Author: E.J. Russell
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Rating: 4.25 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 05/16/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Gay Fiction, Gay Romance, Paranormal
What price would you pay to rescue a friend from hell?
For Logan Conner, the answer is almost anything. Guilt-ridden over trapping his college roommate in a ghost war rooted in Portland’s pioneer past, Logan has spent years searching for a solution. Then his new boyfriend, folklorist Riley Morrel, inadvertently gives him the key. Determined to pay his debt—and keep Riley safe—Logan abandons Riley and returns to Portland, prepared to give up his freedom and his future to make things right.
Crushed by Logan’s betrayal, Riley drops out of school and takes a job on a lackluster paranormal investigation show. When the crew arrives in Portland to film an episode about a local legend of feuding ghosts, he stumbles across Logan working at a local bar, and learns the truth about Logan’s plan.
Their destinies once more intertwined, the two men attempt to reforge their relationship while dodging a narcissistic TV personality, a craven ex-ghost, and a curmudgeonly bar owner with a hidden agenda. But Logan’s date with destiny is looming, and his life might not be the only one at stake.
This book was a roller coaster of emotions and action. I picked this book because I’d read and enjoyed Northern Lights by E.J. Russell. Stumptown Spirits was another excellent story. Russell has a way with words that can truly pull you into the story.
There’s a lot going on in the book, sometimes too much, but at the heart of the story are ex-lovers Riley and Logan. Riley hasn’t gotten over being dumped and hasn’t gotten closure. Riley’s back in Portland working on an episode of the show he works for—Haunted to the Max—one of those fake haunted house shows.
The location of the supposed haunting Russell chose is based on true reportings. Like Russell I live in the Pacific Northwest and the story of the Witch’s Castle and Danford Balch is a true one and there have been reports of unexplained happenings. Russell takes these tales and spins a magnificent and mysterious story.
Riley and Logan are interesting characters as are the supporting characters. Russell created many fully drawn people here and everyone had their purpose. From the arrogant to star of the show to Logan’s boss at a bar where the book gets its title—Stumptown Spirit.
Though I loved the book there are a few things that niggled at me. Firstly was Logan and Riley’s relationship. There wasn’t a lot of romance in the book, which isn’t a bad thing, but that meant I before Logan and Riley get back together I didn’t feel their bond. However, once the men did kiss and make up I was fully invested in their relationship.
Russell excels at showing instead of telling but there were times the strong prose got in the way of emotions. This is more of a personal issue though, so it shouldn’t stop anyone from trying this book.
The first quarter of the book dragged then got faster and by the time I was at the halfway mark I didn’t want to put the book down. The final action scenes and denouement of the paranormal tale was downright amazing. I can’t say much without spoiling things but there was more than one surprise thrown at me.
Overall this was an incredible ghost story with a sweet romance thrown in.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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