Tara Cole has a successful mail-order business selling an unusual product: gifts for people who want revenge against those who have wronged them. Among her most successful items are lacy pillows stuffed with cat hair (for people who are allergic to cats), boxer shorts guaranteed to set off metal detectors at the airport (for cheating husbands), and Candy-A-Day (a daily chocolate certain to help expand your worst enemy's hips). Tara's friend Kathy warns her that revenge is bad for her karma, but Tara has a pretty good life, even if her house is filled with ghosts who create chaos in her kitchen.
When a very cute guy named Howard shows up, wanting to buy into Tara's business, she's quick to assure him that she works alone, but she can't help being attracted to him. Unfortunately, just about the time Howard enters Tara's life, so does a series of increasingly larger black animals, harbingers of imminent disaster and evidence that someone has laid a curse on Tara. Howard may be attracted to her, but could he also be the one responsible for Tara's change of luck?
Cindy Cruciger has written a charmingly funny romantic suspense caper, redolent with the sizzling heat of the Florida keys in mid-summer. Tara is possibly the most curmudgeonly heroine in the history of romance novels, but her dry wit and acid tongue are hilarious. Tara and Howard (AKA Muffin) are steamy lovers, and Cruciger peoples her novel with other unique characters, such as the improbably debonair but deeply disturbing Darius, demented harpy Miss Good Voodoo, terrifyingly efficient Kimberly Case (Tara's nemesis from her previous job), and taciturn, scary Rique, the cook at Crusty's Bar, which Tara runs for her friend in exchange for free rent and use of a boat. Not to be overlooked are the ghost of Uncle Les, who turns the lights on and off at the most inopportune times, the kitchen poltergeist, who smashes eggs at night, and Zeke the kitten, cuddly and adorable.
REVENGE GIFTS is a perfect beach read, a quick-moving page-turner with something for everyone. This book is highly recommended, and readers will certainly be on the lookout for the next dishy confection from newcomer Cindy Cruciger.