Story Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars
Narrator: Noah Michael Levine
Length: 8 hours and 35 minutes
As a special agent in the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit in D.C., Rain Christiansen has made a life for himself as different from his hippie upbringing and his family’s belief in auras and life energy as he can with his sterile, ordered life working for “the man.” So when he begins seeing ghosts, it’s the height of irony and definitely does not fit his plans, nor the cold, hard logic he lives by. Unfortunately, there was one ghost he couldn’t ignore and his failed attempt to give her parents closure almost costs him his job and lands him loaned out to help with cold cases. When Rain chooses the case of a missing girl named Amy, he’s forced to work with his ex, Daniel “Danny” McKenna. Between the ghost of their four-year relationship, the ghost of Ethan (a pierced, sullen teen who acts as Rain’s spirit guide), and the ghost of old feelings, resentments, and buried truth surrounding Amy’s disappearance, Rain has his hands full coming to terms with who he is, what he wants, and where his future lies.
P.S. I Spook You is an amusing, second-chance romance with complex MCs, characters, and motivations. As the book centers on Rain’s journey and emotional growth, it is told from his POV so the reader gets an unfiltered view of his character from beginning to end. Rain is closed-off, impatient, sarcastic, a bit judgmental and selfish, and at times hard to like. However, since he’s been convinced for the past few years that he’s going crazy and trying to medicate himself out of seeing ghosts, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for him even as readers may roll their eyes at his contradictory behavior—from lamenting not taking his pills so he wouldn’t see ghosts, then consciously doing the same thing the next day, to within minutes of meeting Danny telling him that he wants to keep things professional and giving the impression he’s moved on, yet feeling hurt and slighted when Danny does the same.
Although the reader doesn’t get Danny’s POV, the story fleshes out his character via Rain’s growing awareness of his own shortcomings and conversations between Rain and Danny that glaringly illustrate the complexity of people and relationships, particularly how they can be together for years, even love one another, and still not be a couple. Though Rain and Danny were together for four years, neither man exhibited much trust in the other and shared very little of their personal selves. Rain sums up their relationship best when he says:
“Both of us so determined to go at life alone that neither of us could unbend enough to let the other in. Both so determined our relationship would fail that we were afraid to let it begin.”
Though the mystery is interesting, at its core, P.S. I Spook You is focused on the romantic aspect of the story, sometimes to the detriment of the case; there are enough inconsistencies with the timeline and aspects of the investigation that I was pulled out of the story. The paranormal aspect gets more attention and is pretty cool, with the differences between ghosts and how they present themselves an engaging puzzle. However, as this seems to be a standalone, this variability, lack of explanation, and inconsistencies with how long and if/how Rain sees ghosts and is affected by them turns the paranormal element into little more than a vehicle to get Rain to open up and learn about himself that changes to fit the emotion or character development the author wants to convey.
Overall, Noah Michael Levine does a good job with the narration. Although he is a new-to-me narrator, it is clear he is an experienced voice actor, as his character voices and performances are mostly very good. . . with the exception of Rain. As the book is told from Rain’s POV, his is the narration voice as well, and for me, they weren’t always a good fit. There is nothing wrong with Levine’s voice, but for me, it just didn’t always fit well with Rain’s character, especially at the beginning. Rain is sarcastic and uses jokes as shield and sometimes Levine’s delivery was a bit stiff and detracted from the impact of the words, although to be fair, this is less the case as the book goes on. However, there are times when it is hard to tell when Levine is narrating text, conveying Rain’s inner thoughts, or speaking dialogue. The disconnect between how well Levine can perform the other voices and make them sound natural, but loses the distinctness between Rain’s voice and text, was distracting (and made some of the sex scenes kinda funny). Additionally, at times, I felt his pacing was a bit slow and too deliberate, but since I review audio books at their initial speed and am a picky listener, it’s probably not as noticeable at higher speeds. All in all, if you’re looking for an enjoyable audio book with good narration, complex but relatively low angst relationship development, a bit of suspense, and hot sex with a flawed, impatient medium who is rude to ghosts and knowingly makes bad choices then P.S. I Spook You will provide a fun listen.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.