Reviewed by Tori (Vicki)
SERIES: Phantom Fixers #1
AUTHOR: Vivien Dean
NARRATOR: Simon Ferrar
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 4 hours, 48 minutes
RELEASE DATE: November 21st, 2017
A Phantom Fixers Story
With love and ghosts, the challenge is figuring out what’s real.
Software engineer Cruz Guthrie needs money for his sister’s cancer treatments. He needs it so badly he’s willing to stand in for a ghost hunter friend and investigate a millionaire’s supposed specters. It should be an easy gig—after all, nobody thinks the haunting is real.
Neurological researcher Brody Weber is furious that Cruz would take advantage of Brody’s father. But his mind changes when spirits manifest—and he realizes Cruz genuinely wants to help. When they learn the paranormal activity centers on Brody, Cruz is willing to fight to free Brody from the entities determined to make his life miserable. With a little help from friends and family—both living and dead—they must figure out why Brody is attracting spirits and how to banish them. Only then can they pursue a future together.
This is the story of Cruz and Brody. Cruz is very family oriented, coming from a large and close-knit family. Both parents are still together, and his siblings are all fairly young. One of his sisters is recovering from lukemia, and the whole family has rallied around her. Cruz is working hard as a software engineer to help care for his sick sister, and help his family financially. He doesn’t live at home, but seems to spend a lot of time at the family house. Brody on the other hand, has been raised by his father after the death of his mother when he was a child. He grew up with money, but with just his father, he seems pretty lonely. He’s dedicated to his job as a researcher, and has little time for family or romance. He doesn’t live at home either, but visits his dad as often as possible.
So Brody’s dad, Loren, thinks his big old house is haunted. And he hires a man named Etienne to come rid him of the ghosts. Etienne is not able to find any ghosts! Loren calls him back a second time, with the same results, but Loren is convinced there are ghosts and tries one more time. Unfortunately by the time he calls Etienne for a third try, Etienne has had his ass handed to him by something spooky, and is a bit damaged. But. Etienne offer Cruz, his best friend, the job of sweeping Loren’s house for ghosts, and possibly evicting them. Yes, Cruz needs the money, but he feels like he’s a fraud, since this isn’t really his thing. But he agrees, and Etienne gives him some training.
Off Cruz goes to Loren’s, and in comes a pissed off Brody, who is convinced Cruz, via Etienne, is taking advantage of his father. Which he kinda is. As soon as Brody comes on the scene, the ghostly activity occurs, convincing Cruz and Loren that there are ghost. But when Cruz does his sweeps of the house, he can’t find anything. Brody finally comes clean and admits HE is the one that is haunted.
On one hand we have the ghost issue. Brody has a couple of hitchhikers that need to be removed, and Cruz is determined to help him, with the assistance of Etienne. Then we have the growing romantic connection between Cruz and Brody. The ghost issue bring them together initially, and keeps them close as they work to free Brody.
So I mostly liked the paranormal part of the story, but the big thing that happens at the end, the thing we spend the whole time waiting for, was a let down. There was a big set up, then…. it fizzled. I almost missed what happened. There were holes here and there in the plot, things that seemed like a big deal early, then weren’t. Cruz takes Brody to meet Etienne, and something happens that didn’t seem like a big thing, but it sent Brody and Cruz running. The explanation for why Brody has his hitchhikers was pretty vague… Now the romance part, I liked better. I like how much Cruz cared for Brody, he’s very much the care-giver, both to his family and now to Brody. Etienne as well. I liked seeing Brody blossom under the care of Cruz. I liked how they went from un-trusting strangers, to friends, to lovers. I will say I didn’t get the whole secret thing, I didn’t see it being the big deal that Cruz makes it out to be, and apparently Brody didn’t see it either, since his reaction was pretty calm. But otherwise the romance worked for me.
I used to read a ton of books by Vivien Dean. One of my favorite vampire series ever, was co-written by Vivien, under the pen-name Jamie Craig. I’ve kinda lost track of her over the last few years and haven’t read much by her. I was happy to see this one on our review list, and I did enjoy it. Yes, I had issues here and there, but if I overlook that, I liked the story. It made me want to go back and read some of my old favorites, and see what I have missed from this author. I like her writing style, there was something light about this even though it was a paranormal story with spooky ghosts. Overall I enjoyed this book, although I wish I had read it instead of listening to it…
I didn’t really care for the narration on this book! Simon Ferrar is not a narrator I am familiar with, so maybe it’s a style thing, or maybe it was this particular book, but I had issues. I swear the pronunciation of Loren changed throughout the book, and Etienne’s accent didn’t sound New Orleans to me. Admittedly I’m not an expert on accents, but it felt off. I also noticed there was some background hissing during the narration, and I could tell when parts weren’t recorded consecutively. Maybe parts were pieced in to fix things, I don’t know how it works but there were times that the quality of the recording varied. I did like his voices for Cruz and Brody, and I was able to tell them apart easily, and his voices for Cruz’s female family was fine, which can be hard to do for a male narrator. So I guess it wasn’t bad, but the things that bothered me, bothered me enough to distract me from the story.