Kindred Spirits

Jocelyn Kelley
2008, Paranormal Historical (Regency England)
Signet, $6.99, 304 pages, Amazon ASIN 0451223446
Part of a series

Grade: C
Sensuality: Warm

In Kindred Spirits a Regency Miss is charged with saving the life of Lord Braddock by the ghost of his ancestor. An interesting premise, but my interest waned with the introduction of some very odd paranormal elements and an obtuse hero.

China Nethercott is returning to her home in Yorkshire when she is hailed by a ghost in Roman centurion garb. Quintus Valerius tells her that he is doomed to wander the earth until he can save one of his descendants from madness or death. His actions caused a curse to be placed on his family so that the firstborn son dies on, or goes mad by, September 5 of their 30th year. Alexander, hero of Waterloo, is rapidly approaching that milestone and Quintus has chosen China to be his instrument, as he cannot appear to Alexander himself. Curses are capricious things, aren't they? Quintus has caused a cave-in in the nearby Roman ruins, injuring and trapping Alexander, so he is just waiting there for China to rescue him, take him home and keep him safe until the dreaded day passes and the curse broken.

China obediently does all this, not at all disconcerted by being accosted by a ghost, for her late father was a great believer in ghosts and her sister has experience with a ghost from the previous book in the series. It's kind of a family tradition. However, Alexander steadfastly refuses to believe in ghosts, no matter what China says. Here's where the obtuseness of the hero comes into play. You'd think that in the hundreds of years since Quintus's time that Alexander would have noticed that every firstborn male in the family has died on September 5 or gone mad. Well, he's noticed the gone mad part, for his father did so. But what about the rest? Wouldn't the explanation of an ancient curse, no matter how hard to believe at first, be kind of a relief?

He eventually unbends enough to believe that China believes it, so that's something. And he has no objection to spending all his time in her company, though as the dreaded date approaches and several attempts on his life are made, China is also placed in danger. The danger comes from both human and inhuman sources, including a giant who rampages through the garden and beats Alexander with the flat of his sword before running off. Huh?

When Alexander isn't being obtuse, he can be quite appealing. He's got a touch of PTSD from Waterloo and abhors being called a hero. He's also quite smitten with China, and she with him. Their relationship was, for the most part, sweet, and their falling in love gradual enough to be believable. But, in the end, there were just too many odd and aggravating things going on for me to truly enjoy Kindred Spirits.

-- Cheryl Sneed

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