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Ghost Gifts

Ghost Gifts, March 2016
Ghost Gifts #1
by Laura Spinella

Montlake Romance
286 pages
ISBN: 1503950778
EAN: 9781503950771
Kindle: B012W7BC5K
Paperback / e-Book
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"Layered mystery with a paranormal twist"

Fresh Fiction Review

Ghost Gifts
Laura Spinella

Reviewed by Samantha Randolph
Posted June 25, 2016

Romance Paranormal | Romance Suspense

Aubrey Ellis leads a normal life on the outside: a newspaper job, an impending divorce, and a loving grandmother. She keeps her paranormal gift of being able to communicate with the dead as under the radar as she possibly can. When the skeletal remains of a body no one thought would ever be found surfaces, Aubrey is assigned to team up with reporter Levi St John to find the mystery behind the body and why the person locked up for the crime may or may not have been the one to commit it. Keeping her gift a secret has never been harder, and as romance flairs between them, Aubrey is certain of only one thing: justice must be found.

GHOST GIFTS is a wild adventure of a mystery, brimming with layers, secrets, and more than one person who should feel guilty. The novel is on the longer side, but each puzzle piece is absolutely needed, making the story read at a quicker pace. The paranormal twist gives the plot favor, and Aubrey's carnival background also adds a fun spice. Some of the most intriguing scenes come from flashbacks centered around Missy, placing the reader in a very different sort of mindset and making the murder mystery much more personal.

The romance is a nice slow burn one, full of conflicts in the form of Aubrey's ex-husband, Levi's on again/off again girlfriend, and haunted pasts for both of them (though Aubrey's is a bit more literal). Readers will enjoy their banter as much as their teamwork and will find it hard not to agree with Aubrey's grandmother on all thoughts of romance. It's a close call as to whether the romance or the mystery is most consuming, but thankfully, both are there, and both are bound to keep readers up far past their bedtime.

Paranormal mystery/romance fans will find a gem of a story in Laura Spinella's GHOST GIFTS.

Learn more about Ghost Gifts

SUMMARY

All Aubrey Ellis wants is a normal life, one that doesn’t include desperate pleas from the dead. Her remarkable gift may help others rest in peace, but it also made for an unsettling childhood and destroyed her marriage. Finally content as the real estate writer for a local newspaper, Aubrey keeps her extraordinary ability hidden—until she is unexpectedly assigned the story of a decades-old murder.

Rocked by the discovery of a young woman’s skeletal remains, the New England town of Surrey wants answers. Hard-nosed investigative reporter Levi St John is determined to get them. Aubrey has no choice but to get involved, even at the terrifying risk of stirring spirits connected to a dead woman’s demise and piquing her new reporting partner’s suspicions.

As Aubrey and Levi delve further into the mystery, secrets are revealed and passion ignites. It seems that Aubrey’s ghost gifts are poised to deliver everything but a normal life.

Excerpt

Holyoke, Massachusetts

Twenty Years Ago

The sky cartwheeled overhead. A Ferris wheel continued on, carrying Aubrey Ellis past amber-tinged treetops and stringy power lines that looked like black spaghetti. She counted church steeples. This town had three to the north. Heaven disappeared, carrying Aubrey closer to earth. On the approach, Aubrey felt like any normal thirteen-year-old girl, in particular the kind who didn’t speak to the dead. The scenery leveled and the view changed. Carnival crowds thinned as she circled past Carmine, who manned the controls. “One more time, please!”

“Once more, Miss Ellis, then it’s back to work! Your grandmother will take us to task for slacking on the job.” But his mustache stretched wide over a grin. Aubrey relaxed, her long arms resting lazily across the seat back. Her chin tipped upward and she indulged in nothingness, a soft breeze touching her face like a kiss. A cornflower September sky domed high while a white moon awaited its cue. Cool nutty air rode with her and Aubrey breathed deep with each turn of the Ferris wheel. It was the Heinz-Bodette carnival’s largest, most spectacular ride. But soon cycles would come full circle and leaves would decay, signaling another season’s end. The troupe and equipment would break down into smaller units and retreat to various winter haunts. Some went to storage and some went to Albuquerque.

Aubrey inhaled halfway and the autumn air transformed. A chemical odor, like gasoline but stronger, seeped into her lungs. She inched forward, looking right and left, trying to match the smell to an earthly event below. There were only signs that a carnival had come to town: Sugared-up children begging for one more ride and another game of chance. The parents who’d spent their money on made-in-China memories, their children’s bellies filled with cotton candy and funnel cake. Aubrey saw nothing that explained the pungent air. The growing stench made her gag, and she pressed her hand to her mouth.

As she passed by Carmine, he asked, “Miss Ellis . . . Aubrey, are you all right?” But it was too late to stop the spinning machinery and Aubrey circled on. Their catch and release gaze broke, her gondola rising above the idyllic New England scene. Unable to hold her breath any longer, Aubrey gasped for air. Her lungs filled. She prayed for a simple gas-main leak and looked toward the pointy steeples. Religion offered few clues. At the Ferris wheel’s peak, Aubrey stood and the gondola wobbled from its winch. There was nothing to note. She shuffled onto her knees and peered over the back of the seat. Ferris wheels were stingy about a downward view, and the only thing Aubrey could see was the top of a man’s hat in the gondola below. He wore a fedora, like the ones she’d seen in old movies.

On putrid air a name filtered up: “Georgie . . .”

Aubrey faced forward and sat, her insides cramping with the grip of a python. She braced for what came next. There hadn’t been an incident since June, and she’d lulled herself into thinking the dead might never come again. On her tongue came the taste of candy, a Mary Jane, peanut buttery and sweet. It layered with the acrid chemical smell. Fear and flavor were a potent combination, too potent, and Aubrey thrust her head over the side, retching onto the grass below. A late lunch hit with a splat, thankfully missing Carmine. As her gondola approached he grabbed the metal frame and wrestled it to a halt.

“You should have yelled down. I would have gotten you off faster!”

Aubrey waved one gangly arm, wiping tears from her eyes with her other hand. “There wasn’t time. It happened too fast.” Carmine helped her out of the gondola, but it did little to resolve the sensation of being trapped. The name Georgie drilled into Aubrey’s ears. The chemical smell burned. The taste of the Mary Jane was opposing and strong. Carmine’s hand rested on her shoulder as everyday embarrassment nudged its way in. “I’ll . . . I’ll clean it up,” she said, glancing at the mess. Towns had strict ordinances about waste disposal, and Aubrey supposed vomit on their pretty fairgrounds violated the rules.

“Joe will take care of it.” Carmine pressed the walkie- talkie in his hand. “Charlotte, are you nearby?

Aubrey could use you.”

“What’s the problem, Carmine? I’m waist-deep in receipts.” Husky laughter echoed through the device. “And we know that’s a substantial waist!”

He traded another look with Aubrey who nodded. “We, um . . . she’s had an encounter of sorts. She looks a little peaked . . . I think she could—”

A crackle cut in. “I’ll be right there.”


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