**I received an ARC of this book from Harlequin publisher via Netgalley. I was not compensated in any ways for this review. **
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Emerging from the bayou like an apparition, Donegal Plantation is known for its unsurpassed dining, captivating atmosphere, haunting legends…and now a corpse swinging from the marble angel that marks its cemetery’s most majestic vault. A corpse discovered in nearly the same situation as that of Marshall Donegal, the patriarch killed in a skirmish just before the Civil War. Desperate for help traditional criminologists could never provide, plantation heiress Ashley Donegal turns to an elite team of paranormal investigators who blend hard forensics with rare – often inexplicable – intuition. Among them is Jake Mallory, a gifted New Orleans musician with talent that stretches beyond the realm of the physical, and a few dark ghosts of his own. The evil the team unveils has the power to shake the plantation to its very core. Jake and Ashley are forced to risk everything to unravel secrets that will not stay buried – even in death…
My Thoughts: Heart of Evil is the second book in the Krewe of Hunters series (trilogy?) but this one focuses on Jake. The "Krewe" consists of the same characters so we get to know each of them a little more but the main focus is on Jake and Ashley.
I've said it before and I'll say it again....I love Heather Graham! I think there has only been one book of hers that fell flat for me. I enjoyed Heart of Evil immensely! It has the perfect blend of ghost story, romance and history. And best of all (in my opinion), it takes place in New Orleans on a beautiful old plantation. How can you go wrong?
There is a lot of history in the Donegal's past. Every year they do a reenactment of Marshall Donegal's fight with the Yankees and his death. This year however, the man portraying Marshall Donegal goes missing after the reenactment. Ashley knows something is wrong but the police won't take her seriously since he hasn't been missing for 48 hours.
Adam Harrison just happens to be friends with Ashley's grandfather, Frazier and so he sends his "krewe of hunters" down to see what is up. Jake has known Ashley all his life and even had a brief romance with her that ended on a slightly sour note. This doesn't stop him from heading down early and it's a good thing too since Ashley finds the body of the man portraying Marshall Donegal in her family's cemetery! From there the mystery gets more intense and add that with the sweet romance between Jake and Ashley and the ghosts that show up and you have a fun, fast-paced book!
I liked Ashley's character a lot. She wasn't weak or whiny at all. She got things done and everyone listened to her. Of course, she was beautiful and smart. She also wasn't too horribly stupid...as in "I'm going to go down to the basement in the dark, by myself, knowing there is a killer down there because I can" kind of stupid. She accepted help when she needed it and even during the climax of the story, she tried to be as smart as possible while being as safe as possible (sorry...this is confusing but I don't want to give anything away).
Jake is your typical hot, strong, studdly FBI agent. But I say that in a good way! He is protective of Ashley but only one time towards the end did he get overly protective where I thought "really?". Otherwise he was pretty mellow. I loved that his and Ashley's romance wasn't over the top and while it was present in the story, it wasn't too much.
The ending kept me guessing and this is what I love about Graham. I was never able to guess who the villain was. As soon as I thought it was someone a twist was thrown in and I would think it was someone else. Turns out that I never did get it right and I was surprised at the end to find out who it was.
If you like a little bit of romance, some ghosts and history about the Civil War, this book is for you! It was an easy read, kept me interested and on edge the entire time and was a complete surprise at the end. I can't wait to start the next book in the series!