Rating: 4.25 stars
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Wolf Kincaid runs Hellsinger Investigations, a company who gets hired to investigate (and generally debunk) suspicious ghost sightings and hauntings. When he is approached by a woman claiming her nephew is crazy and has turned their family estate into a ghost hotel, Wolf agrees to take the case. Apparently Tristan Pryce inherited the mansion, Hoxne Grange, as a young man from his eccentric uncle. He has turned it into a hotel and now claims that ghosts come to stay before crossing over from our world, but always for three days only. Now his family is determined to prove that Tristan has lost it so they can reclaim the property.
When Wolf arrives at Hoxne Grange with his assistants, Gidget and Matt, the first thing he notices is how hot Tristan is. The second is that their ghost detection equipment is going crazy, with off the chart readings (not to mention mysteriously packing itself back up almost as soon as they set it up). At first Wolf is sure that Tristan is behind things, but the man is earnest in his convictions that every day ghosts come to check into the hotel. Tristan sees and speaks to them, even though no one else can. He explains how he and his uncle were the only ones who could see the ghosts, and as a child how Hoxne Grange was the only place he felt at home and accepted for his ghost sighting abilities.
As Wolf and Tristan spend more time together, an attraction grows. Wolf still doesn’t know quite what to believe, but he is falling for Tristan and can tell that Tristan wholeheartedly accepts the ghosts are real. Then suddenly things change when Gidget accidentally summons a murderous ghost, one who brings a dark energy with her than everyone can see, not just Tristan. And unlike the others, this ghost is not friendly. With a killer ghost on their hands, Wolf must accept that this all may be much more real than he once thought, and use all his experience and connections to try to stop the ghost before she succeeds in destroying Tristan.
Fish and Ghosts is a play on the saying “Fish and guests start stink after three days.” In this case, it is actually fish and ghosts, as the hotel guests only stay for three days. This clever set up leads into a really creative story and a great start to a new series.
Both Tristan and Wolf are really interesting, well developed characters. Tristan grew up as a loner and a misfit. His family didn’t understand him; no one but his uncle could also see ghosts. He never really belonged anywhere until his uncle took him in at the Grange and he finally found acceptance with someone of like mind and skill. But now that his uncle has died, Tristan is alone again, living by himself with not much other than the ghosts for company. He has had a lot of uncertainty about his sexually, never finding anyone he connects with. But as soon as Tristan meets Wolf, his doubts go away, as he finds the man incredibly attractive immediately. I loved Tristan, with his blend of shy and awkward, combined with this fascinating connection to the ghostly world. And I loved seeing him find happiness with Wolf.
Wolf is another really well developed character, and we learn more about his backstory as the book goes along. What is most interesting with Wolf is his skepticism. He makes his living investigating ghosts, dealing mostly with people who are faking their hauntings for money and attention. Most of Wolf doesn’t really believe in ghosts, but deep down inside he really wants to. So this job puts him in a complicated position, as he starts off certain Tristan is a fake, then slowly begins to believe him.
The story is initially focused on Wolf’s investigation, as well as on the developing relationship between the two men. Then it takes an turn as the peaceful hotel with its benign ghosts suddenly is taken over by this murderous ghost intent on causing harm. Suddenly the story takes on more a thriller element as the group must fight for their lives and figure out how to get rid of this evil spirit. I enjoyed this development and felt it helped carry the story to a new level. There were some times honestly I didn’t totally follow what was going on, like during the big battle scene. And I am not sure I completely understood why the ghost was so set on Tristan, rather than Gidget who caused her appearance in the first place. Or even what the ghost really wanted. So I think there are some details that could have been more clearly explained. But overall I enjoyed this shift in the story and thought it kept things moving along nicely.
I also felt like things with Tristan’s family needed a little more wrapping up. After the early part of the book, they aren’t really mentioned again. But what is happening with their investigation? Wolf says he is going to give them their money back, but aren’t they going to still be wanting to get rid of Tristan? What will stop them from hiring someone else? I would have liked to see that loose end resolved.
But despite these small issues, this was a really enjoyable story. Wolf and Tristan are both great, well developed characters. I found them fun and sexy together, and especially enjoyed the somewhat awkward Tristan finding happiness and love with Wolf. I think this is a great start to a new series and I am really excited to see where Ford takes things from here.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.