Reviewed by Carissa
TITLE: Restless Spirits
SERIES: Restless Spirits #1
AUTHOR: Jordan L. Hawk
PUBLISHER: Widdershins Press
LENGTH: 218 pages
After losing the family fortune to a fraudulent psychic, inventor Henry Strauss is determined to bring the otherworld under control through the application of science. All he needs is a genuine haunting to prove his Electro-Séance will work. A letter from wealthy industrialist Dominic Gladfield seems the answer to his prayers. Gladfield’s proposition: a contest pitting science against spiritualism, with a hefty prize for the winner.
The contest takes Henry to Reyhome Castle, the site of a series of brutal murders decades earlier. There he meets his rival for the prize, the dangerously appealing Vincent Night. Vincent is handsome, charming…and determined to get Henry into bed.
Henry can’t afford to fall for a spirit medium, let alone the competition. But nothing in the haunted mansion is quite as it seems, and soon winning the contest is the least of Henry’s concerns.
For the evil stalking the halls of Reyhome Castle wants to claim not just Henry and Vincent’s lives, but their very souls.
Vincent Night and Henry Strauss both are in a tough spot. After witnessing the death of his mentor, Vincent finds himself unable to perform séances–and now he could very well lose the shop that his mentor set up. Henry, on the other hand, has come very close to proving that he can use science and not trickery or physic power to vanish ghosts–only to be told that his machines are useless without any evidence to back his theories up.
Both men are offered a chance to prove their worth in the halls of Reyhome Castle, a haunted mansion that is in need of a de-ghosting. To the man best able to prove their method most effective goes $500 and the backing of Dominic Gladfield, a wealthy industrialist with a ghost problem. Vincent would rather never see a ghost again, but can’t let his mentor’s work–and the last connection he has to the man–go. Henry knows this will be the making of him–but only if he can get the proof of his theories. But both of them never counted on just how restless–and dangerous–the spirits of Reyhome Castle are. Or how drawn Vincent and Henry are to each other.
You’d think by now I would know not to read ghost stories…only, I find them all so fascinating. Probably too fascinating, because I have been jumping at shadows for the last week. As I knew I would. But did that stop me from reading this book? No, sir, it did not. Why? Because it is Jordan L. Hawk, silly! (I may be a bit of a fangirl for this woman and her awesome writing. Even if she posses the unerring ability to scare my fancy panties right off my tushie.)
So with the protective application of daylight reading, pillow-forts, and kitty guardians in place, I was able to get through this book unharmed. And if I keep getting the feeling that someone is watching–and judging–me…well that is probably the cats. Right?
I really liked the combination of physical and spectral threats in this book. Because while you don’t really have any doubts that Reyer was one evil ghosty, the uncertainty that he might not be the only one trying to do our heroes in, made for a nice, dangerous, mystery. Anyone could be out to get our guys, and never knowing what was around the next corner–be is man or ghost–made everything all the more tense.
Plus all that uncertainty was doing wonderful things to Henry and Vicent. Because every time they would find themselves unable to resist their own special brand of tension, something would happen that would throw them closer together…only to yank them back. I would have been annoyed by the whole yes/no aspect of their relationship if it wasn’t so fun to watch. But, then again, I’ve always been a sucker for love stories where common sense dictates you run as far in the other direction from that man as possible–only to find yourself pushed up against a wall or a door and unable to disengage your lips from theirs.
There are several really nice twists in this story–which I of course would never spoil for you. I might have guessed a few of them a bit before they were revealed, it was nonetheless nice to be proved right. Nothing is ever as it seems in this book, and I liked the slow unfolding of truth–and that you had to take the whole whole ride before everything finally fits. But I also like that I can tell this is going to be a book that I can reread again, despite now knowing the ‘truth’–because the characters were so relatable, and so well written. Sometimes mysteries can lose some of their shine once you figure everything out, but here the story isn’t so much about the answer as it is about the characters, and us wanting to get to know them better.
And I can only hope that the second book in this series comes out sooner rather than later, because Vincent and Henry are definitely on my MCs I Love list. I can’t wait to see what happens to these guys next.