Live and Yearn
Kelley St. John
September 2008, Series Romance
Harlequin Blaze #421, $4.99, 209 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373794258
Part of a series
I and bought Live and Yearn because I absolutely hated what I was reading, couldn't get through it, and wanted to read something(anything!) else. I enjoyed the other book I read in St. John's series about a family of mediums, so this seemed like a good diversion. Happily, it did the trick. It's not brilliant; indeed, at times it's a little silly. But sometimes silly and fun is just what you need.
Nanette Vicknair is the oldest of the Vicknair cousins, and is more or less the leader in their family's traditional sideline - helping ghosts resolve the issues keeping them in limbo so they can cross over to the other side. Nanette lives in the family's plantation home, which she and her cousins have been working to rehab and to secure government funding for since Hurricane Katrina damaged it. On the opposite side of the struggle is Charles Roussel, the St. Charles parish president. He has opposed funding for her plantation at every turn, throwing roadblock after roadblock in her way. It doesn't help that she and Charles share a history. She lusted after him for years when she was younger, and spent one hot summer with him. But after he returned to college in the fall, he disappeared from her life.
Charles actually does want Nanette's home to get the funding. The many roadblocks really serve as an excuse for him to see her, He's never forgotten about her - the reason he walked out is one of those Big Secrets - but it's pretty easy to forgive him. Unfortunately, before he can tell Nanette about his feelings for her - or inform the rest of the historic homes commission that he doesn't want to deny funding for the Vicknairs, he has a serious car accident. Now he is hovering between life and death, trying to influence events. And having sex with Nanette. Yes, this book features plenty of hot ghost sex.
Nanette is pretty conflicted about her feelings for Charles, especially after the accident. When he first shows up in her bedroom at night, clearly ready for some action, Nanette thinks it's a dream. That doesn't stop her from being an enthusiastic participant. Because of her family's talents and training, she soon realizes that Charles is a ghost. There are problems beyond the obvious, however. She and ghost-Charles really enjoy sex, but it weakens his actual, corporeal body lying in the hospital bed. They are also up against a tight deadline to save Nanette's home, and Charles instructs her how to do it. Meanwhile, there is family drama relating to Charles's secret.
On a light-and-fun level, this book worked for me completely. With any paranormal, you are clearly going to need to suspend your disbelief, and this is no exception. The ghosts do some crazy stuff; some even help with repairs on the plantation, so that people can see hammers floating in mid-air. Now that I think about it, that really isn't any sillier than the ghost sex. But the point is, this isn't really the book for you if you are looking for hard-hitting realism. But let's face it: You can get hard-hitting realism any day of the week. Many of us read romance to escape, and nothing says "escape" like invisible construction workers and hot ghost-love.
Character development can often get the short shrift in series romances because of the limited word count. But I felt like I had a good sense of who Nanette and Charles were, and I liked them both. Their story is actually better suited to a short format (you could just see how annoying the big secret would be if the book had been twice as long).
I have to admit that I haven't kept up with the series (I've only read one of the past books, Ghost and Roses, which I also liked) but I didn't find that a hindrance. Many of the past characters appear in the book, but they aren't distracting in any way, and you definitely don't have to read all the other books first in order to understand this one.
On the whole, this book is a great diversion. Even if you're not reading something you hate, it's worth seeking out for a fun, light read.
-- Blythe Barnhill
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