Spirited, by Mary Behre (review)

August 1, 2014 Book Reviews 14 ★★★★

Spirited, by Mary Behre (review)Spirited by Mary Behre
Series: Tidewater #1
Published by Berkley on March 4, 2014
Genres: Paranormal mystery, Paranormal romantic suspense
Pages: 311
Format: Paperback
Source: purchased
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Also in this series: Guarded, Harmonized, Energized
Also by this author: Guarded, Harmonized, Energized

She’s running from who she is…...

All Jules Scott wants is to live a normal, quiet life—preferably one that doesn’t include ghosts. Jules’s talent for communicating with the dead has brought her nothing but trouble. Despite her best efforts, needy spirits always find her and draw her into their otherworldly drama. When one implicates her in a series of deadly crimes, she may need to entrust her secrets to the person least likely to believe her.…

He’ll do whatever it takes to catch her.

Detective Seth English can’t get distracted from the big case he’s working on, not even by his alluring new neighbor. He doesn’t believe that Jules had anything to do with the string of robberies-turned-murders that he’s investigating, but when she keeps showing up in all the wrong places, his gut tells him she knows more than she’s letting on. To solve his case, he’ll need to expose what the sexy redhead is hiding—no matter how impossible the truth may be…


Spirited lives up to its name: it’s exciting, suspenseful and hot! The book is the first in a new series by debut author Mary Behre. The series features heroines with a variety of psychic gifts (or curses, depending on their viewpoint), the guys who fall for them (so far, both cops), and the dangerous mysteries they get themselves mixed up in.

Spirited gets off to a good start with a woman breaking into an apartment by going through an open window. Turns out it’s a cop’s bedroom window, and the woman is dressed like a lady of the evening. The scene that ensues veers between tension and humor (and a heavy dose of attraction.)

She looked at him again, this time skating her gaze past his naked chest and sexy arms and moving down.
Oh, it couldn’t be. 
She blinked, astonished.
He wore bright yellow pajama pants, covered in lambs.

I have to say, that image just cracked me up!

Of course, Jules isn’t what Seth mistakes her for, but once they get past that initial misunderstanding, she keeps turning up in connection with Seth’s most recent case, a string of jewel thefts that ended in murder. And it doesn’t help that she’s getting cryptic messages from one of the murder victims – something she can’t share with Seth. Jules has good reasons to be wary of telling anyone about her ability to speak with spirits, especially a policeman. And police rules aside, Seth has his own reasons for not wanting to get involved with a witness. Neither of them completely trusts the other, not for a while, but the attraction between them just keeps getting stronger. (Boy, does it!)

I liked both of them; they’re both interesting, flawed, but fundamentally good people. Jules is feisty and independent, which you might guess from her red hair, but she also has the good sense to be afraid when it’s warranted. Her back story made want to hug her; she had a tough childhood. Seth is protective and dedicated, a cop to his bones. A mistake cost him his advancement five years ago, and he’s determined to work his way back. If he and his partner can solve this case, he’ll get another shot at the sergeant test.

The suspense keeps building as the clues and the body count increase. . . and it starts to look as though Jules herself is in danger. Behre does a good job with ratcheting up the tension, then diffusing it slightly with a humorous scene or moment before taking it to the next level. Her writing is descriptive but not annoyingly so; the fictional city of Tidewater (based on the Tidewater region of Virginia) feels realistically urban, right down to the stink of the Dumpster. I’m no expert on American police, but the details of the cops’ interactions and their investigative methods ring true as well (Seth’s increasing involvement with a witness notwithstanding.)  There’s a bit more profanity than I’m normally comfortable with, but again, it’s realistic, particularly from the policemen.

Behre kept me guessing for a long time as to who the murderer was, as well as why one of the victims kept demanding Jules’s help. The climactic scenes race from heartbreak to mortal danger and kept me turning the pages until much too late at night. The mystery is a little convoluted here and there, but on the whole it holds together well. And the overall pace is fast and action-packed, but not rushed.

Knowing this is the first in a series, I also enjoyed the secondary characters that I suspect will recur. Seth’s partner Dev Jones is handsome, huge, and just plain nice. Younger than Seth, he’s also well-connected socially — and has cousins who run a private security/investigation firm. (I think we’re going to see more of them, too.) Diana is a homeschooled teen who works at the florist shop with Jules. She dresses like a Goth when she’s out of her mother’s sight, uses acronyms like WTF and BRB in her speech, and has a crush on Dev. And Jules’s adoptive parents, Big Jim and April, are just great. I’m hoping we’ll see them again. We’ll also be seeing Jules’s sisters, lost when the three girls were put into foster care after their mother dies — once Dev’s cousins locate them, that is.

There were only a few things that didn’t quite work for me. One facet of the final resolution (involving one of Jules’s ghosts) seems a little convenient, too tied-in-a-bow given the gravity of what happens. (I’m trying to avoid spoilers here!) The sensual scenes are pretty steamy, but they don’t take over the plot, which I always appreciate. However, they’re described in blunter language than I prefer. But that’s just me; many readers will have no problem with it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I’m looking forward to the sequel, which comes out next week!  If you like your romantic suspense sexy and a little gritty, flavored with humor and a psychic twist, give Spirited a try!

Full disclosure here: Mary Behre is a neighbor of sorts, although I didn’t know it until I heard her speak at the local library before her first book came out. I can honestly say that our brief acquaintance has nothing to to with my reaction to her books. . . and also that she is delightful to meet in person: vivacious, enthusiastic, straight-talking, and funny.



About Mary Behre

Mary Behre could never decide which kind of story she liked more, paranormal, mysteries or romances. So it only made sense that she combined all three in her books. Her debut novel, SPIRITED, is the first in the Tidewater Series. Stories with humor suspense and a psychic love-connection. When not writing in her closet/office, she can be found hanging out with the most important men her life, her family.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • COYER Summer Vacation 2014

14 Responses to “Spirited, by Mary Behre (review)”

  1. Bea

    I think I’d like this, adding it to my wishlist too. Evil bookpusher!

    I have a weakness for romantic mysteries with a paranormal edge. I’ve loved Kay Hooper’s series for years; maybe this will become a favorite too.

  2. Katherine P

    I’ve been reading a lot more paranormal lately and this sounds really fun. And seriously pajama pants covered in lambs?? How could I pass that up?

  3. Rita_h

    Okay, you have me with this review. Added to wishlist.
    Short off-topic rant inserted here (not about this book!):
    I don’t like steamy romances, only romantic suspense. After we are acquainted with a new couple’s “behind the doors” physicality, I get bored with the same gymnastics mentioned over and over, example: Sandra Brown, whose stories I otherwise enjoy.

    Makes me sound like a prude–which I am not– but I defend my stance to have a story with romance that doesn’t slow down the plot with constant sex. I may be in the minority of most middle-aged female readers I know, but to each his own 🙂 Thanks for a good review.
    ( By the way, in my first young-aged marriage I lived in the Tidewater, VA area for a few years)

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      You shouldn’t have a problem with this one, Rita. There’s a lot of attraction and smoldering, but I think only one bedroom scene. These are definitely romantic-suspense with the emphasis on suspense.

  4. Berls

    Sounds fantastic Lark! I love that image of him in his yellow pjs with lambs LOL. I love that you weren’t able to solve the mystery easily and I totally love it when there’s romantic tension amplified by the characters not fully trusting each other. Added to my tbr. Another fantastic review Lark 🙂

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I think you’ll have fun with these, Berls! I really liked both of them. And while there’s plenty of suspense and tension, there’s a healthy helping of humor here and there as well.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I really liked book two as well! Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply – somehow I missed that I hadn’t replied to the comments on this post. Glad you enjoyed the books and can’t wait for number three!