Sommersgate House by Kristen Ashley
Series: Ghosts and Reincarnation #1
Also in this series: Fairytale Come Alive, Lacybourne Manor, Penmort Castle, Lucky Stars
Publication Date: January 2, 2017
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance
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Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge
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Douglas Ashton is the cold and unfeeling owner of the sprawling, gothic Victorian Mansion, Sommersgate House. Julia Fairfax is his stubborn American sister-in-law. After tragedy strikes, Douglas and Julia are forced to live together at Sommersgate and raise their newly-orphaned nieces and nephew.
Douglas has no desire to raise his dead sister's children nor does he want the distraction of the tempting Julia living under his roof. Julia is struggling with grief and trying to make a go in a new country without much help from impossibly handsome but even more impossibly remote Douglas. Not to mention, she has to deal with the active hostility of Douglas's frosty, Attila-the-Hun-in-a-skirt mother, Monique.
Douglas decides the best way to give the children what they need, get his mother to behave and give himself what he wants is to marry Julia. When he tells her (yes, tells her) she will be his wife, Julia thinks Douglas is (probably) insane. And anyway, she's decided if she ever has another husband (since the last one wasn't so great), he was going to be short, balding, have a paunch and worship the ground she walks on (none of these characteristics define Douglas in the slightest).
One more thing, Sommersgate House is haunted by the ghosts of the man who built it and the woman who was the love of his life. They both died mysteriously at Sommersgate months after it was finished. When they did, a curse settled on the house making it seem strangely alive. And the only way for the beautiful but frightening house to rid itself of this curse is for its owner to find true love.
After the death of her brother and sister-in-law, Julia Fairfax is devastated. However, she doesn’t have time to grieve. She has two nieces and a nephew that she is now responsible for. While Julia wants to curl into a ball and cry her eyes out, she has to be strong for her brother’s children. When they were alive, her brother and his wife asked her if she would take the children if anything ever happened to them. Julia, of course, agreed immediately. What she didn’t expect was that she would only get joint custody of them. She also doesn’t expect the stipulation that the kids be raised at Sommersgate House in England.
The last thing Douglas Ashton wants to do is be a guardian (and half a guardian at that) to three ravaged children. He also doesn’t want their aunt anywhere near him. For years he has thought of Julia, but he never did anything about it. Now she’s living in his house as are his nieces and nephew. While Douglas will certainly take care of all their monetary needs, the last thing he wants to do is parent the children. So he goes about his life as usual, always working, always out of town. Julia doesn’t like this much and tells him so, which shocks him. Not many people stand up to Douglas, but Julia Fairfax is obviously one of those people.
Julia wants as much stability for the children as possible. With Douglas gone from Sommersgate House for days–even weeks–at a time, parenting the children has landed directly on her slim, grieving shoulders. She’s always had a crush on Douglas and she wasn’t going to let his off-putting manner distract her from what needs to be done. Her nieces and nephew need both their aunt and their uncle. So in normal Julia fashion, she makes plans to tell Douglas that he needs to be available.
Douglas tries to stay away from Julia, but her passion for life makes it hard. She’s not afraid to stand up to him or even argue with him. That’s rare in Douglas’ life and he relishes it. Douglas soon decides that the only option open to he and Julia is to get married. He’s relieved when he finally comes to that decision, no longer at war with his feelings for her. Too bad Julia is not having it. She already married for love once and it almost destroyed her. She was not going to get involved with a man that she could fall in love with, never mind that he will never love her back.
I enjoyed this book immensely. Julia was such a beautiful, courageous heroine. Her absolute devotion to the children and their wellbeing was so heartfelt. She was witty, emotional, exciting, and smart. She gave up her life in the States to go to England and she didn’t regret it for one moment. Douglas was a very magnetic hero. He didn’t talk much, but I always knew what he was feeling. Kristen Ashley did an amazing job with these two characters. I’m already reading the second book in the series.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
P.S. This book includes a haunted house.