StarDust Press, $4.48, ISBN 978-981-05-8441-2
Paranormal Erotica, 2007
Our perfumer heroine Jessica Halston isn’t the happiest person around at the start of Haunted in Hawaii because she’s stuck in a research trip to a mysterious location (guess where, people) with that creepy jerk Travis Ferguson who can’t keep his hands to himself and is also unfortunately her superior in this trip. Parvana Cosmetics want her to get “the essence of Hawaii” and design a perfume out of this trip so she’ll do it and get the whole thing over with as soon as possible. She soon finds herself entranced with locals and expatriates who share with her stories of miracle healing and other mystical elements of Hawaii, and she becomes even more entranced with Dr Jet Atwood, an anthropologist who happens to know quite a lot about Hawaiian legends and folklore. But something happens and turns poor Jessica’s happy vacation into some B-horror movie thing where she starts seeing ghosts and screaming her off. How hilarious, er, how sad.
I like the fact that Jessica is a smart heroine who has ambitions and brainpower and Hawaii in this story is simply divine. I feel like I have to visit that place after reading this story. However, the romance is nowhere as good as the travelogue. This is another case of a couple falling into bed too fast and too soon without allowing me any insight as to how these two could ever be in love. The relationship is more lust than love to me. Jet is also a pretty flat hero – he comes off as a seriously humorless zealot whose saving grace is his apparently amazing abilities in bed. Again, I don’t really see the love in this book. In fact, it’s odd that the hero is not in the picture when the heroine’s in trouble – a helpful secondary character takes his place. I’m not saying that the hero must save the heroine here; it’s just odd that when the heroine needs help, the hero is nowhere to be seen. Jet shows up only when he wants to get into Jessica’s pants. Again, this is not exactly helping me see the love.
The story is also disappointing because it relies too much on two stereotypical designated villains to create conflicts. Travis is a complete creep to the point of coming off like Johnny Bravo’s evil twin brother while the Jealous Other Woman doesn’t help in making the story less of a Scooby-Doo romp.
Haunted in Hawaii would be so much better if there is some build-up in the relationship between Jessica and Jet instead of those two hopping so quickly into bed. Characterization is lacking especially on Jet’s part. I also really wish that the villains aren’t such cartoon characters. As it is, I’m hard-pressed to view this book as anything more than, say, what happens when Velma visits Hawaii and falls into lust in a very special adult version of a Scooby-Doo episode.