Rating: 3.25 stars
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When ex-police officer Daren O’Conner arrives at the old farm house he just purchased, all he wants to do is recuperate from his wounds and try to recover from the disgrace and ignominy that resulted when his partner on and off the force turned out to be a bad cop who shot him during a drug deal gone sour. No one on the force would believe that he hadn’t known his partner was dirty because they had been together for so long. So Daren was fired while he was in the hospital and it seemed a good idea to put as much distance between him and his old job as possible. Now all he wants to do is pour his leftover energies into rehabbing the old house, but the house’s ghost has other ideas.
Shinjiro “Toby” Anderson has been waiting 30 years for someone to enter his house and be able to see him, listen to him, and avenge him, and now it finally has happened. Thirty years ago Toby was murdered when he was only 18 years old and his murder was never properly investigated, nor were his murderers caught. When Toby realizes that Daren can see and hear him, he hopes that Daren will help him find justice and solve his murder so he can find peace at last.
But a funny thing starts to happen during their investigation… Daren and Toby fall for each other. But what future can a living person and a ghost have together? What will happen when the murderers are finally caught and Toby has to move on?
Where to begin? I have read and really enjoyed Amylea Lyn’s books in the past. Even with some quibbles, each book always had so many redeeming features that I could easily recommend them. That’s not going to happen here. I do love a good ghost story and if you include the possibility of a romantic interest, however implausible, so much the better. But your characters and plot had better be up to snuf in order to make the impossible plausible and again, that did not happen here.
For starters, there are the characters. When we first meet Toby, he is a giggling 18-year-old ghost who is fondling the naked bits of our disgraced police officer. What? No, really. This angst ridden ghost announces his presence by getting fresh with Daren to his utter disbelief. The angst filled, innocent Toby reestablishes himself later on as almost an entirely different persona. So we get a confused characterization right from the start. At some parts of the story, Toby comes across as an under age teenager, which made me queasy, and at other times he is sexually aggressive and far more experienced than he is supposed to be and more than a match for the thirty-something Daren. True he has been dead for 30 years but that in no way explains the swings in personality.
Then there is Daren, our pain-ridden, angst filled ex police officer. He is probably the most realized character of the bunch. But again he can swing from a hardened police officer and ex ranger who has seen it all to someone who has a dialog that goes like this when the murderer tells him that he is going to rape Daren before he kills him. “So do whatever it is you have to do, but know that I will never give myself willingly to you, even if it means I get to prolong my life a few moments more.” What? Do hardened police officers not tell murderers to go to hell or f*%k off anymore? Yes, character inconsistencies abound, even with the best the book has to offer.
And then there is the vocabulary and epithets. The author commits one of my huge “oh no she didn’t” vocabulary don’ts. Toby has “blue orbs awash in ghostly tears.” You can just imagine the vision that popped into my head or maybe its better you don’t. Again, sigh. Then there are the epithets. I counted no less than 10 “smaller man” mentions in several paragraphs to be followed by three “younger man” usages in three consecutive sentences. And then even more “smaller man” and “younger man” followed, one right after the other. I gave up counting after a while there were so many. When poor dialog choices follow shaky characterizations then your plot should be out of this world.
And that didn’t happen here. The murderers were identified halfway through the story, and the resolution to the murder just on this side of ludicrous. About the best thing I can say is that it has a very nicely done ghost sex scene and a HEA. So if you are looking to read a book by Amylea Lyn, start with the Outside the City series. I can recommend those, but give this one a skip. I think you will thank me for it.
Cover. I adored the cover for this book. The cover artist is Lee Tiffin and this is one of the best covers of the year. Haunting, ghostly, perfect in every way except for the book within.