Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-852-6
Contemporary Paranormal Romance, 2008
Beaudry’s Ghost was previously published by LTDBooks back in 2002. According to the current publisher’s website, this current edition is revised and expanded from the previous edition.
Everything began a year ago when Taylor Brannon discovered a well-preserved Union soldier’s uniform in a trunk in a museum storeroom. The uniform sported an unmistakable bullet hole in the back. A letter confirmed that the owner was shot in the back, but that was after a brutal torture session. Taylor packed the uniform aside to be sent to her brother Troy.
A year later, Troy has passed away and Taylor takes part in a Civil War reenactment in Troy’s place. She’s not too happy to be doing this as she is still grieving for her brother. Meanwhile, these “soldiers” tell the story of the legend of Jared Beaudry, the ghost of a Union soldier of the 10th Ohio Cavalry who still rides the Outer Banks to look for Zachariah Harris, the Confederate soldier who tortured and killed him. Unknown to them, the legend is true. The ghost of the one-armed Jared Beaudry is at that moment watching them along with the ghost of Troy Brannon, with Jared becoming increasingly frustrated to learn that he is watching some actors at play instead of being sent back to the past like he’d hoped.
Jared believes that the only way he can somehow find his way back to his final days to avenge himself is to relive his late battle with his life intact, even if the last battle is a reenactment, so he hops into the body of one fellow named Billy. Unfortunately, his action unleashes a chain event which leads to the possibility that the ghosts of other dead soldiers, including Zachariah, have also hopped into the bodies of the fellows playing them in the reenactment. Suddenly the battle has turned very, very real indeed. Poor Taylor has to find a way to save her fellow reenactors even if it means having to cooperate with Jared when he reveals to her how his single foolhardy act has unleashed something really dire onto everyone there.
While I have my doubts about the possibility of a long-lasting romance developing from the circumstances that Jared and Taylor find themselves in and I don’t believe that the author is successful in selling me that possibility, I find this a most engaging read. The atmosphere is real enough that I feel as if I’m transported onto the battle field myself. Taylor is believable as a woman who is out of her depths most of the time and she’s still pretty smart and likable despite the fact that she’s out of her elements here. Jared is a decent hero too. I like that he doesn’t get too wrapped up in his own issues here.
Still, the two characters are, while likable and memorable enough, quite overshadowed by the sweeping action in the story. The pacing never lets up and I am at the edge of my seat most of the time. The ending can be quite dodgy in that it sets up a sequel more than it resolves some loose ends, but that’s fine with me, really. After all, Beaudry’s Ghost is a thrilling story that doesn’t even let me pause to catch my breath. That’s more than good enough for me.