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Review: Texas Gothic

July 12, 2011

Title: Texas Gothic
Author: Rosemary Clement-Moore
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 406
Release Date: July 12, 2011

Amy Goodnight’s family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.—Goodreads

I’m not sure about y’all, but when I think of Texas, the first thing I think about (other than the Longhorns and the fact that the people of the state don’t want you to mess with it) is the heat. The oppressive, sticky, strangling heat that you can’t shake no matter what you do. This book radiates that sort of heat—and I’m not referring to how Ms. Clement-Moore describes the weather. 

What the Goodreads summary up there doesn’t tell you is that the bodies that are discovered are found when a construction team goes to build a bridge, and uncovers skeletons that are hundreds of years old on the property belonging to the McCullochs, who live next to the Goodnight ranch. When Amy (Amaryllis) and her sister, Phin (Delphinium), find out about the excavation, and are invited to the site by the excavation team from UT, they find themselves involved in not only an anthropological study, but in the midst of a small town ghost story as well. 

But that’s not all. There’s also the hot neighbor cowboy. (I know better than to think he escaped your notice in the description.)

The chemistry between Amy and the hot (guitar playing!) neighbor cowboy, Ben, is electric. It’s the kind of connection that’s so intense it constantly borders between being charmed and being annoyed, and trying to decide if you’re in love or in hate. It’s definitely not instalove, but is a slowly evolving spark that ignites and races toward the end of the fuse—and when that fuse starts to run out, lemme just tell you, it is four pages of juicy goodness. 

But Amy and Ben aren’t the only ones with chemistry. There’s also the relationship between Amy and her sister Phin, who is basically Temperance Brennan, if Temperance Brennan believed in magic. Amy and Phin are the kind of sisters who seemingly don’t get along, but are actually best friends. As much as they annoy one another, they are always there for each other and will never waiver on that. I guess because I have such a good relationship with my sister, I really like when siblings in books aren’t rivals. (Although that can be fun, too.) But I really loved Amy and Phin, and really wanted to kind of hang out with them in their kooky world full of magic and ghosts. 

Clement-Moore does a great job capturing the feeling of a Southern small town full of superstition, generations-old rivalries, greed, prejudice, and a good ghost story. Her characters are the kind you wish you could pull out of the book and befriend, even if it means that they come with a bit of red dirt and limestone caked in the soles of their shoes and bring a ghost or two along with ’em. 

Overall, Texas Gothic is a lotta bit Nancy Drew with a dash of Veronica Mars (if she were Southern) thrown in for good, cynical measure. It’s a fun, engrossing story, with a narrator who is laugh-out-loud funny and entirely lovable. And I’m not lying about the four pages of juiciness. Hell, this book is worth reading for just THAT. 😉

P.S.: I really, really, REALLY would love to see some sort of crazy short story or something where Emerson from Hourglass and Amy somehow hang out and/or work together. I’m not sure exactly how that would work, but I think it would work WELL. 

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