architect Jake-a man who doesn’t recall the first time he met the vivacious Cindy Ellis; and the eccentric Dotty Whitney-a woman who is determined to write a biography of Gerald and Catherine Whitney-the original inhabitants and owners of Crane’s Nest whose reputation and deaths have followed the Whitney family legacy to the present day. Molly Harper pulls the reader into a storyline of ghostly hauntings, angry spirits, mystery, possession and missing family heirlooms.  As the ensemble cast of friends begins to uncover the secrets of the past, the spirits will step up their game until one of them finally breaks-possession is a nasty way to seek revenge and the truth.  BETTER HOMES AND HAUNTINGS is an entertaining storyline of mystery, suspense and romance where the ghosts of the past refuse to move on. It is a story of one family’s tainted past; a past that has haunted the descendants throughout the years and a past that is seeking revenge for a murder that was never solved.  Molly Harper’s remarkable storylines blend humor, love, friendship and family in a lively, spirited and clever presentation that everyone will enjoy.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Judy-Ree More than 1 year ago
    I won the dead tree version of this book from another blogger and was thrilled, because I adore Molly Harper. Regardless, I had noticed that this book got some very mixed reviews, so I was a bit... conflicted about reading the book. The first couple of chapters were hard to get into, mainly because the POV kept switching between the 4 main characters in the book: Nina, Deacon, Jake and Cindy. There were ruminations, memories, and getting to know you's to help get us caught up on each of the characters. And with 4 of them, it did take a bit. But once the framework was in place, the story took off. Molly Harper's signature dialogue was found throughout this book. I love the way her characters interact with one another. With 2 would be couples, 1 slightly kooky cousin, multiple ghostly encounters, and a bad guy, there is a lot going on in this book. The initial set up was critical to make the rest of it seem not only plausible, but probable. As this is a Romance, albeit one with paranormal aspects, there is a guaranteed HEA. Plus stand alone, so no cliffhanger ending. There were several instances that made me smile, a couple that had me giggling out loud and several deep, satisfied sighs. Overall, a most excellent use of my lunch time over the period of a week.  I gave it 3 stars. 
    LoriannJ More than 1 year ago
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, however, at a little past the middle of the book, I figured out exactly who killed Catherine.  That was a downer because I love to be surprised.  Other than that, I loved all of the main characters, loved the haunting and it gave me chills and made me pull my feet up under me so no spirit would grab them.  lol  It was a fun ride.  I would love to read more books about these characters.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    very enjoyable
    Happywitch More than 1 year ago
    Great Book… I have enjoyed all her Naked werewolf series and all the Nice Girl series novels. And, this was no different. I to wish there would be follow up novels. I really liked the characters. The only complaint I had ****SPOILER ALERT*** Was that in the story they go in with everyone thinking & saying Catherine was killed by her Husband Gerald & never give a thought that it may have been someone else. I felt very early on that there was no real evidence that it was him & it annoyed me in parts where they should of questioned it a little to give you the thought of mystery that maybe three was another suspect, even if in the end Gerald did kill her. I still enjoyed it & loved the ending! Even though I could not give it a 5… I will still read whatever novel she puts out next. I love her writing style & enjoy all the books I have read by her.
    SarahSmith More than 1 year ago
    I received an ARC from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. Molly Harper is pretty much the master of snark at this point! This is apparently a stand alone paranormal book, but I kind of wish there was going to be more heard from this group! Perhaps a christmas novella. All of the characters were fantastically funny and the story, though cheesy at times, had me laughing out loud so much that I didn't even notice or care. I loved every bit of it and found it extremely hard to put down.
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago