I'm a huge fan of Deeanne Gist - I'm just gonna go ahead and put that out there. The first book I read by her was A Bride in the Bargain, which is still my favorite. She's got a great writing style; her settings are so well researched and believable that you walk away feeling as though you've vacationed there.
This book differs from Gist's previous novels because it was a joint effort with J. Mark Bertrand, a suspense/crime writer. Bertrand's suspense background was a useful influence; it made for a story that was not only a great romance but also kept you on the edge of your seat till the very end. The romance and mystery were so well blended that it enhanced the story and made for a richer experience.
Beguiled is set in Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is a city of rich history and I really enjoyed the setting. Rylee Monroe, our unlikely heroine, is a dog walker in the old money part of Charleston. She's kind of in her own little world. She loves the dogs she walks, as well as, their owners and has become well trusted. But when a string of "Robin Hood" burglaries hit, Rylee's reputation comes under attack.
Enter Logan Woods, a reporter for the local paper. He's covering the burglaries and moonlighting as a crime novel author. When he begins to research, he runs into a common element in all the burglaries: Rylee Monroe. Suddenly, Rylee becomes the focus of his investigative reporting.
Rylee and Logan are polar opposite characters. Even though Rylee and Logan both grew up in Charleston, their lives have taken completely different paths...it makes for interesting interactions. As for Rylee, she's a very down to earth person: sweet but guarded. She's used to taking care of herself and others but is a little naive about it. She sees the world as it has been presented to her and tends to not look deeper. She doesn't see the mystery in things. Logan, on the other hand, finds the mystery in everything. He is, at the heart of him, an investigative reporter. He doesn't just live in the city but he knows it and is part of it.
Logan surrounds himself with a network of friends, family and colleagues that know him and are always there for him. Other than her sometimes lucid Grandmother, Rylee finds family in the next door neighbor, the dogs she walks and the owners.
The plot isn't ground-breaking or anything but it's good. Isn't the point of a good mystery to keep you guessing till the very end? Well, this book does that. Their story is sweet and funny. You really feel like you know that characters when you finish reading. If you are a fan of Deeanne Gist you will not be disappointed with this great book. I highly recommend it!