Darkhouse - Karina Halle Perry Palomino has an average life--that is, until a weekend trip to the Oregon Coast Lighthouse has her meet up with Declan "Dex" Foray, a cameraman hunting ghost stories. And what do you know, it appears that the Lighthouse may very well be haunted!

This book isn't necessarily the best book in the world (and I'll get to those points, trust me), but I absolutely could not put it down towards the end. I read this via ebook, which meant reading it on my phone, which I tend to do only when it's inconvenient to have an actual paperback book. But this book grabbed me so badly, that I found myself constantly picking up my phone to read, instead of turning to my equally available paperback. It was just that gripping.

I think what this book did best were the characters and their relationships. Perry Palomino was an excellent character. She was funny, smart, conflicted. She didn't just run into trouble, she didn't leave herself to be rescued constantly, she tried to think of the "mature" thing to do, and she didn't think with her ovaries. Okay, so sometimes she did really stupid things (like hanging out with a guy she barely knew--that I probably wouldn't have done). But compared to other urban fantasy protagonists, it could have been a LOT worse.

I think one of the things that really connected me to Perry was how she was working in a dead-end position as a receptionist. Once upon a time, I worked at a position that wasn't using my talents to the fullest, and I was, like Perry, bored stiff and anxious to find something fulfilling. And while her job story may get a somewhat "happily ever after", for me, it worked, because, hey, wish fulfillment. I also liked how she was a fuller figured girl, and not just "big" in her mind (you know, the "Bella Swan", "I am so ugly with my cream colored skin and long, flowing chestnut hair"). Sure, that leads to a few conversations that I don't think would ever happen (an old high school friend saying she wasn't that "chubby little girl" anymore or a possible employer mentioning she was probably too big to be on an internet show), but at least, it shows that Perry isn't wangsting over being a size 4 when she wants to be a size 0.

Ada, Perry's younger sister, was pretty good most of the time. Ada and Perry seemed to be pretty close, on the most part, and I love it when sisters in fiction are that way. My sis and I are like glue--we tell each other EVERYTHING.

And then we have Declan "Dex" Foray, a more complicated man I've never met. Which works out good for him. He is described as a "Robert Downey Jr in his strung-out drug days". I'm not too fond of this type of description--it's kinda cheap and lazy, and it also has the unintended outcome of having the reader bring into the character his/her opinions of the actor and the movies he has been in. But I will say, it works here, because Dex does seem to act like quite a few off the Downey characters I've seen. He's erratic and sarcastic and high octane and unpredictable, but he also is smart and concerned and driven.

Which leads to probably the best thing in this book: the Perry-Dex relationship. Their scenes are amazing--funny, witty, sarcastic, and, yes, sexy. They really have good chemistry, and it's not just because Perry can't stop thinking about Dex or is contemplating how good his chiseled abs are. I feel that, even though Perry knows Dex a few days, she actually KNOWS something about him and likes something besides his physical appearance. And THAT will ALWAYS be sexy in my mind.

In the beginning, the story felt like a lot of wish fulfillment fiction (like the type I used to write). Average girl in boring job discovers amazing guy and creepy place. But I think the story moved away with that when Dex and Perry returned to the lighthouse. Plus, let's face it, I gave it more leeway because I have a soft spot for that kinda story--especially in the way Halle told it.

Some things I didn't like but was able to blast past that might be deal-breakers for you:

1. Girl Hate. You know that thing in a novel where the female protagonist makes snide comments about every other woman, because they can't keep their eyes off the sexy male in the story? Yeah, things border on that here. The receptionist that replaces Perry at lunch is shown as a vindictive b!tch, an old college classmate acts patronizing to Perry, a receptionist at Dex's company eyes him up while shooting daggers at Perry--even Ada and Perry's own mother get in on the hate to nag Perry about her weight, her lack of fashion, etc. I am hoping in the next book, Perry gets at least ONE good female friend.

Also, I didn't like how many times Perry talked about "stupid girly thinking". EMBRACE the feminine, girlfriend. Don't be like Anita Blake...PLEASE!!

2. Inconsistencies. Perry finds herself losing the memories of a dream. But then, a few hours later, she "remembered it more clearly with each hour". I found myself confused about how many floors there were in the lighthouse. Perry mentions seeing an armoire in the lighthouse "yesterday", only on that day, Perry and Dex never even made it into the lighthouse. Ada is said to have posted on her blog "every day since [Perry] left" (as if trying to "bury" Perry's ghost posts), but since she left on Saturday and is checking on Sunday...two posts? Whoop-dee-doo. Two posts won't exactly bury the ghost posts, unless Ada has a blog completely unlike most of the ones I've seen.

3. Pop Culture References. LOST. Slayer. Jennifer Aniston. Dita von Teese. Vertigo. Good Will Hunting. I personally prefer these to be kept to a minimum (unless the book is "Ready Player One") for similar reasons to why I prefer characters not to be described as real people. A) Lazy, B) readers bring in their own interpretation and impression of the thing (which could be "ZOMG, I LOVE THIS!!!" to "HORRIBLE!!! HATE!", C) some readers may not be familiar with whatever pop culture reference you make, and therefore, the descriptor fails.

This book may not be for everyone. In fact, I was surprised it clicked so well with me. Normally, I'd probably give a book like this 3 or 4 stars at best and move on. But I really liked this book. It was fun, it was enjoyable, it was scary, it was interesting, and I will be doing two things: 1) I am going TO BUY the paperback copy as soon as I can (even though I have the free ebook) and 2) I will be checking out the rest of the books in the series. I definitely recommend checking out the free ebook and seeing if this is something you would enjoy.