Unable to deny his own translucence, Dr. Jason Bowen determines his lack of physical substance could only mean one thing-he’s a ghost. Murdered more than a century before, Jason haunts his house and ponders the treachery that took his life. When Lanie O’Keefe arrives with plans to renovate her newly purchased Victorian mansion, Jason discovers, ghost or not, he’s still very much a man. Despite its derelict condition and haunted reputation, Lanie couldn’t be happier with her new home, but then she has no idea a spirit follows her every move throughout the day and shares her captivating warmth at night. Jason soon discovers he can travel through Lanie’s dreams and finds himself reliving the days before his murder with Lanie by his side. It took one hundred and twenty years for love to find them, but there’s that insurmountable little matter of Jason being dead.
This is the second novel by Rose Anderson I have read and reviewed and once again I think Ms Anderson has written a novel that is intriguing by its aura of mystery, a combination Victorian/contemporary ghost story, and at the core, a very erotic love story. There is not doubt in my mind that this is one heck of a novel, one that had me introspective and thoughtful when I finished, a kind of wonder that someone could have crafted such a wonderful book. That same sense of wonder is with me whenever I come out of the theater after watching one of those movies that seems to grab me by the shirt front and hold me captive throughout. That is the same feeling I had when I finished this tale.
All that being said, this is a story that tells of a heroine whose own early years were filled with hurt, emotional wounds caused by the neglect of a drunken mother and the derision of an uncaring community. The stately Victorian mansion seemed to inspire her to dream of a world of tradition, family, affluence, and romance. The stories of the ghost who lived in the shuttered environs of the Bowen mansion also piqued her interest, especially after she began to dream about the young boy who lived there, whose mother had died when he was young and whose father had been killed in a freak accident. The dreams continued off and on throughout her growing up years but were especially intense after Lanie purchased the Bowen mansion, spending her small inheritance to refurbish the old house and its yard, gardens, and fountains. She then began the construction of a new free clinic. She was a doctor and the free clinic was one of her most insistent goals. In fact, in the dream life she enjoyed with Jason Bowen, her ghostly dream lover who was also a physician, Lanie was a woman ahead of her time in that she was a doctor also. But Jason was a ghost who had been murdered by his wife of four months in order to gain his extensive wealth. Now as a ghost, mourning the fact that he had not real future with Lanie, he needed to find out how he died. In their dream life together they were seeking not only the facts of Jason’s death, but ways to possibly change the future by preventing his death.
Throughout this story there is the tension Jason feels as he falls in love with this real woman, dealing with his feelings and the awareness that there was no future for them. He also had to face the need to remove himself from her awareness and through her friend he tried to do that. Lanie, nevertheless, always seemed to have the sense that she and Jason not only had a limit to their time in the present world but that when he died in her dream life, he would be gone there as well. So the reader is kept on the edge as these two parallel lives unfold for Lanie and Jason as well as for her friend Lexie and those who are alive in her dreams but who have been dead for over a century.
There are twists and turns and surprises galore in this novel, not the least of which is the ending which absolutely flipped me on my head and left me with my mouth hanging open. Certainly not what I expected. It was a more than satisfactory resolution, but to say I was shocked is to put it mildly. Suffice it to say that throughout the novel the reader has the sense that this century-old horror is going to repeat itself, that there seems no possible way that Lanie and Jason can realize a happy ending together short of Lanie’s death, or that the evil perpetrated by Jason’s wife and relatives is inevitable. I had the feeling that I was reading a Greek tragedy where things begin as they go on . . . worse and worse. Yet the author has come up with a resolution that is not only surprising in the extreme but absolutely perfect for the story.
This story will perplex and stretch the reader’s belief in the power of love, and while we all know that death is final there remains that remnant of belief that somehow we’ll find a way to reach across the Great Divide of death with the power of love. Perhaps that is the winsome hope upon which this novel is predicated as well as the fact that there are those who believe in re-incarnation, the reality of dreams or the possibility that dreams can reveal deep truths about ourselves we would otherwise miss. Whatever the truth may be or wherever it lies in regards to life and death, this story will feed that hope that somehow death is not quite so final. There is beauty here, with the joy of mutual discovery between Jason and Lanie, the frustration of the heart that can often twist a person’s spirit, the evil that grows out of the love of wealth, the kindness and gentleness which can come from friendship and deep respect, and hope that deep and authentic loving can keep alive under any set of circumstances. It is all here and Ms Anderson has woven it all into a novel that is beautifully written, well-edited, and put together so that the parts of the story flow together seamlessly. It is a novel I have no difficulty calling a work of art.
So readers who love erotic romance wrapped in the mists of dream and fantasy and time-travel will find this to be a delightful reading experience, an entertaining way to spend some time, and an exercise of the mind and imagination. This novel is already on my favorites list as well as my “to read again” list.
I give it a rating of 5 out of 5