Comment: This is the second installment in the Tradd Street series, although I suppose a better title would be the name of the protagonist, Melanie Middleton for she is the common denominator.
In this second story, which happens very closely after the events on book #1, we see Melanie going on about her life but with an annoyance ta having to interact with her mother whom, we know, has abandoned her and her husband when Melanie was a child. Now she's back and with warnings of something dangerous and of some ghost who wants to cause Melanie harm. As these issues get on her nerves, there's also the problem of Jack Trenholm, the man who keeps saying he likes Melanie but is so attractive to all women, including Rebecca, a journalist who shows up claiming to want to do a piece on Melanie's mother, a famous person. At first it all seemed innocent enough but as the days go by and Rebecca is more and more present in her daily life, things seem to be a bit too mysterious for Melanie. To top this all. the amazing house Melanie got and which is going to be renovated is one problem after the other. Can Melanie deal with all the sudden challenges or will she remain aloof and distant as she has done her whole life?
Some would label this book as a cozy mystery and, in part, I agree. The plot is both focused on the mystery/investigation and on Melanie as a character. There is some hint of romance as well, but that is clearly not the most important element. I would also say that, in this book, both progress and setbacks happen in this department, which can be seen as frustrating by those readers who are primarily interested in the romance.
The story picks up where the last one ended and now Melanie is the owner of a gorgeous house but which needs renovations so she can live there comfortably. A good part of the story is dedicated to this but never to impossible levels in my opinion. Still, for those who don't really enjoy the subject in fiction, I think it's hard not to notice it. At the same time, her mother is coming back and wants to have her own place, which Melanie is more or less forced on helping her do, and with this new old house, another menacing ghost comes along, propelling the plot into another paranormal adventure. Luckily for the reader, with this come new information and we do get to understand Melanie, and her family's motivations, better.
I think the ghost mystery linked with all the secondary characters help and importance was well done. Perhaps for seasoned readers on mystery books this might not seem the most complex thing, but I had a good enough time trying to put the pieces together. Some details were purposely confusing for plot reasons but in the end I was happy with the amount of detail and thought which went into it.
Still, although I'm invested in the books as a whole, I can't hide that the evolution of Melanie as a protagonist and how her personal life is such a big deal in the big scheme of things play a major role in my interest. In this book I must say I was quite glad Melanie has managed to take positive steps into becoming closer to her mother - as it sort of happened in the previous book with her father - and once we learn why they were apart, why her mother left them, it's not totally unreasonable but in hindsight, of course some decisions might have been different. Nevertheless, we got to learn more about the family dynamics and we got to see another side of Melanie.
As for Melanie's romance with Jack, all is as it was, meaning, confusing and unsolved. I think any reader has a pretty good idea where things will go, but the process hasn't been easy and, in part, that is due to Melanie's reserve and slightly standoffish personality. I can understand her reticence and I do identify with some of her self reasoning for why she doesn't just take the step we would like to see her doing. In terms of plot, the author also muddled things a bit by making Jack do something I think was unnecessary. Thankfully, the vibe isn't one of full angst, otherwise this relationship might not feel like salvageable to me, but I certainly hope the next book might offer something new in this department.