Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tea & Read: Beguiled

Title: Beguiled
Author(s): Deeanne Gist, J. Mark Bertrand
Rating: Two cups of tea

Blurb: Rylee Monroe, a dogwalker in Charleston's wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a thief is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her. Reporter Logan Woods is covering the break-ins with the hope of publishing them as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything. As danger draws ever closer, Logan must choose: Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens everything?

I’ve read several of Deeanne Gist’s books and I must admit I was a little nervous about this one. Each book seemed to slide downward on my enjoyment scale. A Bride Most Begrudging stole my heart, but Courting Trouble made me angry. One thing to Beguiled advantage was that it had a co-author, J. Mark Bertrand. I am glad to report that Beguiled has put Gist back in my good graces again and put Bertrand on my list of writers to watch.

The first thing that hooked me in this book was the characters. In previous books, Gist’s characters were always well rounded, even though their actions seemed a bit inconsistent. Not in this story. Rylee’s girl-next-door wins you over before the end of the first chapter, but she has just enough spunk to make her stand out from other “sweet” characters. Logan is a man’s man, but with a tender side and a very amusing phobia.

Second, Gist and Bertrand manage to create a good solid mystery. Normally, I have a pretty good idea of who the bad guy is by the end. But this time, I must say I was a little surprised when the villain was finally revealed, and not in a bad way. I also loved the villain’s motivation for what he was doing. It was the perfect balance of credibility and wickedness needed for a bad guy.

The only issue I had with the book was the setting, and I admit, I’m being a little nitpicky because I’m a writer. The authors never said where Charleston was (there’s one in West Virginia and South Carolina), although I got the feeling it was in SC. Whether Charleston, SC or not, Gist and Bertrand nailed the feel of old southern money.

Great book. I would be willing to read another book from the Gist/Bertrand team.

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