LAURA SNYDER: Romances Offer Engaging Stories
"MacGowan's Ghost" (316, Signet Eclipse, $6.99), by Cindy Miles, is one of the best paranormal romances that I have read in a long time.
Gabe McGowan is the owner of a pub in the Highlands -- which happens to be the residence of an eclectic fivesome of amiable ghosts. Gabe and his ancestors grew up knowing these ghosts and called them friends. But when Gabe tries to sell the pub to rid himself of the memories of his ex-wife, the ghosts made sure that they chased away any buyers.
So it was that he contacted American "ghost-whisperer," Allie Morgan, to reason with his spirited friends. Allie soon realizes that Gabe -- not his pub -- is the one who is haunted and she sets out to heal his soul.
There is even a cameo appearance of Ethan and Amelia Munro, the main characters of Miles' previous novel called "Highland Knight."
This book was low on the toe-curling scale, but the story was so fun and engaging that it made me wish I had a ghost of my very own.
Claudia Dain has written the third in her Courtesan series. "The Courtesan's Wager" (355 pages, Berkeley Sensation, $15) is a rather over-priced Regency romance in paperback. Dain is an excellent writer, particularly when it comes to the language of days gone by, but the book itself is a bit long-winded and seems to change direction in the middle.
The plot is irresistible, though, as it involves a young woman, Amelia, the daughter of a duke, trying to get the apple of her eye, Lord Cranleigh to propose. After all, it's not as if he doesn't like her, is it? At Amelia's last count, he had pulled her into a secluded alcove or closet 43 times in the past two years just to kiss her. But he seems determined to avoid marrying her.
In a desperate bid for help, she marshals the aid of ex-courtesan, Lady Sophia Dalby, who devises a plan to make a list of eligible gentlemen and proceeds to have Amelia conduct interviews for the position of her husband.
What follows is a hilarious display of titled nobility vying for the chance to be on Amelia's "list." The competition finally sparks the flame of Cranleigh's attention as he tries to protect her reputation while never really claiming Amelia for his own.
Funny, if a bit slow, "The Courtesan's Wager" garners a two on the toe-curling scale.
Contact Whispering Pines writer Laura Snyder at email@example.com.
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