In 1920s Scotland, even ghosts wear plaid.
Welcome to a sexy, spooky new paranormal historical series from debut author Ella Stainton.
Dr. Ainsley Graham is cultivating a reputation as an eccentric.
Two years ago, he catastrophically ended his academic career by publicly claiming to talk to ghosts. When Joachim Cockburn, a WWI veteran studying the power of delusional thinking, arrives at his door, Ainsley quickly catalogues him as yet another tiresome Englishman determined to mock his life’s work.
But Joachim is tenacious and openhearted, and Ainsley’s intrigued despite himself. He agrees to motor his handsome new friend around to Scotland’s most unmistakable hauntings. If he can convince Joachim, Ainsley might be able to win back his good name and then some. He knows he’s not crazy—he just needs someone else to know it, too.
Joachim is one thesis away from realizing his dream of becoming a psychology professor, and he’s not going to let anyone stop him, not even an enchanting ginger with a penchant for tartan and lewd jokes. But as the two travel across Scotland’s lovely—and definitely, definitely haunted—landscape, Joachim’s resolve starts to melt. And he’s beginning to think that an empty teaching post without the charming Dr. Graham would make a very poor consolation prize indeed…
This was such a fun romp through 1920s Scotland as somewhat eccentric Ainsley drags Joachim from place to place to prove the existence of ghosts.
Both of the characters are equally compelling. Joachim carries both emotional and physical wounds from the war and, for his Ph.D. research, is in Scotland to study the behavior of Dr. Ainsley Graham, who claims that he speaks with ghosts. On the other hand, the flirtatious commitment-phobic Ainsley is quite eccentric and most likely suffers from ADHD. He’s also carrying some deep emotional wounds himself, especially grief from the loss of his brother Charlie.
Once Ainsley discovers with certainty that Joachim is also gay, he wastes no time in trying to get the man into bed, which doesn’t take him long at all, resulting in many steamy moments of pure erotica; heavenly, tawdry and scintillating. Typically, I’m not a fan of numerous sex scenes in a story and tend to breeze past them. They worked really well here, however, and each one helped us to learn a little bit more about the personalities of our guys as well allow us to watch as their feelings continued to deepen for each other.
However, these feelings between our characters take quite a while to develop, given that each of them carries some intense emotional baggage. That being said, the author does an exquisite job of developing these two characters. They were so vivid, so distinct that I felt as though I were interacting with actual people in real life. Additionally, the chemistry between them was off the charts. It was also fun to watch each man’s desperate attempts to hide his feelings for the other.
As for the paranormal aspect of the story, it was a hoot to journey along with them as Joachim refuses to believe what’s right in front of him. The author threw in a couple of extra added twists to the ghost aspect of the story which added to its intrigue.
I enjoyed how some of the ghosts popped in and out of the story, and we learn their connection to our two protagonists. Another character, Ainsley’s friend Barley, who is psychic and is trying to seduce a lad who may or may not be straight, added a bit of extra fun to the storyline.
I appreciated the commentary about being gay in the 1920s and how the discovery of such could be not only ruinous to one’s career, but could also result in being sent to prison or locked up in an asylum. So in this way, we see how acting on feelings for another could be extremely dangerous if not deadly. So though two men may love one another, the decision to live as a couple provided an additional level of conflict in the story.
But all in all, I loved this historical romance/ghost story. This fun and beautiful book stole my heart. It’s an enjoyable story that serves up laughs to accompany a thoughtful reflection on loss, grief, depression, anxiety, trauma, and love, all of which the author writes with winning charm.
But apart from the ghosts and the romance, I found that this book is ultimately also about facing unimaginable heartbreak and coming out stronger on the other side, no matter how long it takes you.
A huge thank you to Ella Stainton and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy of this book.