Laying a Ghost by Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow
When John McIntyre sees Nick Kelley step off the island ferry, he’s instantly attracted, and fairly certain that he knows what Nick is keeping secret, because he’s been doing it himself for years. When he discovers Nick’s real secret he’s drawn into a world he never knew existed, one haunted by grief and guilt and ghosts. In the shadowed world of the spirits, Nick’s power is all that the ghosts have to help them. But Nick is still mourning the death of his lover in an accident he believes he caused, and John’s determined to keep their relationship secret.
It’s going to take a lot more than attraction and really good sex to solve their problems but will they be lucky? Or will one week be all they have before they’re left alone again?
[I like this cover a lot. Simple, no naked men/chests or headless torsos. Though the models aren’t what I imagined, I forgot so fast it didn’t matter.]
As a fan of other work of the authors’, I really wanted to like this book. The setting and plot all seemed to create an interesting and thought provoking story. Unfortunately the execution needs some serious work and I struggled to finish this. I put it down several times and although I was motivated to get to the end, it wasn’t always easy. The pacing is off, the characters are shallow, and the plot seems to meander without a clear focus. There are hints of interest and the main couple is nice, unfortunately not interesting enough to continue with the series. However other readers may feel differently and want to give this a try.
John McIntyre and Nick Kelley fall in love at first sight. Unfortunately love is not that easy for these two as Nick has a secret past, he’s psychic, and John is a closeted homosexual. Given the close knit nature of the community, these two have a lot of hurdles to get over to be together including ranting ministers, homophobic communities, and angry family ghosts.
The plot is somewhat generic and often makes fun of itself for being cheesy, which is appropriate and not necessarily good. The actual focus of the story seems to be lost and meanders about without a real driving force, which is part of the pacing problem. Since the two men fall in love instantly, their relationship has very little internal conflict. They’re determined to be together somehow so instead the story focuses on external conflicts in the community. However none of these conflicts are really the focus and for the most part, easily resolved. There is the conflict with the mostly homophobic community but other than a few vague angry yelling matches, nothing comes of this. There is the problem with Nick’s psychic ability but he seems to lay each ghost to rest pretty easily and the later scenes in the book regarding the ghost of John’s father is ridiculous, eye rolling and completely cheesy. So unfortunately there is no strong guiding force in the story and thus the writing and plot wanders from scene to scene without real purpose.
Not helping matters is the weak writing. The story and characters constantly tell the reader what is going on so they don’t fail to miss any nuances. The characters often dismiss problems and clichés by acknowledging such and then explaining why it’s ok this time. The setting is by turns overdone and erroneous. The book makes a point of trying to infuse a Scottish island feel but the dialogue and word choice of the islanders felt forced and overdone. Anyone traveling to that area would know the setting detail is an author’s impression rather than intimate knowledge. Thus while the book tries hard to continually give a setting, it often injects false steps and improbably ridiculous stereotypes that don’t fit. Such as the theme nights in such a small town that only occasionally sees tourists. This was an amusing detail but felt completely false and overdone. Additionally the community itself is rather flat and stays within very predictable bounds from the religious ranting minister to the penny pinching market owner and even gossipy, vindictive females. Any classic small town stereotype you can think of is used to very little positive effect here.
The main characters themselves are interesting but they lose this with their instant love. John is a small town fisherman that lives in a family home and does odd jobs around town. He’s deeply closeted since of course the community would never approve of a known son being gay so his instant pursuit and love of an outsider seems jarring. Nick is not much better as an equally flat character, supposedly a wary and tortured soul ridden with guilt over the death of his best friend and occasional lover. For all of Nick’s issues and past problems, he also falls in with John too easily. The two men have vigorous sex right away and thus are deeply in love from that moment on. The characters attempt to play this off with long internal monologues about how it may be a cliché but it’s still true. This just highlights that even the authors’ know the relationship is cheesy but attempt to explain it away.
Ultimately this book came across as boring and unevenly paced. The beginning is heavy and filled with a plethora of unimportant and distracting details, lengthening the opening scene to an unending information dump of every character and setting. From there the book picks up some when the men are interacting and the first graveyard scene is particularly effective. Unfortunately the book then drags in several places, only to pick up slightly, and then drag again. The relationship between the men has numerous holes and really questions the ability to stay together, just as the psychic issue is ill conceived as it jumps from problem ghost to problem ghost with an almost never ending stream. I certainly liked parts of the book and I finished to the end but this story would have benefited from tight, careful editing with more attention to what detail is important and authentic to the story versus random and distracting. Although I wouldn’t recommend this book, some readers won’t mind the problems and the instant love with numerous sex scenes certainly speaks to the romantic.
Get it HERE!
2 thoughts on “Laying a Ghost by Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow”
Good review, Kassa. You’re so in-depth! It’s almost like a writing workshop critique. If I were the authors, I’d be very interested in this feedback.
Now this, “So unfortunately there is no strong guiding force in the story and thus the writing and plot wanders from scene to scene without real purpose,” would drive me completely nuts as a reader, so I’d better steer clear of this book.
Thanks again for the very informative review!
I’ve found that I need a strong focus for books. I don’t care what that focus is – angst, internal conflict, external, lies, murder, etc. As long as it has one, a purpose the book is moving towards I’m good.
When the book seems to be a bunch of scenes thrown together, I wonder why do I bother? This just kind of triggered that reflex.
Thanks for commenting!