Family Skeletons

Baker City: Hearts & Haunts - Book 3

Romance - Paranormal
346 Pages
Reviewed on 04/10/2021
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Author Biography

Josie Malone lives and works at her family business, a riding stable in Washington State. Teaching kids to ride and know about horses, she finds in many cases, she's taught three generations of families. Her life experiences span adventures from dealing cards in a casino, attending graduate school to get her Masters in Teaching degree, being a substitute teacher, and serving in the Army Reserve - all leading to her second career as a published author. Visit her at her website, to learn about her books.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite

Family Skeletons is the third book in the Baker City: Hearts & Haunts series by Josie Malone, a compulsive romance that is emotionally loaded and psychologically rich. Sullivan Barlow is a first-class Sergeant who has served in Afghanistan and it was there that she lost her best friend. When she sleeps with a man one night, she doesn’t plan to see him again. Tate Murphy is a career soldier who is due to retire in three years. He is unable to forget the girl he met at the hotel bar and had sex with. Then three weeks after meeting Sully, he meets her again, and this time, he is not going to let her get away as easily as she did the last time. When he discovers that she is pregnant with his baby, he immediately proposes. The ride might not be as smooth as Tate had imagined.

I love complex and memorable characters, and I love it when an author justifies the complexity in their characters, and that is what Josie Malone does. Sully is a broken person, suffering from guilt, which is understandable after losing her closest friend. But then she discovers she is pregnant, everything changes. The descriptions of her emotions and her psychological state when she finds out she is pregnant are so real that I could relate, and the same can be said of every scene in the story. She does not want adoption and is ready to raise her child. But there are twists that I never expected would happen in the story. Family Skeletons is not just tightly-plotted but also written with such elegance that it becomes impossible to put down. The prose is charming, the characters adorable and sophisticated, and the whole story so impregnated with realism that it is so delightful to read. Tate and Sully are interesting to watch as they navigate their differences and confront their inner demons and past hurts. And the dead people they have loved seem to play a strong role in their lives. Now, I am looking for the next book from this author.

K.C. Finn

Family Skeletons is a work of fiction in the paranormal romance sub-genre and serves as the third installment in the Baker City Hearts & Haunts series by author Josie Malone. The story follows Sully Barlow, a Sergeant who has lost her best friend in Afghanistan and who has recently indulged in a one-night stand with a stranger. The stranger is Tate Murphy who is awaiting the day he can retire from the army. When they discover that Sully is pregnant from their night together, they must overcome survivor’s guilt and the otherworldly presence of a friend thought gone in order to plan a brighter future.

Family Skeletons is a paranormal romance that follows Sully and Tate after a one-night stand evolves into so much more, and it really sweeps you away from the very beginning. I particularly enjoyed how original and well-thought-out this novel was. Malone offers a fresh and exciting take on the genre that will keep you gripped from the start. Sully and Tate are both interesting and three-dimensional characters that have undeniable chemistry, making me invest in them immediately. I enjoyed their nuanced relationship that had highs and lows and felt the author did a wonderful job of portraying a very authentic relationship. Author Josie Malone has crafted an immersive story with elements of suspense and uncertainty that takes a look at some serious issues but balances this well with humor and lighter moments. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend this book, especially to fans of paranormal romances with a fresh twist.

Stephanie Chapman

Family Skeletons: Baker City: Hearts & Haunts - Book 3 by Josie Malone is a hauntingly, witty, romance story. Sullivan Rafferty is a stubborn Army Reserve soldier injured physically and emotionally. “Sully” felt responsible for the death of her best friend, Raven, after they were ambushed in Afghanistan. One afternoon, her leg gives out in front of her superiors. Tate Murphy helps her to medical and reveals that he was the airport one-night stand she had had when she returned from battle. The doctor orders her to stay in the barracks for a few days and rest up, but runs a blood test. Tate continues to take Sully on several dates. When she receives the results of her blood tests, Tate and Sully find they are going to spend a lot more time together than they imagined.

I thoroughly enjoyed Family Skeletons. Josie Malone kept the story flow even despite the emotional turmoil. The appearance of Raven's ghost was shocking, and I found it interesting that she was able to manipulate items but could not communicate nor was she seen by anyone. I could easily relate to how Sully felt since she was not able to fully commit to any type of friendship for fear of abandonment. I started to resent Tate's over-controlling as the story continued. There were several times I would have told him to kick rocks, especially when he would become condescending towards his family. All the supporting characters add to the suspense and kept my interest and Josie Malone continues to show personal growth in Sully. Family Skeletons deserves a solid 5-star rating for the uncertainty of what the future holds. I would recommend the book for adult readers that enjoy a paranormal military romance filled with colorful characters and their witty dialogues that make you the proverbial fly on the wall.