I was very surprised to see this come over my feed as a freebie Kindle book. Normally, I am not a fan of ghost-story PNR romances but I really like this author's work and was curious to see what she would do with a ghost story.
The story centers on two brothers who were on the opposite sides of the English civil war. Vernon Heatherington was the royalist, Earl of Rustead. His younger brother Nathaniel was a Roundhead. In the 1600s the brothers dueled, a circumstance that lead to both of their deaths.
But they did not just die. Instead they, and another ghost known only as the Monk, are forced to haunt Rustead abbey for centuries for reasons unknown. So they watch year and after year, as times, fashions, politics, inventions come and go. And they get to witness their own descendants as they live, grow and die in the Abbey. They are only allowed corporeal form once a year on the day they died. For Vernon that is Halloween. For Nathaniel that is Christmas. Obviously they are waiting for something...some sign...or some break that will tell them why they are unable to move on.
For Vernon his break comes in the 1800s when he falls hopelessly in love with Cassandra, Countess of Rustead and wife of the profligate eighth Earl. Nathaniel's break doesn't come for another 200 years when in 2012 he falls in love with the Sylvie the American countess and wife of the 12th Earl.
In essence this was two romance novellas in one larger volume with a connecting hook. Each romance pretty much followed the same trajectory with the ghost falling in love with the unhappy countess and given the opportunity to become visible to her for awhile and right a terrible wrong about to happen to her. Each man's 'get out of jail free' card was also the same.
However the structure is where the similarities in the two stores end. The meat of the story for both is quite a bit different. Vernon's storyline includes a visible and fairly straightforward threat to both the Cassandra and her husband. In Nathaniel's story, the mystery is more subtle and includes even more paranormal elements.
I liked each romance equally and both stories were quickly absorbing and felt satisfyingly full.
There is a tease at the end about the Monk that suggests, if not he possibility that he may get his own story, at least his own salvation is possibly at hand as well.
One thing for Kindle readers with this story, the default size of the type-setting for this is tiny
I had to go to the sixth biggest font size to make it legible.