Review: NOT QUITE DEAD By Lyla Payne

A broken engagement sends Graciela Harper crawling back to Heron Creek with her tail between her legs, but finds the sleepy little town too changed to set her life right. Not even her budding drinking problem can obscure her Gramps’s failing health, or erase the mental picture of her first love happily married to her childhood best friend. To top it all off, she’s having a heck of time convincing the town’s dashing young mayor of her unfit-for-dating status.

When the ghost of 18th century lady pirate Anne Bonny starts insisting on a near daily audience, Graciela has to confront something else she never expected—being certifiably nuts at twenty-five years old.

Her brand new "I don't give a crap" attitude makes it easy to dismiss the mysterious threats that seem to be tied to her search for more information on the long dead pirate, but when her family becomes a target, Gracie knows she needs to find out why the ghost insists on being a constant, reeking companion.

If Graciela can put aside her prejudice against people without a pulse, she may discover that Anne Bonny’s problems are intricately linked with her own. The past harbors answers could help the cantankerous spirit find closure, but she is, after all, already dead. If Graciela doesn’t move fast, she might find herself doing the haunting, instead of the other way around.
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Review

Having read and enjoyed the Whitman University novels, I was extremely excited about this new series from Lyla Payne. First, I am a huge fan of ghost stories, but the clincher for me was that this book takes place near Charleston, a city I absolutely love.

Graciela has returned to Heron Creek, the place she spent her summers growing up, to care for her ailing grandfather and escape her screwed up life. 

"You sleep more than a drugged bear in the dead of winter, and don't think I can't smell you feeling sorry for yourself all the way down here."
—Gramps

She's depressed and lost, hoping the city and people she once held dear will be able to repair the cracks in her foundation. Her grandfather helps her score a job she's overqualified for, and she also meets and reluctantly befriends the sexy mayor, Beauregard Drayton. Oh, and of course, the ghost of lady pirate, Anne Bonny.
 
"Trust me to pick up a damn ghost when all I wanted was solitude and a proper drinking problem."

Grace is equal parts sad introspection and comedic relief. She's so down on her self at some points, you want to hug her, and so damn snarky at others, you'll want to shake her hand.
Mayor Drayton is just too perfect. I am certain there are skeletons lingering in his closet, but in this book he holds his own against Grace and her petulant ways, all the while offering support. He is sweet and charming and I wanted Graciela to just get over herself and go ahead and start falling in love with him already! 
 
"I mean, people call him the mayor but I've never seen him do anything particularly mayor-ly, unless we count charming his female constituents to within an inch of their lives."

I have to admit, this is my favorite Payne book yet. The story flows so well, and I swear I felt a myriad of emotions right along with our poor Gracie. I could totally relate to her jaded and disillusioned sides as well as the part of her that longed to be whole again. And yes there is a ghost, but the story never feels otherworldly or unbelievable. Without giving too much of the plot away, I will say that nearly everything is explained just enough, and the things that aren't have me already impatiently awaiting the second in the series!!
 

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