Erato Publishing, PB, $13.95, 312 pages, ISBN 978-0-9974326-4-0
As the by-line shows, this will be a different—and special—MBR. It’s not within our usual purview of crime and punishment, or murder and mayhem, nor even an exploration of the dark side of human nature. Instead, it’s a goose-pimple inducing paranormal ghost and romance story which takes place at an addiction treatment center in Middletown, New York. It’s a place that was once an institution for the criminally insane. And because it’s for all of the ladies in the audience who aren’t hard-boiled crime enthusiasts, June Lynn McKenna has gallantly offered a woman’s perspective . . . so-you-know-who doesn’t screw-it-up.
Spirits of the Heart, by Frances Brown writing as Claire Gem, is part of her ongoing Haunted Voices series, and is, in our opinion, the best one so far. It begins when Laura Horton returns from grad school in North Carolina to Middletown, New York; the place where she was born and raised. Laura’s got a new degree, a new job as an addiction counselor, and not a dollar to her name. She does have a plan though, to move into a spare room at her high school friend Angie’s house, where she lives with her boyfriend, Miller Stanford. Then, after Laura gets a paycheck or two, she’ll find her own apartment and move out. But . . . as every writer of fiction knows . . . the easiest way to make God laugh, is to make plans. When Laura rolls into town flat broke, her car coasting on fumes, expecting a warm reunion with her gal-pal, she’s met at the door by a grumpy, half naked and towel wrapped hunk of manhood. Angie, Miller tells Laura, has moved out, and relocated to Tampa, Florida. Laura is devastated, out of options and stuck in a “puke green, two-story house” that sits right beside the cemetery of the old insane asylum, with a man who doesn’t want her there. Miller and Laura come to an agreement of sorts, she can stay . . . but . . . it’s his house, his rules. Laura tries her best to comply, but their relationship gets more and more strained, as strange, weird and unexplainable events start to happen on a regular basis. Then, Miller sees the ghost of a little girl and thinks he’s losing it. But Laura sees her too, in this vivid, suspenseful and romance-filled novel from the award-winning pen of one of the hottest romance and supernatural fiction writers in the country. Claire Gem’s Spirits of the Heart will keep you glued to each and every page, until your glasses get too steamed to read!
Check my interview with Claire Gem HERE.