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New Release Review and Giveaway: NOT QUITE DEAD by Lyla Payne (Lowcountry Ghost Story #1)

In the mood for an atmospheric ghost story-slash-mystery? Check out this new series!


Not Quite Dead
by Lyla Payne
(A Lowcountry Ghost Story)
Publication date: April 1st 2014
Genres: Mystery, New Adult, Paranormal


A broken engagement sends Graciela Harper crawling back to Heron Creek with her tail between her legs, but finds the sleepy little town too changed to set her life right. Not even her budding drinking problem can obscure her Gramps’s failing health, or erase the mental picture of her first love happily married to her childhood best friend. To top it all off, she’s having a heck of time convincing the town’s dashing young mayor of her unfit-for-dating status.

When the ghost of 18th century lady pirate Anne Bonny starts insisting on a near daily audience, Graciela has to confront something else she never expected—being certifiably nuts at twenty-five years old.

Her brand new “I don’t give a crap” attitude makes it easy to dismiss the mysterious threats that seem to be tied to her search for more information on the long dead pirate, but when her family becomes a target, Gracie knows she needs to find out why the ghost insists on being a constant, reeking companion.

If Graciela can put aside her prejudice against people without a pulse, she may discover that Anne Bonny’s problems are intricately linked with her own. The past harbors answers could help the cantankerous spirit find closure, but she is, after all, already dead. If Graciela doesn’t move fast, she might find herself doing the haunting, instead of the other way around.



You can’t go home again–or can you?

Graciela Harper has moved back to Heron Creek. On the surface it’s to help her grandfather, but she also needs some alone time to lick her wounds from a broken engagement. Oh, and maybe to work on her budding alcohol problem. She hasn’t been back in years–in fact, she hadn’t really planned on ever coming back, not to stay–and much has changed. Two of her former friends are now married (and there’s some major backstory in there, because one of them was also Gracie’s first boyfriend) and the third, her cousin Millie, hasn’t spoken to her in five years.

They’d all been as thick as thieves once upon a time. Now it’s all just…awkward.

Before she knows it she has a new job, and an old enemy has become an unexpected new friend. And then there’s her stalker. No, not the hot new mayor–though he does manage to pop up an awful lot when Graciela’s around. The other one. The one who supposedly died two hundred years ago, give or take a few years, yet keeps popping up at really inconvenient times.

Not that there’s a good time to see a ghost, but still…

I really liked Ms. Payne’s writing style. There were quite a few lines that made me smile or even laugh out loud, and several that I read out loud to those around me. She even had me darn close to tears at one point, and a couple of other scenes had me literally on the edge of my seat.

Gracie–once she gets past her initial “poor me” phase–is a likable heroine with a lot of snark. The secondary characters are nicely fleshed out, and we get just enough of everyone’s past to make us become invested in their future. The ghost is deliciously creepy–I was almost hesitant to shut off the last light before going to bed last night after staying up late reading.

I did shut it off of course, but the cottage we’re renting does indeed have some interesting shadows, not to mention strange noises…


I really enjoyed reading Not Quite Dead. The main parts of the story were wrapped up at the end–one bit was resolved a *touch* too neatly, but it wasn’t glaringly so and it was satisfactorily handled, so I didn’t mind it too much. There are a few threads left hanging that will presumably be addressed in a future book, giving the reader something to look forward to. There’s nothing remotely cliffhanger-ish about the ending, but there is something that happens on the very last page that pretty much guarantees I’ll be first in line for book two of the series.

All in all, an entertaining read!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.








Lyla Payne has been publishing New Adult romance novels for a little over a year, starting with Broken at Love and continuing with the rest of the Whitman University series. She loves telling stories, discovering the little reasons people fall in love, and uncovering hidden truths in the world around us – past and present. In her spare time she cuddles her two dogs, pretends to enjoy exercising so that she can eat as much Chipotle as she wants, and harbors a deep and abiding hope that Zac Efron likes older women. She loves reading, of course, along with movies, traveling, and Irish whiskey. Lyla’s hard at work, ALWAYS, and hopes to bring you more Whitman University antics and at least one more Lowcountry ghost tale before the end of the year.

Lyla Payne is represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

If you want to know more, please visit her at

If you’re a fan of Young Adult fiction–science fiction or otherwise–please check out her work that’s published under the name Trisha Leigh.

Author links:


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  1. “Not that there’s a good time to see a ghost, but still…” Lol! I would probably die if I ever saw a ghost they really freak me out. And so naturally I love books about them! 😀 This one sounds great, too! I love hoe realistic the MC sounds and how she grows on the reader, too. It also sounds like you were reading in the perfect horror book setting! 😉 Great review,

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