Jason Falco – a shapeshifter and famous baseball player. He owns the apartment building that Merry moves into. He just wants a normal relationship. And he gets it with Merry! He shifts into a falcon.
Merry MacKenzie – moves away from home into an apartment in Boston, owned by famous baseball player Jason Falco. Her apartment is haunted and she keeps this from Jason for a while. A PI is hired to find out who dun-it and this brings Merry and all her neighbors together so she/we can meet them all.
Chad – the ghost in the building.
Konrad – the werewolf upstairs.
Sly – the vampire crashing/hiding in the basement. And Merry’s real dad.
Main Premise: Merry is a nurse who moves out of her parent’s home for the first time. And she meets these strange folks who live in her apartment building, which is owned by famous baseball player Jason Falco. And, the building is occupied primarily by supernaturals, including a vampire in the basement and a werewolf upstairs. Jason is a shifter who has to hide this from Merry. The two start spending time together… and, well, this is a PNR book, so naturally they fall in love. Jason freaks when they try to spend Thanksgiving together. Merry’s apartment is haunted. And it turns out she is adopted and her father is the Vampire who lives in the basement.
Other Important Things to Remember for Later: Jason’s Aunt Dottie is really nosy and annoying. Lila was the reported who had it in for Jason to save her job, and maybe we’ll see more of her (or maybe not). The ladies upstairs are witches, who run a phone sex business out of their apartment (awesome!). Nathan works in the morgue and is a raven shifter. Sly saves Merry’s life at one point.
Review: This is another para-normal romance book. Although it is in a different category then Larissa Ione’s, Gena Showalter’s or JR Ward’s. And I’ll explain why. As I see it, there are a few different ways to approach this genre. You can have the big-bad evil “institution” of a bad guy, with the minions and overall story arch that never really gets you any closer to things being all ok in that universe – the story of each particular book only inching along the overall fight against the institutional bad guy and never really resolving anything much more then hooking up the lead guy and his gal. That’s the Showalter/Ione/Ward category for me. (The biggest problem with them are evidenced by J. Frank’s series with Noah/Gideon/Damien/etc… we got to the last character, but the overall story arch wasn’t solved; what a let down!)
Then, there are the ones like the Vegas Vamps and to some extent the Queen Betsy ones where there is a crisis but the overall story is much more resolved when the book is done. The relationship between the primary and secondary characters is really what drives the next book, not the need to beat some big evil. And the latter is where I place Strange Neighbors. And then there are the ones where I can’t really figure out what is driving the series – but I won’t comment on those (and I have read a few of them!)
Don’t get me wrong, I love both types of the PNR but to me there is a clear line between the two. And the latter, tend to be a little more comedic then the former. So…. that said, this fits wonderfully into that latter category.
The main characters, Merry and Jason are great. I love the little tidbits we get about each one of the wonderful strange neighbors who live in the building. The romance between Merry and Jason, I thought, was well done. There could have been a little more of the time they spent together, but what we did get was great.
I loved that Merry didn’t really need to be “rescued” (well, except for the attack that first night, but even that was awesome in that it wasn’t Jason who saved her). The reveals associated with each of the characters felt right and timely and wasn’t over done. Dottie… well, she was written well enough that I found myself from time to time audibly growling at her I was so annoyed with her. The side plots of the reporter and Chad, for some might take away from the book. For me, I thought it gave it depth. This was just as much about setting up a series (I think it’s the start of one anyway) as it was the romance between Jason and Merry.
The note from the author at the beginning set my expectations with respect to Chad – and here was where I felt let down. I expected to be laughing hysterically as Chad’s antics. He’s a ghost who believes he can get away with it after all (that’s a summary of the author’s note about Chad) – but he was only moderately amusing and from time to time quite annoying. But the story does get the PI involved and brings the residents together so we can get to know them.
The dialogue between Merry and Jason was well done. The imagery as well – for I could clearly picture the apartment building, the penthouse, etc., and yet I didn’t feel like the narrative descriptions obtruded with the rest of the story. I enjoyed the refreshing part where the fact that these folks are supernatural isn’t taken quite so seriously (the scene with Jason shifting in the elevator and still having his sweater on is a great and funny example of what I mean).
As for the steaminess, well, the few scenes are well done and tasteful while still very nice and steamy! And the epilogue… well, that was the steamiest part and definitely worth the read!
This is a fun little book with some interesting and amusing characters. I am eager to read Strange Neighbors #2!