Book Review: Not Quite Dead by Lyla Payne!

Title: Not Quite Dead 
Author: Lyla Payne
Series: (A Lowcountry Ghost Story)
Publication date: April 1st 2014
Genres: Mystery, New Adult, Paranormal
Source: eARC

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A broken engagement sends Graciela Harper crawling back to Heron Creek with her tail between her legs, but finds the sleepy little town too changed to set her life right. Not even her budding drinking problem can obscure her Gramps’s failing health, or erase the mental picture of her first love happily married to her childhood best friend. To top it all off, she’s having a heck of time convincing the town’s dashing young mayor of her unfit-for-dating status.

When the ghost of 18th century lady pirate Anne Bonny starts insisting on a near daily audience, Graciela has to confront something else she never expected—being certifiably nuts at twenty-five years old.

Her brand new “I don’t give a crap” attitude makes it easy to dismiss the mysterious threats that seem to be tied to her search for more information on the long dead pirate, but when her family becomes a target, Gracie knows she needs to find out why the ghost insists on being a constant, reeking companion.

If Graciela can put aside her prejudice against people without a pulse, she may discover that Anne Bonny’s problems are intricately linked with her own. The past harbors answers could help the cantankerous spirit find closure, but she is, after all, already dead. If Graciela doesn’t move fast, she might find herself doing the haunting, instead of the other way around.
“To Anne Bonny, for letting me imagine the end of her story. Here’s hoping she doesn’t haunt me for the rest of my life.” Ditto.

The story began when Gracie left everything in Iowa and went back to Heron Creek to take care of her Gramps. But that’s not the only reason she left her life in Iowa, she’s hiding and her grandparents’ house is the only thing she can call home. Gracie’s current state has a lot of background story in it, from leaving her hometown (and also her first love) to chasing her dreams and losing her friends along the way, including herself. 

Why does cheating partners always gets caught on a desk/table with someone (mostly, a secretary or in this case, an assistant)? Does this kind of thing really happen in real life? Do people really have no self-control when in lust? And I don’t get the meaning behind the cover. Why is she holding a rose? Does it signify something? Did I miss it while reading? Why is she lying in a place where there are rocks and pebbles? 

The names were quite confusing too. But maybe there is a meaning to it? 

  • James Bonny
  • Jack Rackham
  • Joseph Burleigh
  • Melaine
  • Melanie
  • Jack

I really connected right away to Graciela. She doesn’t like people and likes to be alone but not completely alone. I felt her when she saw her first love and best friend together, happily married with a son. Nothing hurts more than seeing the one that got away. She left because she had bigger dreams and wanted an adventurous life than growing old in Heron Creek but she didn’t regret her decision to leave (Which I adore). She wants something bigger out her life than being a housewife. Also, she dislikes mornings like I do! 

This novel is beyond a ghost story, more than the story of a girl who sees a ghost. It’s a story of rebuilding trust and friendship and at the same time uncovering a historic curse. You might not want to read it at night, in the dark, when it’s way past your bed time. It clearly wasn’t my greatest idea. I love that it’s sort of a contemporary romance at first but surprises you with thriller in it. I was spooked when reading the Anne Bonny part but gradually became entertained with how the story unfolds. Gracie’s continuing conversation with Anne was beginning to be funny. I also enjoyed the story of Anne Bonny. No wonder she’s still haunting people 200 years later. I think Anne’s story can be a whole book! Maybe a spin-off of how the story about Jack Jr. turned out?

Of course, the story wouldn’t be complete without a new love interest for Grace-baby now would it? Here comes the overconfident but gentle Mr. Mayor, Beauregard Drayton. Now, Gracie handled their first encounter beautifully and I certainly would love to read more of them. 

NOT QUITE DEAD will haunt every reader with an all-in story of friendship, romance, thriller and mystery. I can’t wait for the sequel!
(note that the copy I have is an advance reader's copy, which is often uncorrected)
“…It’s okay to shoot things that annoy you.”
“..There’s no way 6:00 a.m. and I are ever going to be acquainted.”
“Until the end, remember?”  
“Until the end.”
Lyla Payne has been publishing New Adult romance novels for a little over a year, starting with Broken at Love and continuing with the rest of the Whitman University series. She loves telling stories, discovering the little reasons people fall in love, and uncovering hidden truths in the world around us - past and present. In her spare time she cuddles her two dogs, pretends to enjoy exercising so that she can eat as much Chipotle as she wants, and harbors a deep and abiding hope that Zac Efron likes older women. She loves reading, of course, along with movies, traveling, and Irish whiskey. Lyla's hard at work, ALWAYS, and hopes to bring you more Whitman University antics and at least one more Lowcountry ghost tale before the end of the year.
Lyla Payne is represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

If you want to know more, please visit her at

If you're a fan of Young Adult fiction--science fiction or otherwise--please check out her work that's published under the name Trisha Leigh.

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Open to US and Canada
$10 Amazon gift card, signed copy of Not Quite Dead, plus swag

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1 comment :

  1. Great review! I love ghost books and this one sounds right up my alley. I like that it's more than just creepy, it has depth and topics of friendships etc. It also sounds like the MC has a really likeable voice!