Publication Date: 12 June 2018
“Frankie McCready talks to dead people. Not like a ghost whisperer or anything—but it seems rude to embalm them and not at least say hello.
Fortunately, at the McCready Family Funeral Home & Bait Shop, Frankie’s eccentricities fit right in. Lake Sackett’s embalmer and county coroner, Frankie’s goth styling and passion for nerd culture mean she’s not your typical Southern girl, but the McCreadys are hardly your typical Southern family. Led by Great-Aunt Tootie, the gambling, boozing, dog-collecting matriarch of the family, everyone looks out for one another—which usually means getting up in everyone else’s business.
Maybe that’s why Frankie is so fascinated by new sheriff Eric Linden…a recent transplant from Atlanta, he sees a homicide in every hunting accident or boat crash, which seems a little paranoid for this sleepy tourist town. What’s he so worried about? And what kind of cop can get a job with the Atlanta PD but can’t stand to look at a dead body?
Frankie has other questions that need answering first—namely, who’s behind the recent break-in attempts at the funeral home, and how can she stop them? This one really does seem like a job for the sheriff—and as Frankie and Eric do their best Scooby-Doo impressions to catch their man, they get closer to spilling some secrets they thought were buried forever.”
My Thoughts: As the second novel and fourth book in the Southern Eclectic series, there is not much that is a surprise with Ain’t She a Peach. It is as charming as the other novels and novellas in the series with the same quirky family members and town politics that fans have come to love. This time around, we finally get Frankie’s story with its darker history, unusual professional career choice, and eccentricities, alongside her potential love interest with his own mysterious past.
One of the reasons I love Ms. Harper’s novels so much is how she portrays relationships. They are so much fun. These are friends with no secrets and no shame between them. In Frankie’s case, they are her family members, which I find even more exceptional. The banter between them is highly entertaining, but moreover I love how each and every one of Frankie’s family will defend her or the rest of the family with its life. Perhaps I enjoy this because it is so different from my own experiences with either friends or family, but I find their interactions not just amusing but also hopeful. Too many people I know have strained relationships with at least one family member, and I know too many introverts like myself struggling for adult friendships that are meaningful. If Ms. Harper’s characters can find either one, there is hope for us all.”
Another element of Ms. Harper’s novels I enjoy is the fact that no matter how silly or simple the stories are, there is always some element of character development to her stories. Sometimes it is becoming more self-aware, sometimes it is letting go of old ideas, and sometimes it is taking a stand. At no time is the development forced. It occurs naturally through the action and dialogue within the novel. In addition, not only does this make the characters much more likeable, it makes them more realistic as well. These are not glamorous characters with no major faults. These are characters who are just like you and me, with money problems and jobs that force them to make tough decisions and keep them busy.
Ms. Harper’s stories are meant to lighten your heart, entertain your mind, and provide food for thought. Ain’t She a Peach does just that with the McCready clan and Frankie’s growing maturity. Even better, Frankie’s position as embalmer and coroner allows Ms. Harper to explore the trappings of death in a manner that is not macabre or disrespectful. The overall effect is a novel that exudes southern charm without any pandering or gross stereotypes. If you have not yet read anything by Ms. Harper, I strongly encourage you to do so. They are a balm to my soul in these trying times, something I know we all could use.