by Audrey Godwin

October 2003
ISBN: 1-58608-345-7
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Lieutenant Shadoe Madison, has been forced to take leave from his job as an undercover detective with the NYPD. His co-workers feel he is a little burned out and while Shadoe forcefully complained about his leave no one listened. In order to renew himself and save his job, Shadoe takes a vacation to Scarlet Bay, Georgia, to stay at a haunted inn. Shadoe figures a ghost hunt will take his mind off work and keep his investigative instincts sharp. Imagine his surprise when the ghost he is hunting turns out to be a flesh and blood woman.

Julita Van Dare has been held prisoner by her psychotic older sister for almost her entire life. Soon, Shadoe is neck deep in the mystery that surrounds Julita and is head over heels in love with her. As she and Sahdoe look for the truth behind Julitaís life, the danger around them grows and they realize that family can be a persons worst enemy. Shadoe and Julita must overcome both of their pasts and survive her sisterís attempts on their lives in order to find the truth.

Pretty Baby, by Audrey Godwin is a unique take on the traditional Cinderella story. Julita is a helpless, trapped woman who has no idea that what she experienced at the hands of her sister is not normal. Godwinís characters are well written and capture the readerís attention right from the first page. Unfortunately, my patience with Julitaís immaturity began to wane as the story progressed and as the climax approached, I found myself unable to believe that Julita was mature enough to fall in love with anyone. It often appears in the story that she has the emotional level of a five year old, and I found if difficult to believe a full grown man such as Shadoe would find her attractive or want to fall in love with such a woman. The real problem with story is the plot which presents Julita as a child and makes the reader feel that the love between Shadoe and Julita is wrong and almost incestuous. Then, there is the extremely weird relationship that both sisters have with their father. This relationship not only detracts from the story but also makes the reader physically ill as it progresses. In my opinion the writer played with readers mind a little too much with this relationship.

This book became so disturbing that I almost could not finish reading it. This story is an interesting twist on a traditional story but the intensity of the plot makes it a very difficult and extremely emotional read and detracts from the love story that is central to any good romance.

Reviewed in November 2003 by Jen.

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