I’ve been giving a lot of attention to NetGalley (for good reason!) of late, but I have also receive ARCs from Book Sirens. My latest read is Marked for Harvest by Melissa Kendall. Thanks to Book Sirens for the advanced copy!

Elena Cain is haunted by her past - as well as ghosts that present as living tattoos. When the creature that is hunting her picks up on her trail, she flees to her childhood home to get it ready to sell for money to continue running. What she finds, however, is her childhood best friend Chloe face down in the pool. Accused of following in her murderous mother’s footsteps, Elena teams up with an old flame (and Chloe’s brother) Sebastian Castillo to find the real murderer. As their investigation continues, the flame between them starts to rekindle.

This book had a lot of promise with elements of the paranormal, romance and spice, and murder mystery. The paranormal elements were intriguing and had a lot of potential, but I felt fell a little flat in execution. It was hard for me to really understand the rules of the universe and it’s never thoroughly explained, though there is a lot of “showing” of what it looks like.

The spice level of this book fell into a weird medium place that didn’t quite hit me in the right way, but it was well written and accomplished what it was meant to. It felt a bit odd for there to be sex scenes in a book that was about solving a murder (and keep from getting murdered), but that discrepancy was easy to overlook due to how well they were written. I do think, however, that they would have been more impactful as fade to black scenes in order to not take the reader out of the mood of a murder investigation.

The relationships between character depended a lot on their shared history that isn't really presented on the page, which made it hard to really feel connected to them. Along the same lines, the characters outside of Elena and Sebastian didn't really feel completely fleshed out which made it hard to relate to them and understand their motivations.

Everything happens very quickly, but I never really felt any sense of urgency or high stakes. Elena has a lot of moments where she needs to figure out what is going on, where she’s worried about the creature finding her, and these are moments where I should have been clutching at my chest and wondering how she was going to get through it, but I never felt that.

Overall, I didn’t dislike this book. It was just…a thing I read. It was quick to get through and a good, short escape from the real world. The writing itself was excellent and incredibly polished. I probably wouldn't choose to re-read this book, but I'd be interested in seeing what comes next from the author.

Marked for Harvest by Melissa Kendall is available for preorder now and hits shelves on November 30, 2022.