Murder in the Hamptons
Room Service

Christmas Spirit
by Amy Garvey
(Zebra, $6.99, R)  ISBN 978-14201-0819-4
What started out as a light-hearted Christmas story about a couple of ghosts who loved to send heat waves out that encouraged our hero and heroine to make love, ended up as a dud, with a boring resolution and a disappointing plot.

Charlie Prescott (short for Charlotte) has just moved back into the family house left to her by her Aunt May. Charlie and her family used to come visit this lovely old Victorian on Martha’s Vineyard and no one ever said anything about ghosts. But clearly there are strange goings-on – like the eggnog being devoured and the heat in the spare bedroom clearly something beyond the norm. When Charlie mentions it to a neighbor, she gets a surprise visit from a reporter from National Scoop magazine so her paranormal visitors can be included in an article on that subject.

Sam Landry is the reporter, albeit a reluctant one. Sam is a newspaper reporter who lost his job, partly due to the economy, and he was stuck taking what he considers to be a sleazy job with a National Enquirer wannabe. He doesn’t believe in ghosts and is not looking forward to this visit or any others his editor has arranged for him. But Sam never thought to experience what he did.  First he felt the heat, then the lust for Charlie, who is an attractive woman. Then he felt the fist thrust into his chest, pushing him away from Charlie during a passionate embrace. Hmm…maybe there is more here than meets the senses.

So who are these ghosts? They appear to be somehow related to the Prescotts. Research shows that there was a lady named Temperance who was apparently having an affair with a man named Daniel. At one point, Charlie gets a lot of vibes and is able to write their story…a hot and steamy rendition of their love affair. Why one of the ghosts seems to dislike Sam is not really plain but after two shoves, it is clear this ghost doesn’t like Sam to touch Charlie, at least when Charlie is seen. There is even suspicion and fear that there is a third ghost who is jealous and pushing Sam around. 

What is fun is that Sam and Charlie can’t get enough of each other. They even like each other when they aren’t in the sack. But now they have to worry about whether it is the ghosts using their bodies or their own feelings that they are feeling. And all this would be a great tale except for the way the author’s idea seems to lose track and the book muddles to an end.

This is a SPOILER alert. The story ends with all the details wrapped up but what we end up with is… nothing. Our ghost, Daniel, has no real reason for being there – he just happens to be passing through. And Temperance is nowhere around. Daniel just made Charlie think she was. Sam and Charlie get rid of Daniel by turning off their computer…and poof he is gone. That’s it…done; over and see ya. 

By this point, I was beyond frustrated. If it wasn’t for the hot sex and the little bit of worry over whether Sam had it in him to stick around, the last third of the book would have been a waste of time. As it was, it was just pretty dull and very unsatisfactory.  Just as I was getting drawn in, the story just slipped away. Christmas Spirit needed a lot more for me to get into the mood. 

--Shirley Lyons

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