by Emma Hart
Book 4, Holly Wood Files
Holly Woods is going to hell in a handbasket—but this time, Satanists aren’t to blame. Halloween is.
Nonna doesn’t understand why there are skeletons and demons everywhere. Mom is threatening to stitch a devil into Nonna’s pillowcase if she doesn’t shut up. Bek is bumbling over a date with Jason, the handsome FBI agent who conveniently got himself relocated to Austin, and I… Well. I’m considering running away to a town without the crazies.
Nothing new here.
Everything is going smoothly—too smoothly—and I can’t shake the feeling that something is about to happen. Drake insists I’m being paranoid… But when a body turns up at the Holly Woods Halloween party, we have a whole lot more than a murderer to worry about.
Because the prime suspect is his mom.
And it’s my job to prove she’s innocent.
The Holly Wood Files series reminds me of the first time I tried truffles. The first few bites were amazing, the best thing I ever tasted. The last few bites, I could barely finish. It was simply too rich, too much of a good thing. I hit that saturation point in the last book. Noelle was getting on my one last nerve with her cupcake eating and her TSTL antics. But I love Noelle when she is with Drake. I love how they feed off each other. I also love Noelle’s family. Their interactions are no-holds-bar and on more than one occasion they have been the source of some serious snorting.
I confess I didn’t like the beginning of this book. Everything that bugs me about Noelle is upfront and in my face and I cringe each time I heard her mention cupcakes, yoga pants, and coffee. It’s just too much. Too many indulgences. I want my heroines to have a little more discipline than having to run out for cupcakes every time she runs into an obstacle. But ultimately, I am thrilled that I finished this story, for just when I thought I couldn’t take any more, I had a snort-water-through-your-nose belly laugh moment. Just two words: cars and condiments. This interaction at the car dealership loosened up the screws for me and made me realize why I love this series. The banter is fun. Whether it is with her boyfriend, Drake, her grandmother, Nonna, her bestfriend, Beks, or any other her brothers, the wit is infectious. Okay, sometimes if is sophomoric, but still in a fun-loving way. This is where Emma Hart shines in her writing.
The other upshot is again Noelle and Drake. Drake has more voice in this book. Noelle is such a wild character sometimes she overshadows Drake. Here, he has more presence in the relationship and we get to really know how he feels about Noelle. It is absolutely dreamy.
If I could change one thing about Noelle, I would ask Ms. Hart to consider giving Noelle a little more confidence. She is constantly complaining that she gets little respect, especially from her brothers, but then she second-guesses herself on every occasion. I understand that it is a show of vulnerability, but in this book, the scale is constantly tipped toward self-doubt and find myself yelling at her to get a grip.
Again, the secondary characters really shine in this book. Over the top Nonna is a real standout. I did want to see more of Noelle’s brothers, but we already have a crowded field of characters and since there is more of Drake, I can wait until the next book to get more of Brody, Devon, and Trent.
“Kellie! You put-a that-a devil-a down!”
“It’s not a devil, Liliana. It’s a demon. Once that will find its way into your bedroom if you don’t get. Off. Of. It!”
I fold my arms across my chest and lean against the front door. Have you ever seen an elderly Italian woman and a fifty-something year old woman playing tug of war with a decorative demon? No?
“I do not-a care! It is-a not-a going on-a my-a house-a!”
“It’s my house!” Mom yells. “You haven’t paid rent for ten years!”
My eyes widen. Oh boy. Here we go.
“I no need-a pay-a rent! I cook-a, I clean-a! That-a is-a my rent!”
“You clean the kitchen, you crazy old lady!”
Nonna gasps, her hand flying to her chest in dramatic horror. “I am-a not-a crazy!”
“You’re so crazy you’re lucky you’re not in a home!”
“Noella!” Nonna spins, pointing a wrinkled finger in my direction. “Am-a I crazy?”
Way to put a girl on the spot, Nonna. “Well…” I say the word slowly. “Crazy is a strong word…”
“But then again, so is normal.”
“What? You asked, I answered.”
She sniffs and pulls her light wrap around her shoulders. “Why-a you-a here? Don’t you-a have-a to feed-a your man?”
“No. He’s working.”
“Ah-ha! I will-a call-a Drake and report this… This-a merda!”
Mom staggers back, her jaw dropped. “Liliana! That language is not appropriate!”
“Neither is-a your-a demons!” Nonna finally manages to wrench the demon away from Mom and waves it enthusiastically. “Pah!”
Then, to Mom’s undisguised horror, she throws it onto the ground. My eyebrows shoot up, and I step to the side as Nonna storms toward me. Well, as quickly as an old woman with a cane can storm, that is.
“Liliana! You pick that up right now!”
“No! I call-a the police-a!” Nonna frowns and waves her cane in Mom’s direction. “You-a disturb-a the peace!” She turns and shuffles into the house.
“She’s not actually going to… Never mind,” I say, hearing her yell down the phone. Yep, she’s actually calling the police station.
That’s a new one, even for the Bonds.
“She’s crazy!” Mom’s face is bright red as she bends forward to pick up the demon Nonna defiled with dirt. “She needs putting in a home!”
“You’d need to get her sedated before you try that.” I straighten a pumpkin Nonna apparently knocked over. “Just put the demons somewhere she can’t see them and then the problem is solved.”
“Oh yes?” Mom raises her eyebrows then pulls out a giant cloaked figure. “What do I do with Lucifer?”
I stare at the five-foot tall devil decoration that usually spends the holiday hanging on the tree at the bottom of the yard. Its motion-sensor makes it moan every time you walk past it, and the long robes are forever getting caught on the bush beneath the tree. “Mom, you might give her a heart attack if you hang him this year.”
By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to two beautiful little monsters. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of whatever she fancies - usually wine - and writes books.
Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.
She likes to be busy - unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.
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