Sunday, April 1, 2012

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

From 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.
My Thoughts: I absolutely loved this book. It was a fast and fun read and it may be because I was born in Texas and have a connection to the culture there, but the characters in the book were positively jumping off the page. 
Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore is a stand alone (as far as my research tells me) novel that is centered around two sisters who are watching their Aunt’s ranch while she’s on vacation for the summer. The point of view is first person and is told from the perspective of Amy Goodnight, the younger sister of Phin Goodnight. 
Amy’s character is quirky but smart and she has a good-dose of independence that she gets from always playing referee between her Goodnight family and the rest of the world. Amy isn’t ashamed that her family is made up of witches, psychics, ghost-talkers, and the like, but she doesn’t have to completely validate all the rumors that surround her cooky family either. She takes on a protective role-especially when it comes to her sister Phin-when any outsiders start to poke fun or point fingers at her family. She always has a quick laugh-off explanation to why strange things happen around them and usually that is enough to keep the rumors to a minimum, but after there are ghosts seen at the ranch, bones being unearthed at the neighboring property, and a new set of incidents everyone wants to blame her family for, her usual tactics aren’t cutting it. 
The ways in which Amy handles each new incident add to her character’s strength. Also the interaction between her and her sister Phin is an excellent way of building character, for both of them. Amy loves her sister-who is a beautiful genius who could care less about what anyone thinks of her-and yet she gets under her skin at the same time. The dialogue between the two is solid and real-a fast banter that is relevant to anyone whose had a sister. The relationship is authentic and fresh and had me laughing at times and fearful for them at others.
In between their efforts to solve a wickedly creepy ghost story, the girls meet sexy cowboy Ben who happens to live on the property next to their Aunt’s ranch and isn’t too happy about the rumors of a ghost roaming their land and hitting people over the head. He blames Amy and her family of course, but when construction crews end up digging up bones on his land, he starts to wonder if the stories are true. 
Who doesn’t love a sexy cowboy and an unorthodox girl romance? Between yelling at each other for their opposed beliefs, Ben and Amy grow closer and soon a relationship blossoms. The wonderful thing that Clement-Moore did with this relationship though is that it isn’t run of the mill. They aren’t soul-mates, they aren’t perfect for each other, and they aren’t pining for each other’s presence every time they are apart. It’s a real young-adult love relationship, filled with heated arguments, hot tension, sweet anticipation, and dependable rescues on both sides. I routed for them because they had such fire in their dialogue and action that it was impossible not to want them to end up together. But it was a fresh change of pace that Ben’s character wasn’t a love-sick stalker-type and that Amy wasn’t a damsel in distress. Amy took care of herself-of course she needed help at certain times, but she didn’t want to admit that. It made her character and his more likable and believable. 
The descriptions of Texas are on point and made me miss home in many ways. Clement-Moore nailed the language and culture aspect of the state as well. The ghost story and mystery elements within the novel are a great driving force and super creepy at times-especially if you are reading alone at night in certain chapters! 
Texas Gothic didn’t disappoint-in fact it was a refreshing authentic tale-full of family, real-life teen romance, and secrets that raise chills. I would recommend this book to anyone who is in need of a switch from the common soul-mates romance or anyone who is looking for a good mystery/ghost story to unravel.