Ghosts in a romance make it much more enjoyable!
First of all, I want to apologize. Although I made no promises, my plan was to have a new book review for your enjoyment once a week. Frankly, I lost track of time. At my age, it just rushes by so fast. I sit down to write and realize it’s been way longer than I thought. So, with that out of the way, let’s talk about another irreverent book.
There is not a huge back story on this book in my life. This was a new author to me, recommended to me by a friend. The only thing that you need to know about me that probably affects how I viewed this book is that I am a bitter old maid. Ha-ha, I try not to be bitter, but frankly the word “romance” will immediately cause my hackles to rise, unless accompanied by “erotic” and “M/M”. When I think of “romance” I think of the books that gave me my sex education as a child. As you may have already guessed, no one monitored what I read at all. If it was around, I picked it up and read it. The fact that it was my great-grandmother who read these books never struck me as odd at the time, but certainly gives me pause these days. I quickly became bored with the formula of romances, which was only slightly more believable that the fairy tales I was already beginning to doubt at this point. The only thing even slightly interesting after the first few was the carefully described sex, which, I discovered later, was often inaccurate and overblown, bearing as much relation to the actual act as the rest of the story had to life. If you still believe in Happily Ever After, I am happy for you, but as I said a couple of weeks ago, it’s my opinion I am sharing with you, and in my experience, it’s a crock.
The book I will be discussing is called Be Still, My Love, by Deborah Hughes. What makes it irreverent? It’s a paranormal romance, which may still be offensive to some readers, no matter how popular the genre seems to have become. There are readers who don’t want to embrace anything happening after death besides angels and harps. I will share the author’s blurb with you, since she summarizes much better than I do! As you may have noticed, I have a tendency to run off at the mouth.
“A personal loss throws medium Tess Schafer’s beliefs into question and severs her communications with “the other side”. Unable to move on with her life, she takes a healing vacation to a haunted resort on the coast of Maine. Her arrival triggers a spike in paranormal activity and the return of her spiritual connection.
As the spirits of two young lovers reach out to her, Tess soon finds herself in the middle of much more than a tragic love story. Why are they afraid and why are they warning her away? Personal doubts, skeptics, a growing sense of menace and a distracting attraction to another guest will not stop her from uncovering the resort’s secrets.”
So, onward to my opinion, which, after all, is why we are here. Tess Schafer is a relatively believable heroine. She is not described in shining perfection, but appears to be an actual imperfect person, who is genuinely grieving for her lost husband. She is equally devastated by the loss of her gift. When a book is written in the first person, it often leads cynical me to the conclusion that the author is in fact writing about herself. Although Ms. Hughes’s biographical information does state a connection to the paranormal, Tess does not seem to be an empty shell for her.
The paranormal aspects are somewhat familiar, but Ms. Hughes has given enough of a twist on the classics to make the story engrossing and enjoyable. The setting is charming, like something out of a cozy mystery, and the secondary characters are relatively well executed. Anything written in the first person is naturally going be less understanding of characters other than the narrator than third person omniscient would be, but the inn’s owners and employees, and the future love interest are reasonably well realized.
If there is any failing in the novel, it is slight. The romance is fairly predictable. If your lead resists her attraction to someone, it’s pretty obvious that’s the person she will end up loving. Even in this, Ms. Hughes gives her heroine someone more initially accessible in an attempt to make the love interest seem surprising. See if you don’t know as soon as you meet him who is the future Mr. Tess.
However, on the Imaqulotta Scale, I rate this book as Earthly.