Review: Stumptown Spirits by E.J. Russell

Stumptown SpiritsRating: 3.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
Length: Novel


Stumptown Spirits is an interesting, contemporary reconnection romance that also features some paranormal elements. While the premise was excellent, I felt as if the execution didn’t quite hit the mark.

Riley and Logan were serious boyfriends—on the verge of a marriage proposal—when Logan disappeared from Riley’s apartment and life in what may have been a staged scene of infidelity. Riley’s life seemed to implode after this incident. He walked away from completing his Master’s degree in folklore studies, only to land a “research” job with his best friend, Julie, a production assistant on a third-rate “Ghost Hunter”-type cable program. Riley is a glorified gofer, but he’s got a great story that might gain him some well-deserved respect: the Stumptown Ghost War, a legend he first heard from Logan, the night they met in fact.

Logan’s roots in Portland, OR, go deep. His grandfather, a WWII vet, was vilified after he claimed to witness a spectral ghost battle in a secluded park—a battle where one of his friends got pulled into the fight and vanished from existence. Then, six years ago, Logan took his college roommate and sexytime-friend, Trent, out to see the ghosts, and Trent got sucked into the vortex, too. Logan had nearly given up devising a plan to save Trent, when he met Riley. Being with Riley was all he had ever longed for, and Riley—who is a bit mousy and has an Elmer Fudd speech impediment—counted himself uber-lucky to have such a sexy boyfriend.

Riley and his TV crew show up in Portland to film the Ghost War, and Riley and Logan reconnect. It’s not pretty. It does get gritty. And that’s kinda where I got wrong-footed on the book.

Riley’s a smart man, but he lets Logan mistreat him. He makes excuses that he knows are unreasonable, mostly because he believes Logan’s hiding something big. And, he is. Instead of trusting Riley, he hides and hides and hides his involvement and personal stake in the ghost war. Riley is smart, however, and he reads between the lines. He figures out not only what Logan won’t tell him, but also how to turn the tide and keep Logan safe, while also righting old wrongs and saving innocents.

If only Logan wasn’t such a giant horse’s ass. Really. Because he’s got a gargantuan Hero Complex and blistering Martyr Complex, his efforts to keep Riley from danger are nothing short of ham-handed and ridiculous. I gave him the benefit of the doubt for 75% of the book, but after that I mostly wanted to punch him. Logan’s redemption, if one could call it that, is that Riley never gives up, Logan really DOES love Riley, and external forces luckily converge serendipitously to save the day, and that was not cool, for me. I wanted Logan to wise up, cooperate with Riley, and be a real hero, not a moron. The one thing I can say is, he does the right thing in the end, even if it’s long after the peril was over. So, it’s an HEA.

I got real tired of the bullying Riley suffers from the TV host. I can’t even, with all the stereotyping. And I was aggravated by the lack of real physical connection between Riley and Logan. There’s one scene of sexytimes, and it’s almost heartbreaking, and I mean that in the sad and lonely, one-last-time way that always makes me maudlin. The book is set up for a sequel, with Riley and Logan on the hunt for another ghostly adventure. I’d be interested to see if these guys finally got their act together, or if they are destined to fall into the recurring legendary errors that Riley so diligently studies.

veronica sig

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