Reviewed by Cristofer Garton
Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
A slow-burning romance if there ever was one.
Going into this book, I had assumed a few things from the synopsis: the story featured a romance between two men, one of these men had a sketchy past, and the house aka Mildred was haunted. But the book turned out to be much more than that, and honestly, I’m not sure I would even say this is a romance – in the strictest sense of the term.
There is more substance and plot here than most romance novels I read, or perhaps I need to rewire my brain to accept romance stories that focus on creating a relationship rather than rushing into one.
I’m getting ahead of myself though….
Lucky Denver is a “vagabond” who is picked up as a hitch-hiker and dropped off at Arnold Kreed’s B & B. At first Lucky is hesitant to accept Kreed’s kindness, thinking there must be some ulterior motive behind that generosity (and very attractive smile), but slowly warms up to the idea of hanging around for a couple of days after an incident involving a purse.
During this time with Kreed, Lucky acknowledges that he’s attracted to him, something that he hasn’t allowed himself to feel for a long time due to past trauma and his history as a sex worker. This is the bulk of Lucky’s resistance to Kreed’s advances. This is the internal conflict that carries you, the reader, through the entire story. This is what I mean when I say it’s more than just an average romance. There are a few kisses here and there, but mostly Lucky is terrified of being with Kreed, AND Kreed is afraid of losing Lucky, even after knowing him for like a few days.
Kreed is presented as a happy-go-lucky type at first, sort of flirtatious but definitely unwilling to just ‘let Lucky go.’ After the incident with the purse and an incident with Kreed’s former lover from college that ultimately sends their lives spiraling into hell, Kreed does his best to keep things amicable between himself and Lucky. He isn’t even shocked or disgusted when he finds out about Lucky’s past. He simply wants to know what happened so that he can help. The support he gives Lucky during the investigation proves that he truly loves Lucky, even if those words are never spoken.
Then there’s the house….
I had never read a book where the house is literally alive. I’ve read countless novels with haunted houses, etc., but never one where the house tripped or pushed people. I think this aspect of the book was the most intriguing to me, the thing that made it stand out in a way that other books don’t. The way Samms describes this uppity house really sets the tone for the story: off-kilter and a little usual at times, yet interesting enough to keep the reader engaged.
The writing is solid. Samms clearly knows the craft, and how to appeal to readers who’re in search of something that flirts with both the paranormal and magical realism genres.
There are a lot of things I enjoyed about this book: the messy portrayal of queer relationships, the acknowledgement that abuse does occur in queer relationships (manipulation, in this case), the theme of redemption, an actual bisexual character, and those far outweighed the things that could have been improved.
If you’re looking for something not quite ‘light’ but something that is a quick, easy read, I suggest considering this book.