The Last Kiss Goodbye (Dr. Charlotte Stone #2) – Karen Robards

Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Stone has dedicated her career as a psychiatrist to exploring the darkest territory of all: the hearts and minds of serial killers. It’s a job she’s uniquely suited for, thanks to the secret talent that gives her an uncanny edge—Charlie can see dead people, whose tormented spirits cry out to her for the justice only she can provide. This blessing—or curse—gives Charlie the power to hunt down and catch madmen and murderers. It’s also turned her love life upside down by drawing her into a hopelessly passionate relationship with the lingering ghost of charismatic bad boy Michael Garland.

TLKGI love Michael Garland, but Dr. Charlie Stone? Not so much. It is as I suspected when reading The Last Victim, and reading The Last Kiss Goodbye confirmed what I now know for a fact, Charlie has the intelligence of a titmouse. It pains me, but it had to be said, for a PhD educated woman to be such a twit is incomprehensible to me. The fact that she could doubt what was screamingly apparent, what had been pointed out to her repeatedly by word and further by action was beyond frustrating. I know, I know, without conflict there would be no story but the unending mental tirade of “Oh, how can I believe him when he’s a serial killer?” coupled with imaginary hand wringing was more than a bit tiresome.

As her glance found him, and their eyes held for the briefest of seconds, she immediately felt calmer, more centered. She recognized the ridiculousness of it : how screwed up was her world when the ghost of Michael Garland served as a grounding presence? That’s when Charlie remembered he might be – might be – the exact same kind of monster as the one  they were hunting.

Truly you would think that there would be conflict a plenty in having unresolved feelings for a dead man without the frequent mental soliloquies about his guilt or lack thereof. Coupled with her idiotic belief that she could somehow transfer her feelings for Michael to Tony truly made me want to smack her.

There was a phrase from a song her mother used to listen to: love the one you’re with.

She liked Tony a whole lot. She found him attractive, sexy. His kisses turned her on.

Tony she could kiss. Tony she could have sex with. Tony she could even, eventually, if things worked out, make a life with.

Stupid she wasn’t. She knew enough to choose the possible over the impossible.

Following Michael’s apparent sacrifice of himself or at least his manifestation on this earthly plane at the conclusion of The Last Victim it seemed that Charlie’s relationship with the ghost of convicted serial killer Michael Garland was at an end leaving the path clear for FBI agent Anthony Bartoli. The ideal is short lived though Michael reappears with difficulty, the pull of purgatory aka Spookville is almost impossible to resist and almost simultaneously a desperate woman, dirty and bleeding shows up at Charlie’s door. It soon becomes apparent that another serial killer is at work and his attention has been drawn to Charlie necessitating a reunion with the task-force she worked with when hunting the Boardwalk Killer.

Excerpt (The Last Kiss Goodbye) –

Cover of "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir"
Cover of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

My annoyance with Dr. Stone aside, don’t mistake me, I still enjoyed The Last Kiss Goodbye greatly. It wasn’t until recently that I figured out why, what with all the angst I seemed to be experiencing, I am a sucker for impossible romances one of my favorites being The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, I believe the title sums it up. Many of you wouldn’t be familiar with the novel by R.A. Dick or the 1947 feature film starring Rex Harrison and the beautiful Gene Tierney but it was required viewing according to my mother, which believe me, was no sacrifice. Like Charlie, Lucy Muir finds herself afflicted with a difficult male ghost. If you possess even a single romantic bone in your body you won’t be able to resist this classic film.

In 1900, strong-willed widow Lucy Muir goes to live in Gull Cottage by the British seaside, even though it appears to be haunted. Sure enough, that very night she meets the ghost of crusty former owner Captain Gregg…and refuses to be scared off. Indeed, they become friends and allies, after Lucy gets used to the idea of a man’s ghost haunting her bedroom. But when a charming live man comes courting, Lucy and the captain must deal with their feelings for each other.

The Last Kiss Goodbye is a more than credible thriller and at least in my opinion, a suitably complex mystery with a truly gripping climax. The exchanges between Michael and Charlie are in equal parts entertaining and frustrating, Karen Robards has proven her mettle yet again and I am looking forward to her next offering, Hunted coming up in December.

AUTHOR: Karen Robards

RATING: 4  Stars

GENRE: Romantic Suspense


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