by Linda Fallon, historical/paranormal (2003)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7431-X
Linda Fallon is a pseudonym for Linda Jones. Shades Of Midnight has an interesting premise of two ghost hunters falling in love again. I enjoy reading about the methods of ghost-hunting in late 1800s America but everything else about this story is more like Slimer's bachelor party rather than Egon and Janine's wedding day. Ghostbusters fans, you may know what I'm talking about.
Eve Abernathy has a problem. Her house is haunted by two ghosts who first make love loudly and vigorously in every ghostly manner you can think of before the male ghost violently killing the female ghost in a replay of the moment they die. Having dabbled in some ghost-hunting herself, she has a list of ghost hunters, sorry, "paranormal experts" she can call on for aid, but somehow every other guy is away or indisposed. She has no choice but to call on Lucien Thorpe, the man she almost married until he left her at the altar. He has a good excuse: he forgot about the wedding until three days later. So as they watch ghosts boinking while trying to solve the mystery of the deaths in the house, they fall in love again. Cool.
Actually, it's not that cool. The biggest problem of this story is the author's reliance on sex as a means to sort out emotional issues that need to be addressed. For a second time romance to work, I need to see that Lucien must realize that it is just not done to neglect the wife when he is absorbed in the work. Forgetting the wedding day? Hello? If he can forget such an event that will bind him to the woman he supposedly love above all else, what's to stop him from forgetting her birthdays? And anniversaries? Everything, in fact? Being married to this idiot will be a big migraine. He will forget to do his share of the housework, heck, I won't be surprised if he doesn't come home one day because he "forgot". For this romance to work, I need to see him understand that he cannot be so self-absorbed, not when he is bringing someone else into his life. It is not fair to Eve.
But he doesn't even apologize to her over the wedding fiasco. His attitude is that if he screws her long enough, she'll miraculously understand that they are meant together forever. I adore beta geeks. Give me however an alpha geek with an insufferable sense of self-entitlement, however, and I'd love to make a ghost out of his wee-wee.
Eve has issues. She wants to be a normal woman. Marrying an "I see dead people" man is not the key to normalcy. Also, since she has the right to be angry at the man who forgot their wedding day and then expects her to kiss him and assume that everything is okay, I let her behave childishly for the first eighty pages. But then she really grates on my nerves because not only she doesn't stop whining, she starts contradicting herself. She will go on and on, imagining how Lucien hugs her and kisses her soooo hot and the way he looks at her as if he loves her soooo much, and then she whines that it's just too bad, he doesn't love her so she must never show him that she cares even, like, you know, she hates him! Huh? Huh?
But of course, thanks to Great Amazing Cleansing Sex That Evaporate Our Brain Cells, these issues are swept under the carpet in favor of bed-rattling orgasms. In the end, everything is okay, because the sex is good. The sex is good, that means they love each other and they will be happy forever!
Lucien may be likable if he isn't so self-absorbed that he expects the world to stop for him when he's preoccupied with other things. It's a shame that in the end Eve seems to see this as a virtue to commend him rather than a source of heartbreak. Eve is problematic as a childish and permanently petulant woman, but at least she has an excuse: Lucien's self-absorbed nature and his arrogant assumption that he can shag Eve into seeing the light make him an unlikeable twit to me.
It is so much easier to envision Eve two years down the road, screaming at her husband for forgetting to pick up the kids from school and Lucien shrugging it off because, as he is wont to do, he is on an interesting case, so why the hell can't the woman understand? Hey, wife, come play with his ding-dong and uxoria will descend onto the house and everything will be fine again. Maybe Eve will murder Lucien and their ghosts will haunt the house as a morality tale of overlooking major issues before taking the plunge for the next couple in this author's paranormal series to dwell on.
Either way, the romance's ghost in Shades Of Midnight.
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