Author: Brynn Stein
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 09/16/2016
Length: Long Novel (~ 100K+)
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance, Paranormal
Architect Elliot Graham has bought and restored dozens of historic homes to their original splendor. As in his personal life, he loves them and leaves them, selling them off without looking back. But there’s something about the old plantation house he finds in South Carolina—a connection he can’t explain. He feels as though he recognizes the house, as if within its crumbling walls he might find something he doesn’t even realize he’s lost.
Ben Myers had promised his lover and soul mate, Patrick, that he would wait for his return. Ben has kept his word ever since Patrick left him to wait at the plantation house—during the Civil War. For the first time in many long years, Ben is no longer alone, and he reaches out to Elliot in dreams. Elliot tries to convince Ben that Patrick isn’t coming back, and Ben’s devotion is about to change not only his lonely existence, but Elliot’s life as well.
Warning: This review contains spoilers.
I usually strive to write reviews without spoilers but I couldn’t accurately describe my problems with this book without revealing several plot points.
I enjoyed this book a lot in the beginning but by about a quarter in my enjoyment started to wane. Then more and more as I continued. It’s not the writing that’s the problem, I’m a huge fan of Brynn Stein and her imagination shows here. But the plot moves very slowly. It seemed like nothing happens for pages and pages and even when something does happen it’s rather underwhelming.
Elliot is the main character here and the story focuses on him and an old plantation house he purchases in South Carolina. Early on Elliot and his best friend Sheri go to a gay bar and Elliot hooks up with a hot younger guy first in the bathroom and again at Elliot’s place. I (wrongly) assumed that Daniel was going to be Elliot’s love interest. In fact, I thought this for a good part of the book.
One of my first issues was the POVs. I admit I’m a bit of a POV purist and prefer a tight POV limited to main characters. And I hate head hopping. There wasn’t a lot of head hopping here but there is a section presented from Daniel’s POV and then we’re never in his head for the rest of the book. I understand why the author did it but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. And the sections presented in Ben’s POV are written in a present tense. Again, I understand why Stein did this but it pulled me out of the story.
Ben is a ghost and he’s attached to the house Elliot bought because he promised Patrick, his Civil War, lover that he’d wait for him. So he then bonds with Elliot for reasons neither one apparently knows until the end. Elliot and Ben are able to communicate through various means including Ben using a lap top and Elliot visiting him in his dreams. Even though Ben and Elliot fall in love, Elliot still continues sleeping with Daniel. Is it considered cheating if one of a man’s lovers is a ghost? Honestly, I’m not sure, but it did feel a little icky to me. But this was when I thought Elliot and Daniel were going to end up together.
Going back to what I said earlier, I thought the love story was meant to be between Elliot and Daniel, but it wasn’t. The couple in the end is Elliot and Ben because it turns out that Elliot is an ancestor/reincarnation of Patrick. But how can a living person and a ghost be together? They can’t, not in the real world. So how do they end up together? Elliot dies. Yes, the happy ending involves a relatively young man (Elliot’s in his forties) dying and leaving behind his loved ones.
It might be that I’m still dealing with the recent loss of a loved one but I have trouble accepting a character’s death as a good thing. And if Elliot and Ben were always meant to be the main couple why was so much time spent on Elliot and Daniel’s relationship? For crying out loud, Elliot said more than once that he was not interested in a relationship with Daniel and everyone knows that’s code for falling in love in the gay romance world.
I’m not giving this book a negative review below three stars because I believe there are readers who might enjoy it. Stein is a talented author but this one didn’t work for me.
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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