I was enchanted by the idea of a blend of historical and paranormal romance so I eagerly pounced on this one when it came to my attention. I knew it was the third book in a series and gave it a try even though I haven’t read the first two books. It worked out really well because the tie to the others seemed to be just the shared backdrop and not a story thread or characters. This turned out to be a great read and met up to expectation nicely- and then some. Along with the historical, paranormal and romance, I also got some mystery too.
The background of the series is the assumption that the world is full of magic from the elements of the earth and its creatures to its people. This is set against the Victorian Era. It’s made clear in the Prologue of the book so the reader knows the general idea when the current story opens.
The story begins when Lady Philomena, the Ghosthunter, is conducting a seance. She is interrupted by an attractive shape shifting baronet who scopes out her skills and then makes her an offer to take his family situation on as her next commission. Sir Nicodemus Wulfson doesn’t believe she really sees ghosts, but he believes her charlatan act is good enough to fool his ailing brother who does. Nico’s brother, Royden, claims to be plagued in his sleep by angry ghosts who haunt the family home, Grimspell Castle.
Nico just wants his brother at peace so he can continue to search for the werewolf who murdered his late fiancée. Nico was acquitted of the crime, but the villagers are still restless that the murderer goes free as either him or one of his wolf pack. Okay, so he also wants the beautiful lady to come to his home because of the strong visceral attraction he feels for her and the way just being in her presence calms his wolf nature.
Phil is not wealthy even if she is a member of the upper class. She depends on her magical gift to earn her a living. It is both a gift and a curse in that its uniqueness has driven away many friends and lovers leaving many with the impression that she’s crazy or a liar. She knows Sir Nicodemus doesn’t believe her, but it doesn’t take long once she arrives at his awe-inspiring home to convince him. Along with her ghost friend, Tup and her loyal companion Sarah, she is there to discover what has the castle ghosts so riled up that they would haunt Nico’s brother, Royden. She has trouble focusing on her task between her strong mutual attraction with the much younger Nico and the pointed spite of Royden’s young wife along with the obvious adoration she sees in one of his younger pack members to make Phil very aware that Nico’s too young for her and needs to find a suitable bride of his own.
All things come to a head from the paranormal, the mystery and the romantic story lines in a way that brought an exciting conclusion and a delightful epilogue.
As I mentioned, the blended genres created an exciting plot that had my attention from cover to cover. I loved my intro to the author’s well crafted worldbuilding, engaging characters, and the intrigue that led to both a ghostly treasure hunt and a murder mystery to solve along with a passionate May-December romance.
The details of the magical world like Nico’s Enchanted Forest and all the creatures and Were types living around there was as fascinating as the story itself. Those adorable stick people just made me smile. And I loved that Sarah was a snake shifter- so unique!
The characters were great. Phil and Nico were a good pair. She has the hang-ups of being a much older woman and her fear of being accepted for who she is after all her past rejections. In fact, she’s downright stubborn about it, but Nico takes it as a challenge to change her mind. Nico might be young and handsome, but he too worries that he isn’t worthy because of his beast though he doesn’t let it stop him from pursuing his lovely tempting prey. Together though they are not only strongly attracted, but they build each other up and bring out the best in each other. I loved the playfulness and protectiveness of Nico’s wolf for Phil and her strong desire to believe in him even though many clues and the local consensus point to Nico’s guilt. I cracked up when Nico thought she was more experienced than she was and he appreciated how she made him soar with pleasure, but it was all due to the fact that her house was a former brothel and one of the ghosts gives her quite a show at various times so her knowledge is mostly vicarious.
I had such a good time reading this story that I am definitely going back for the other two books and then forging ahead. Again, I loved the blend of genres and felt this is one of the best reads I’ve had highlighting historical, suspense and paranormal romance. I most definitely recommend it to others who love that type of blending too.
My thanks to Sourcebooks and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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