Book Review by Debbie Winkler
Author: Lillian Stewart Carl
Publisher: Wildside Press (January 2006)
ISBN: 0809556618, EAN: 9780809556618
Page Count: 308 pages
Format: paperback, also available in ebook
Target Age Group: adults
My Rating: 4/5 stars, An Entertaining Mystery with a Paranormal Twist!
Amanda Witham is a graduate student working at Virginia’s Melrose Hall. She doesn’t enjoy the heat of her authentic 18th-century clothes, but she does enjoy playing the part of Sally, the plantation owner’s daughter, while she takes tourists around the house. Everything is running smoothly until the archaeologists find a skeleton buried in the garden. That same night, Amanda sees a ghost in the hall and knows that it is James Grant, a dashing British soldier who mysteriously disappeared right before a local battle. Suddenly, Amanda finds herself searching for James Grant instead of working on her thesis. It is true that she hasn’t had a boyfriend in a long while, and who can turn away such a dashing and handsome man? Amanda finds herself romantically involved with a ghost – a ghost who wants to return to his native Scotland.
As Amanda flies to James’ ancestral estate, which was inherited by his cousin upon his death about 150 years ago, Amanda has no idea what to expect. She certainly doesn’t expect the charming Malcolm, who is the spitting image of James. She also doesn’t expect to find such a disparity between James’ version of his death and his cousin, Archibald’s, account. Amanda begins to suspect that James is not quite the hero he has made himself out to be. And, as she falls in love with Malcolm, she knows that she will have to find a way to exorcise James – or join him in the afterlife…
This was a very entertaining paranormal mystery with great characters and a wonderful setting. I enjoyed learning about the Scottish regiments based in Virginia during the Revolutionary War and about that time period in general. The author has a knack for slipping historical background information into the story without boring the reader, which was wonderful. The characters were good – very strong and easy to empathize with. I also enjoyed the sudden plot twist and Amanda’s growing suspicions about James. My only complaint with the book, aside from the cost, of course, was that the ending was quite abrupt. There is a lot of action packed into the last 50 pages or so, which was quite startling considering the slow build up to James’ appearance at the beginning of the book. I would have liked to have seen more time in Scotland and more time between Amanda and Malcolm, rather than falling back on the old ‘love at first sight’ routine. Still, it is a well written book with a nice little mystery that fans of Lillian Stewart Carl will enjoy and people who have never read anything by her should be excited to discover!
This book deals with a love triangle and the lead female is intimate with both men. The author is not overly explicit with the details, but there are some mild descriptions of sex. There are some descriptions of war and battle. This is a murder mystery so, of course, someone dies, and James is a ghost so he died a while ago. There is some violence and mild language. Recommended for readers ages 12 and up.