Genre: paranormal contemporary romance. My book has a very different cover, which is nicer. A girl walking a pier in the lake towards the sunset.
Zoë Hoffman is as gentle and romantic as they come, and when she meets the startlingly handsome Alex Nolan, all her instincts tell her to run. But something about him intrigues Zoë, so she encourages Alex to open his mind to the possibility that love isn’t for the foolish.
Alex Nolan is about as bitter and cynical as they come, battling his demons with the help of a whiskey bottle, until he is visited by a mysterious ghost. Has Alex finally crossed over the threshold to insanity?
The ghost doesn’t know who he is, or why he is stuck in the Nolans’ Victorian house. All he knows is that he loved a girl once. And Alex and Zoë hold the key to unlocking the mystery that keeps him trapped there.
After her divorce, Zoë was very glad with her cousin Justine’s offer to start a bed and breakfast together in Friday Harbor. Zoë would do all the cooking, and Justine would take care of the business part of things. Zoë loves cooking and baking, and is very good at it. She has the kind of body a man dreams off, but it always attracts the wrong kind of guy, and she is very insecure about herself. Especially since her husband, who was her best friend in college, left her for another man. Being left is something she is used to, as her father left her with his mother when he moved to another town when her mother ran off. She loves her grandmother dearly, and now that she is getting old, and getting Alzheimer, she is determined to take care of her grandmother. Her father will be no help whatsoever, she knows that.
Justine helps her as much as she can, buying her grandmothers little cottage on the island, and renting it back for free to Zoë, for as long as she needs it. But first, it will have to be renovated to be able to live in it. It has been abandoned for many years, as her grandmother lived on the mainland.
Enter Alex Nolan, the youngest of the Nolan brothers and a successful builder, until his recent divorce and almost bankruptcy when one of his projects fell through. His parents were both alcoholics, and he grew up without love and not expecting anything from anyone, trying to stay apart from other people. Which is why he married Darcy, there was no love lost between them, they were using each other for their own purposes. He is almost an alcoholic himself now, though he does not recognize it yet.
He and his brothers don’t have a strong bond, though it has improved since their young niece Holly came to live with Mark and Sam. Alex has been helping out, renovating Sam’s old Victorian house, and making it liveable for a young girl.
When asked to renovate Zoë’s place, Alex doesn’t want to do it at first. He felt something when he first met Zoë, and he does not want to feel anything. But his brothers are right, he has the time, and he needs the money.
But what makes this book so special, is the ghost it starts with. A ghost with no idea who he was, what he was, and what he is doing stuck in an old house. He cannot leave it without fading away, he has no powers, he just is. Until the day Alex enters the house the first time. There is this connection, and he can follow Alex. At first the ghost is happy, a change of scenery. But he cannot leave Alex, and Alex, well, there is no joy in him. But still, the ghosts learns bits of pieces of Alex’s past, and is getting stronger, getting some of his own memories back. But still no clue who he was, or why he is stuck. And the only power he gets, is that Alex can see and hear him, and that he can annoy Alex.
Then one day, when looking in the mirror, Alex sees his father, and is scared out of his wits. Or perhaps into his wits. He decides to quit drinking, which is not an easy thing to do. Luckily, there is Zoë and the breakfast she feeds him every day before work, which keeps him going. Zoë is attracted to Alex, but she is warned away by Justine, and by Alex himself, who hints that he is not nice, and needs absolute control in bed, he is completely wrong for her. But Zoë doesn’t want to give up that easily. She is going to take her chance, and she is not going to regret it. Her grandmother is getting worse faster than foreseen, and it takes a lot of work, emotionally, to take care of her.
I really liked this book, and especially the original incorporation of the ghost story, the lost love story, and the lesson involved for Alex in all of this. It is hard, growing up with two alcoholics for parents, who fight all the time, and neglect their children. Sam and Mark were older, and did not get the brunt of it all, as they had moved out at the time, leaving Alex behind. Alex has buried his hart deep, he has no expectations of people, expects no kindness, and rarely receives it, until he meets Zoë. Zoë, sunny and optimistic Zoë, even though life was not kind to her as well. I liked Zoë, and the food stuff she made in the book really made me hungry. Those descriptions are very vivid.
Zoë and Alex took time with their relationship; both were careful and took their time getting to know the other one, opening up little by little, but the attraction between them is there. Alex is still handling the past parts of his divorce of Darcy, he needs to find a new home as Darcy is selling their old one. And he is still having occasional sex with Darcy, hard and impersonal and convenient, something Zoë can never understand. But when he was falling for Zoë, and he did not even know it yet, he could not do in anymore. He even saw how bad a husband he has been for Darcy, and he apologized.
I was very impressed with the progress Alex made in this book, turning from a hard almost alcoholic into a real man, who can take care of someone else, and can be nice to an old lady. And Zoë dared to venture out of her own comfort zone, taking a chance on Alex, even though she is warned not to. They were great together.
I am looking forward to the next book, which I suspect will feature Justine, Zoë’s cousin and best friend, as all the Nolan brothers are taken now. She is a very interesting character, very into sports and health, and she has been dating Dwayne from the biker church for almost a year before she broke up with him. She does not want any permanent relationship, she wants to be free. And there is a hint of Wiccan in her past I am very curious about.
© 2012 Reviews by Aurian