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“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of god, tell a joke.” —Joss Whedon

With Comedy Book Week upon us, I’ve been thinking about humor. We writers do our jobs and we think up characters and plug plot holes and put the people we love (and especially the ones we don’t) into our books. And then comes the hard part. We have to add the entertainment. Every writer does it in a different way, but for this week at least, we’re celebrating the ones who do it with humor. As Jack Lemmon once said, “It’s hard enough to write a good drama, it’s much harder to write a good comedy, and it’s hardest of all to write a drama with comedy. Which is what life is.”

bottom half2One of my favorite genres is paranormal romance, which already has its own tropes, making it a challenge to mix in humor while remaining faithful to the genre’s defining elements:

  1. Boy and Girl meet cute. If this is YA paranormal, he’s a bad boy. If it’s straight-up paranormal romance, he’s a bad boy who is hungry. If it’s paranormal erotica, his bad boy is the biggest (at least under a full moon).
  2. Girl has an Issue (or maybe a Goal). She’s worried (you can tell by the way she flicks her hair). If it’s YA, her hair is red and her eyes are green. If it’s erotica, it’s not her hair she’s flicking or her eyes she’s flashing.
  3. Boy has a Goal (or maybe an Issue). He’s angry. If it’s YA paranormal, his hair hangs down over his eyes. If it’s paranormal romance, you can tell he has issues by the way he ties his long hair back, which really annoys her because she wants it to be left loose so she can run her fingers through it. Not that she would. Because she’s got a…you know. Issue. Yeah, that’s it.
  4. By page 59, chests are involved. If this is YA, they will have a Moment. If it’s adult, they’ll share a smoldering kiss. If it’s erotica, one or both will be tied up, probably with magically-warded silver restraints.
  5. Because of their Obstacle, Girl rebuffs Boy. If this is YA, she won’t kiss him again. [You can take it from there…]
  6. Boy gives up and watches sports with his buds. Girl eats Ben & Jerry’s with her besties.
  7. Girl and Boy realize they can overcome their Obstacle. They have sex (or, if this is YA Inspirational, a church wedding). If it’s a paranormal romance, they have a bite. If it’s erotica, they pretty much keep on doing whatever they’ve been doing since page 59.
  8. Happily Ever After: They live HEA or at least HFN (Happy For Now). If it’s YA, she puts on his leather jacket. If it’s erotica, they exchange keys to the cuffs.


And the best part is this actually works. Through countless iterations, substitutions, shades, and the occasional glittery hoo-ha and/or vampire, paranormal romance stories are fun, satisfying, and endlessly varied.

Today’s guest for Comedy Book Week, Ani Gonzalez, goes one step beyond the standard genre steps by adding humor. Not only does her Banshee Creek series have great characters and writing, but it’s laugh out loud funny too. And best of all? It’s just the first book in a series that already has three more just waiting for me.

I love quirky towns with spooky stories, and, thanks to my books, I get to "live" in one year-around. In real life I live in a Minneapolis suburb (which is sadly lacking in ghosts) with my husband and three children and I'm still trying to adjust to the cold.

I love quirky towns with spooky stories, and, thanks to my books, I get to “live” in one year-around. In real life I live in a Minneapolis suburb (which is sadly lacking in ghosts) with my husband and three children and I’m still trying to adjust to the cold.

As Ani Gonzalez explains it,

“I write sexy paranormal romantic comedy (whew, that’s a mouthful!) set in Banshee Creek, Virginia, The Most Haunted Town in the USA. My books feature feisty funny heroines dealing with a host of paranormal critters (ghosts, cryptids, pagan gods…the sky’s the limit).”





Must Love Ghosts by Ani Gonzalez

A fun, humorous romance…with ghosts! 

Abby Reed believes in faery tales, and ghosts, but she doesn’t believe in love. She lost her soulmate when her fiancé died while deployed in Afghanistan, but she still has her music, her crazy spectre-filled town, and her pen-pal-slash-best-friend, Mike Stone. It’s a good life and she’s happy, but when handsome Mike arrives in Banshee Creek after his last tour of duty in Afghanistan, Abby starts to have doubts, about music, ghosts and, most importantly…love. 

Like a good soldier, Mike Stone follows the rules, and Rule #1 is: Don’t Fall For Your Buddy’s Fiancée. His relationship with Abby has been strictly platonic, and will remain that way, if he has anything to say about it. But when he arrives in Banshee Creek, a town where the impossible is an everyday occurrence, he’ll find out that sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

4 gold starMy Review: 4 stars out of 5

Soldier Mike Stone has just one job. It’s been hanging over his head for three years, ever since his best friend was killed as they served together in Afghanistan. Now Mike is supposed to deliver an important package to his friend’s bereaved fiancée, Abby Reed, and then get out of Banshee Creek. But getting out proves to be much harder than he ever expects.

One of the things I liked about Mike is that even though he doesn’t have a clue what’s going on at almost any point in the book, he rolls with each new Banshee Creek punch. From the beginning, Mike knows that he envies his friend for having the three things he himself lacks. “His friend had a plan. Cole intended to come back to Banshee Creek, marry his fiancée and turn the town into the ghost capital of the United States.

Mike is a born soldier. He likes schedules, organization, and things that make sense. He finds none of those things in Banshee Creek when he arrives on Halloween. What he does find is a town trying to make his dead friend’s dream come true, even if it involves everything from a one-winged owl to a hunt for the Mothman.

But what I realized early on, is that it’s not his dead friend’s plans that Mike envies. He knows he can get a job, and find himself a girlfriend, a motorcycle, and a place to live. What Cole had that Mike can’t get is a home. When he steps into Abby’s messy, complicated life,  he realizes, “Abby’s house had felt like home right away.”

For Abby’s part, the young soldier she considered her best friend as she healed from her loss is something completely different in person. Their attraction is immediate, but just as strong is the feeling that they are somehow wronging the memory of a man they both loved.

And complicating all that, Banshee Creek is living up to its wannabe rep as the country’s most haunted town. As Mike and Abby join in the investigation into the strange phenomena surrounding the town, it seems obvious that there is more going on than even the equipment-laden PRoVE (Paranormal Research of Virginia Enterprises) can explain.

For anyone who enjoys romance with both humor and a paranormal flair, Banshee Creek is a terrific destination. Must Love Ghosts has two protagonists who have struggled to help each other deal with loss and heartbreak. Each is sure they know what is best for the other, but we get to see them grow and develop as they come to terms with the new reality of their mutual attraction. The book has a quick pace, laugh-out-loud humor, and an irresistibly appealing—if undeniably bizarre—setting that includes a haunted mansion which refuses to be burned down, charmingly quirky Victorian buildings, and a well-rounded cast of supporting characters who are clearly destined for larger roles in future stories.

Must Love Ghosts is a stand-alone funny/hot/feel-good romance with paranormal overtones that avoids the trope-killing props of a love triangle or cliff-hanger, while leaving a cast full of appealing characters, settings, and unsolved mysteries. And the best part is that readers won’t have to wait, because the next three series volumes are already waiting.

***I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

Book Title: Must Love Ghosts (Banshee Creek Romance Series, Book 1)
Author: Ani Gonzalez
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 166 pages
Release Date: Amazon (September 7, 2015)

Contact and Buy Links:

Blog | Twitter| Facebook | Newsletter | Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

At the end of the day, the most important issue left unresolved in Must Love Ghosts is which you would prefer: cider donuts or vampire cupcakes?

[image credit: Mermaid's Bakery] http://mermaidsbakery.com/halloween-gallery.html

[image credit: Mermaid’s Bakery]

[image credit: Idylwildefarm ] http://idylwildefarm.com/bakery/baked_goods/

[image credit: Idylwildefarm]


Comedy Book Week

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