Title: Mummy Dearest
Author: Josh Lanyon
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Mystery-lite
Length: Novella (66 PDF pages/approx 26k words)
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
One Sentence Review: Fun, light and well-written, Mummy Dearest is a great start a new series.
The truth is out there. Way, way, way out there!
The XOXO Files, Book 1
Drew Lawson is racing against the clock. He’s got a twenty-four-hour window to authenticate the mummy of Princess Merneith. If he’s not at his boyfriend’s garden party when that window closes, it’ll be the final nail in their relationship coffin.
The last thing he needs traipsing on the final shred of his patience is brash, handsome reality show host Fraser Fortune, who’s scheduled to film a documentary about the mummy’s Halloween curse.
The opportunity to film a bona-fide professor examining the mummy is exactly the aura of authenticity Fraser needs. Except the grumpy PhD is a pompous ass on leave from his ivory tower. Yet something about Drew has Fraser using a word he doesn’t normally have to draw upon: please.
With no time to waste—and a spark of attraction he can’t deny—Drew reluctantly agrees to let Fraser follow his every move as he unwraps the mummy’s secrets. Soon they’re both making moves behind the scenes that even the dead can’t ignore…
Product Warnings: Whoso shall ever open this tomb, er, book shall suffer the curse of the Pharaohs. Okay, maybe not. But set aside a chunk of time for marauding mummies, too many cosmopolitans, illicit sex in hotel rooms, and other non-academic shenanigans.
It’s that time of year, fans, so get in line for your copy of the first of the holiday reads: Mummy Dearest by Josh Lanyon, book one of the new XOXO Files series. Set on Halloween, it’s a fun, humorous, fast-paced, tightly- and well-written tale reminiscent of a Thirties- and Forties-style mad-cap film romp with Scooby-Doo flavor and two likeable protags. This quick read is on the lighter side of what Lanyon often writes and it thoroughly entertained me.
The story opens with our first-person narrator, college professor and Egyptologist Dr. Drew Lawson in Walsh, Wyoming, getting ready to examine the mummified remains of Princess Merneith at the local dime museum. He’s on a really tight schedule and just as he is getting ready to start he is derailed by the arrival of the infuriating Fraser Fortune, host of the popular reality-meets-documentary television show, The Mysterious. Fraser is there to investigate the supposed Halloween curse of the mummy and refuses to give up the time he has contracted — bad news for Drew’s schedule, the article for his tenure track and the already rocky relationship he has with his department chair/boyfriend, Noah. It looks like Drew is going back empty-handed, but at the last minute they compromise, Drew getting to do his examination while Fraser shoots it for the show. Once filming wraps and Drew does something long overdue, he and Fraser — who is not nearly the jerk he seemed to be earlier — have drinks, dinner, more drinks, a chase around the town after a mummy and more. And what about this legend of the curse?
I liked both protags very much and felt they were well-fleshed for length of the book. I liked watching Drew unwind and rediscover himself over the course of the story, letting loose and just having a good time with Fraser. I was glad that both on his own and with Fraser’s help he was able to see what he had given up of himself to be with Noah.
For Fraser, I was really hoping that we wouldn’t get an egotistical jerk in the reality show host and I wasn’t disappointed. I found him totally endearing, a nice guy with boyish honesty, curiosity, silliness and amusement. Cocky, but not overly-so with just a touch of insecurity and shyness. Supportive and attentive, I loved how he was able to bring Drew out of his shell and show him how it could — and should — be.
The plot is fun and fast, and I found myself smiling and chuckling through a lot of the story, especially the scene in the bar with our two toasted heroes laughing at each other — and everything else. But underneath the fun are more serious themes of being true to yourself and that while relationships are about compromise, it’s possible to give in too much.
Even though Lanyon could have added another smexxin scene without doing disservice to the rest of the book, I thought there was the perfect amount of the down-and-dirty for the length of the story. Some readers may feel differently, but not me.
My only complaint is that it was over far too soon! Well, maybe one more (and it has nothing to do with the story itself) — what’s up with that cover? I like it as a whole, but not for this book. Neither of those guys represents our protags to me, especially Fraser, since he is described as “a stocky young guy…with sandy hair, neatly trimmed beard and long-lashed hazel eyes.”
Mummy Dearest is a great start to a new series. My guess is that it will be a while before we are treated to the next installment considering that Lanyon is taking a year-long sabbatical in 2012, but I’ll be first in line for it. I can’t wait to spend more time with Drew and Fraser.
Mummy Dearest releases with Samhain tomorrow, October 4.