Reviewed by PizzyGirl
SERIES: Art Medium Book One
AUTHOR: E.J. Russell
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 132 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 12, 2018
Two men haunted by more than the past.
Painter Stefan Cobbe was homeless and debt-ridden after the death of his wealthy partner, but the worst loss of all was his artistic inspiration. After two years of nothing, he’s offered patronage by an eccentric gallery owner and starts to produce again, canvas after canvas. The only problem? He can’t remember painting any of them—not one single brushstroke.
Luke Morganstern’s reputation as an art-fraud investigator is in tatters. He can’t afford to turn down any job, even a lousy one for an anonymous client who sends him after an unidentified forger in a remote cabin in Oregon. When the alleged forger turns out to be Stefan, the man he never stopped loving, Luke’s professional ethics are stretched beyond the breaking point.
As the two men take tentative steps toward reconciliation, evidence begins to mount that they’re not alone in the woods. Someone—or something—is watching. Something with sinister plans for them both. To escape, Luke must overcome his suspicions and Stefan must trust Luke with his deepest fears. Otherwise they could forfeit their relationship, their sanity—and their lives.
Publisher’s note: This is a heavily revised and significantly expanded reprint of Northern Light. The second book in the Art Medium series, Tested In Fire, is a first edition. Both are sold together in both ebook and print collections.
I am not 100% certain how to explain how I felt about this story. I am usually a huge E.J. Russell fan but this one wasn’t my favorite. Oh don’t get me wrong, I found it to be a tense and interesting ghost story. It was bit of a hunting missed with a bit of a possession mixed with a bit of a reincarnation/second chance story. And not just the obvious second chance between the MCs either, but the one from the past being mirrored by the present as well. The mystery is what kept me going when I felt like I was losing the thread of the present day romance.
I had a hard time with the romance. I felt like maybe I needed more backstory to really understand the characters and why they acted as they did. Well, mostly just Luke. He had periods of high emotion that felt like they came out of nowhere. No here is also where I have to admit, I struggled to get into this one at first, so maybe I missed some details that would have made this work better for me.
I personally never really felt the chemistry between Luke and Stefan because I thought the reunion and re-romance was overshadowed by the mystery and the ghost story. I was way more invested in the outcome of the past romance than I was in the reunion of these two men in the present. Maybe it is also partially because I never really liked Luke and how he treated Stefan and never really felt he ever truly changed or apologized fully.
It could just be me. I think this one was entertaining enough to want to read book 2 and to recommend that you give this one a try yourself. However, I like other E.J. Russell works much better.