Back in October I was really in the mood for some ghost stories and author Simone St. James's books caught my eye. Although the romantic relationships in these really bothered me, I was mostly happy with these as they filled my need to read something creepy. I also really enjoyed the time period that these are set in.
An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery
Content: Implied sex
After her uncle
Toby, a renowned ghost hunter, is killed in a fall off a cliff, Oxford
student Jillian Leigh must travel to the seaside village of Rothewell to
pack up his belongings. Almost immediately, unsettling incidents - a
book left in a cold stove, a gate swinging open on its own - escalate
into terrifying events that convince Jillian an angry spirit is trying
to enter the house and is haunting the woods around Blood Moon Bay. If
Toby discovered something sinister during his investigations, was his
death no accident?
This is the first book I've tried by this author and I enjoyed it a lot. It had the creepy ghost story element to it that I loved. I do wish there had been a bit more of it though. I felt like it was overshadowed a little by the murder plot which I thought was too easy to figure out. The best thing about this book and the thing that kept me reading was the whole atmosphere of it. I enjoyed the setting, the characters, and the creepy ghosts enough to give this 4 stars.
There is a fair amount of romance in this book. I didn't mind the romance in general, but there was a certain aspect of it that I wasn't crazy about, namely the nature of the relationship from the beginning. It didn't seem too convincing as anything more than insta-love, or maybe lust in this case. I was happy with the way the romance ended up in the end though.
I've heard that the author's first book, The Haunting of Maddy Clare has more ghosts in it so I think I will try that one next.
The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery
Content: A sex scene
Sarah Piper's lonely,
threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to
assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis-rich, handsome, scarred by World
War I, and obsessed with ghosts- has been summoned to investigate the
spirit of nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is haunting the barn
where she committed suicide. Since Maddy hated men in life, it is
Sarah's task to confront her in death. Soon Sarah is caught up in a
desperate struggle. For Maddy's ghost is real, she's angry, and she has
powers that defy all reason. Can Sarah and Alistair's assistant, the
rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, discover who Maddy was, whereshe came
from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance-before she destroys
The Haunting of Maddy Clare was a good but not great read for me. I was somewhat disappointed for a couple of reasons, the first being that although there were a lot of ghost scenes in this book, they were not really all that creepy to me. I found the ghost scenes in An Inquiry into Love and Death to be creepier, even if there were fewer of them. The second thing I disliked was the insta-love/lust. I wasn't crazy about the romance in An Inquiry into Love and Death, but it was even worse here. The reason I had an issue with the romance so much in this book is because of the first romantic (really not romantic) encounter and how it was portrayed.
*Minor spoilers here so skip down to the next paragraph if you don't want to read about the love scene...The love interest enters Sarah's room in the middle of the night, says nothing to her, and roughly thrusts himself upon her. As soon as he's done he apologizes, saying he won't do it again. Sarah actually tells him she's glad that he did, even though she thinks he has probably just used her. She seems to blame it on his PTSD, which still doesn't make it ok! Seriously ladies, don't ever be ok with someone using you for any reason. This scene was rather disturbing to me. He never asked her permission and up to this point he had hardly even spoken to her. He barely knew her. And even though she kissed him back and raised up her night gown I felt like some verbal communication was needed.
Even though I was disappointed in some things about this book, there are things I like about this author's writing style. Her story telling is excellent and I like the setting of the 1920s a lot. It's a nice departure from the Victorian and Regency era historicals that I've been reading, despite the fact that I feel at times the characters are a bit too modern in their morals for the setting. I like ghost stories so I may get around to reading more from this author. I do have a couple more of them on my to-read list.
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