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paranormal romantic suspense
Dr. Charlotte Stone #4
August 25, 2015
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In this world, Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Stone skillfully probes the twisted minds of incarcerated serial killers to better understand what makes them tick, and to help nab those who remain at large. But in the next world, Charlotte’s ghostly lover—convicted killer Michael Garland—is facing death yet again. It seem the only way Charlie can snatch Michael from the jaws of oblivion is by proving his innocence. And this dead man’s dead ringer may just be the key.
A mysterious stranger has turned up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, and Charlie is shocked to realize he could be Michael Garland’s identical twin. But she suspects the resemblance is only skin deep—and that behind the handsome face may lurk the perverse mind of a killer. While using all her keen profiling gifts, Charlie risks her life to discover the shocking secret that will clear Michael’s name.
Then a breakout at Wallens Ridge State Prison forces Charlie to contend with a sudden swarm of psychopaths bent on spilling blood. No one has a better chance of tracking down the deadly fugitives than Charlie—unless the rampaging killers manage to find her first and make this case her last. But Michael will move heaven and hell—and even make a devil’s bargain—for the chance to save Charlie’s life, and feel her touch once more . . . if only for the final time.
The books in this series have all been train-wreck books for me. When I say train-wreck, I mean in the sense that I can’t turn my eyes away, no matter how awful things get. I’d say they were crack, but having read my reviews of the earlier books in the series, they haven’t always been that good.
But they sure as hell are compelling.
The premise is a grand mix of packages off the troperville trolley. Dr. Charlotte Stone is a psychiatrist who studies serial killers. Why? Because she survived a serial killer’s rampage when she was a child, and she still feels guilty about hiding while her best friend was murdered in front of her.
Charlie Stone also sees dead people. So now we have a psychic psychiatrist.
It gets crazier. Charlie is writing up a study of serial killers at the local prison. She interviews these multiple murderers multiple times. It’s a dangerous job, and Charlie feels like she’s the one to figure out what makes these dudes tick.
Until her sexiest patient is shived right in front of her, and the ghost of serial killer Michael Garland attaches himself to Charlie Stone’s life and work. And this is where we enter crazytown, because Charlie falls in love with the damn ghost. And surprisingly vice-versa.
Hey, if you’re going to be crazy, go all the way!
When The Last Time I Saw Her starts, Charlie is in a bad way. At the end of the previous book, Her Last Whisper (reviewed here) Michael got sucked off to Spookyville for what looks like the last time. His soul is scheduled for demolition, and the only thing he is hanging on to is Charlie saying that she loves him. The demons that run Spookyville are tormenting him with visions of Charlie in danger, because, of course, she always is.
Consumed by grief, Charlie is at the end of her rope. Then two insane things happen. First, she meets a man who looks like Michael Garland’s twin brother. Second, and much more typical for Charlie, she finds herself captured by a whole gang of escaped serial killers as the entire set of death row inmates at Wallens Ridge State Prison scoop up Charlie and a whole bunch of others in their surprisingly well planned prison break.
While heads will definitely roll at the prison when the escape is investigated, Charlie is much, much more worried that all of the hostages’ heads will roll much sooner. All those men were in maximum security for damn good reasons, and now they’re out and determined to get payback. Breaking Charlie is pretty high on their collective “to do” lists.
Fortunately for Charlie, and unfortunately for the escaped killers, one of the other hostages is Michael Garland’s twin. And while the dude is unconscious, the real Michael makes a deal with his demon captors – if they let him save Charlie, he’ll let them have his soul.
You guessed it, Michael takes over the body of his twin and saves Charlie. They have two days to experience what life would have been like if they’d met under anything like normal circumstances. Then he’s gone forever.
Or is he?
Escape Rating B-: Rating this series is always confusing. I read this on a long flight over the weekend, and was at the 93% mark when the flight landed. I almost didn’t get out of my seat because I wanted to finish SO BAD.
On that other hand, the premise for this series is utterly insane. Psychiatrist gets targeted by serial killers over and over and over, and she sees dead people. She falls in love with the baddest bad boy of them all, and tries to help him cheat death – or the afterlife – whatever.
And for most of the series, it’s not just that he is a convicted serial killer, but that the case is airtight. While Charlie wants to believe that Michael didn’t do it, it’s hard not to think that’s her heart (and other places further south) talking and not her head.
The one thing I didn’t think was remotely possible in this mess was a happy ending, but the author managed to pull one out anyway. The method for doing so is one I’ve seen used in fanfiction a few too many times. Going back and changing the past, in order to make the future come out closer to what you want. This is the point where the story tripped completely into woo-woo territory.
But the ending, as hokey as it was, was surprisingly satisfying. Charlie drove me crazy every single step of the way, but I still wanted her to get her HEA. Even as my eyes roll at the way it was achieved.
All’s fair in love and war and paranormal romance.
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