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    Quirky charm

    I’ve read the other Southern Eclectic novels, and found them ridiculously hilarious. They’re funny, sweet, and light, a bit like biting into one of those eponymous Georgia peaches, but there’s also a good dose of snark to add to that southern charm. While I think you could pick this up as a standalone, the amount of secondary characters (including Frankie’s enormous family) may be overwhelming if this is your first visit to Lake Sackett and the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop. Frankie, the mortician at her family’s funeral home, was one of my favorite side characters from the other books, so I was excited she was getting her own book. Eric’s the new sheriff, though not a stranger to Frankie – they had a one-night-stand on her last visit to Atlanta. Why, exactly, he’s gone from being a big city cop to rural Lake Sackett’s sheriff and chief pain in her butt (she’s also the county coroner, and he seems to see foul play everywhere) is a mystery, but Frankie eventually realizes she needs his help to deal with a series of escalating pranks. She’s certain she knows who the perpetrator is, and that his end goal is to break into the funeral home on Halloween – something unthinkable to Frankie, who greets each of the earthly remains trusted to her care by name every morning and has conversations with them. Frankie is a childhood cancer survivor, and her parents, well, still haven’t quite adjusted to the fact that she’s an adult now. Part of it may be that she had a funky sense of style (dyed hair and nerdy T-shirts), part of it may be that she does still act younger than her age, like engaging in arguments with a snotty teenager. She’s in her late twenties, and looking around at her happily paired-off cousins, she’s starting to yearn to move out of her parents’ house and get a bit more autonomy, though she’s afraid of hurting them. Some of her behavior was seriously juvenile, but as the book went on and she gets a little more honest with herself and others as to why she still sometimes acts like a spoiled brat, I found her a lot less annoying. “You like this boy. And that means something. You don’t let yourself get involved. You are, as Duffy would say, a ‘hit it and quit it’ girl.” “Never let those words leave your mouth again,” Frankie told her. While I liked the romance, it did feel like it wasn’t as prominent in this book – it seems to lean heavier on the women’s fiction scale than the previous book. So while I liked the development of Frankie and Eric’s relationship, I was more ambivalent about the plot revolving around the pranks. It just felt weird that she’s a woman in her late twenties and her big nemesis is a jerky teen boy. I did find the resolution of that plot line pretty hilarious, though, so I guess I can’t complain too much. I especially love the small town feel of these books, and how something as simple as a Trunk-or-Treat turns into a giant to-do complete with months of planning meetings where people with competing opinions nearly come to blows. I also liked that we got to see a bit more of the couple from the first book’s story as it played out alongside Frankie’s. Overall, I’d give this 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. It’s an enjoyable light read, perfect for relaxing lakeside with a glass of sweet tea! I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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