The Good Girl, by Christy Barritt (WhiteFire Publishing, 2013)
I wouldn’t have picked this one up based on the title, but as a fan of Christy Barritt’s Squeaky Clean Mystery Series, I know her non-Love-Inspired novels include some off-the-wall-but-lovable characters and more than a splash of humour. The Good Girl does not disappoint.
Tara Lancaster is a 20-something woman who essentially runs away from her Florida home to dog-sit for her sister in Minnesota. Their father is a high-profile preacher, and while her sister inspired his book The Wayward Daughter, Tara has spent her life learning—and living by—”the rules.” She’s not legalistic in a judgmental way, but she’s had this idea that living the “perfect” Christian life will keep her safe, earn approval and blessing, and be the right thing to do. And that if her thoughts don’t always line up with the externals, that’s okay.
Tara had the textbook Christian life and was a role model for her generation, until false allegations stripped away her job and her marriage. Now she’s ashamed, disgraced, and not sure what she thinks about this God who may not even exist.
Hiding out at her sister’s sounds ideal until she arrives to find a menacing note—pinned by a knife—in the kitchen. The house may be haunted, but good Christians don’t believe in ghosts, do they? Or there may be a more human explanation, but that’s still pretty scary. On the plus side, she meets a helpful and charming neighbour, Cooper. And her sister’s friend Candy adopts her for the duration. Candy is the main quirky character in the book, and she’s genuine despite her look-at-me exterior.
Tara’s an over-thinker, wounded and perhaps a bit neurotic, but she makes a good narrator for the story. With all that’s going on in the house to scare her, and with her rebounding from “Good Girl rules” to redefine her life, she doesn’t always make the right choices. But she’s on the way to finding herself and maybe even finding another chance at life, faith and love. If whoever’s trying to scare her to death doesn’t succeed.
Here’s a link to an excerpt from The Good Girl—check out the snappy, first-person writing style. Or visit award-winning suspense and mystery author Christy Barritt’s website to learn more about her series and stand-alone novels. Her newest novel, Home Before Dark, released in April 2013.