Review: Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes (Rose Gardner Mystery #1) by Denise Grover Swank
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Crooked Lane Books. Thank you!
Expected publication: August 11, 2015 by Crooked Lane Books
Verdict: Good/Very Good
For Rose Gardner, working at the DMV is bad even before she has a vision of herself dead. She’s had plenty of visions, but this one is different. She’s never seen herself before. When her overbearing momma winds up murdered instead of Rose, there’s only one thing that’s certain: Rose is the prime suspect.
With prison looming, Rose realizes she’s wasted her life and makes a list on the back of a Wal-Mart receipt: twenty-eight things she wants to accomplish before everything falls apart. From drinking a glass of wine to doing “more” with a man, Rose is well on her way to committing a good number of the seven deadly sins, with the help of her hot and mysterious neighbor Joe. Joe is new to town, and it doesn’t take a vision for Rose to realize he’s got plenty of dangerous secrets of his own.
Say you’re watching a particularly saucy episode of The Good Wife. It’s a juicy one: full of intrigue, chemistry and friction between main characters, surprise twists, secret dalliances, and a legal hurdle that the lawyers miraculously meet. Picture that, but with the tenor of Hart of Dixie, and you may get something as compulsively readable, sweet and funny as Swank’s Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes.
Balancing multiple murder scenarios, ongoing criminal investigations, physic-like visions, family drama, a protagonist undergoing personal change and growth, and a mysterious and very handsome neighbor, Swank tackles a lot in this first of the Rose Gardner mysteries. But due to the novel’s easy to devour dialogue and story, and likable main characters, it all reads well. Even the romance between Rose and Joe, which is inevitable and anticipated, does not fail to charm. I think a major reason for my eschewing a number of contemporary titles featuring romance and a lot of YA over the last few years has been due to my tiring of foreseeable plot twists and all-too used tropes or character stereotypes. Now, this is not to say that Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes doesn’t have a few issues regarding predictability with respect to the Rose-Joe relationship, Rose’s ‘hidden’ beauty, or how (no spoilers), things work out in the end for Rose. But here’s the thing with Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes: Swank writes a good story. I was totally charmed and eager to keep reading. I was interested, liked the primary and secondary characters and wanted to see this story through to its end.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this title; I don’t know how else to express it, but it was just plain fun. Zippy dialogue, great chemistry between the main characters, smooth writing and a plot that kept up a quick pace- and did I mention an unusual dog riddled with flatulence? Yes indeed, combining murder, bloody crime scenes with a farting dog and steamy scenes can’t be easy, but kudos to Swank for pulling it off! I’m now keen to continue on with this series and see where the author pushes the story and the main characters.
I received this book as a hardcopy from Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.