This book is making me very happy! I was looking forward to it, and I’ve written not long ago about second novels sometimes being a little (or more) disappointing because they’re really hard on authors. Dirt Nap escaped that curse beautifully. It has everything I loved in Gallows Humor, only better.
First of all, it is not a standalone and you should definitely start with Gallows Humor. I’ll try not to spoil that one too much – it’s a mystery/romance and both MCs’ names are in the series title so you already know they’re going to end up together, and alive.
Autopsy maestra Corey Curtis is being farmed out to her former mentor, forensic anthropologist Amanda Marsh, to retrieve a decomposing body underneath a house. The crime scene is right on the opposite side of the lake from Dr Thayer Reynolds’ home, where Corey is spending more and more. Corey’s injuries from the fall she took in Gallows Humor (I’m still trying not to spoil, you’re not making it easy, Carolyn Elizabeth…) have left her with debilitating migraines and muscles spams, and the fanciest yellow glasses. She’s so relieved to be rid of the cast on her arm that nothing else really matters right now, except how much she loves Thayer. And then there’s that thing with the corpse I mentioned above.
You know me, Star Wars nerd, so I was already giddy by the second or third page, I was all “Ha! Classic Han Solo move there, Thayer!”, which was confirmed when I turned the page. Carolyn Elizabeth’s sense of humour and love of pop culture work so well for me, it’s like candy.
Everything worked for me here, actually, not just the funny stuff. The thriller was gruesome and thrilling, the romance romantic.
I love that all the most important characters are flawed and make mistakes but they’re all good people (IRL I’d say their heart is in the right place) and that’s why they like one another. I’d like them too, whether it’s Corey, Thayer, Rachel, Collier, Steph (she’s a newcomer, Collier’s partner), Cinnamon (who calls their kid Cinnamon? It seems to suit her though, I wish we’d see more of her), Lilian… I love the unlikely friendship Corey and Collier share, my heart broke for them at some point, but I have hopes for their future. And I love love love Corey and Thayer, as individuals and together.
One of the things that amaze me the most about this book (it was also true for Gallows Humor) is the brilliant way the author mixes romance and the grisly aspects of the mystery side. Honestly, there were paragraphs detailing the state of the corpse found at the beginning of the story that I wish I had not had to read – they were necessary, nothing gratuitous or complacent – so this is not a light read by any means. Yet at the same time, there’s more romance and heartwarming instances (and sexy scenes) than in some romance novels I have read.
This second book confirms Carolyn Elizabeth’s talent, and her third book can’t come soon enough. I’m hopping up and down with impatience already. Lucky for me, I have a huge TBR list to keep me busy in the meantime…