SHIVER by Jo Leigh is part of Harlequin Blaze's
Carrie Sawyer had a great life with many friends...if you
counted the friends she had in cyberspace. She only left her
downtown L.A. loft to run errands or
because her best friend Erin insisted she go somewhere with
her. If it weren't for Erin, Carrie wouldn't have much of a
life at all.
Once a year, the girls go on vacation together, and this
year is Erin's turn to pick. This vacation will be
extremely important for both of them. Once they return home
Erin will be moving to New York, leaving Carrie
alone in a town where she doesn't know anyone and feels as
if she doesn't fit in. But this vacation will change the
life's of all those involved.
Sam Crider had inherited his family's hotel after his
father's death, putting a major hold on his plans. Now he
was bound and determined to sell the hotel so he can get
back to his life in New York and continue to make
documentary films. But he never expected Carrie to walk
into his lobby with a group of people who are at his hotel
for a week of ghost hunting.
They both flirt openly and are easy around one another.
They talk and they have a lot in common, more than either
of them had expected. They agree to have a wild fling
while Carrie is on vacation. But the fling turns into
something more, and it may take ghostly intervention to keep
these two together.
SHIVER seems to start slow, but it is a build up of sexual
tension and important to the rest of the story. Jo Leigh is
an amazing storyteller. She takes a straightforward plot and
turns it into a spicy paranormal. The plot line is one I've
seen before, but Ms. Leigh has made it uniquely her own. I
couldn't think of a better paranormal to read in celebration
of Halloween. If you like paranormals, ghosts, and sexy love
scenes with a hint of commitment, than you will love this
book. Treat yourself this Halloween, pick up this book for a
Welcome to the Crider Inn, one of the most haunted
spots in Colorado, and the venue for this year's ghostly
convention. Mingle with fellow fans. Be prepared for a week
of unexpected encounters and spine-tingling
Comic-strip artist Carrie Sawyer doesn't
actually believe in ghostsâ€”she only agreed to accompany her
best friend on this crazy trip. What she does believe
is that hotel owner Sam Crider is mind-bendingly delish! And
since this vacation is all about dark, empty hotel rooms and
late nights, it's perfect for some naughty, after-hours
encounters of the X-rated kindâ€¦.
The kind that can
make a girl shiver with temptation! And fear the unknownâ€¦
The dude's elbow poked the side of her boob. Again. Carrie
couldn't tell if he was doing it on purpose or if he was
just clueless. If she had to make a guess, it would be
It was bad enough the Crider Inn was over
an hour from the Denver airport, but the shuttle bus was so
packed Carrie hadn't even been able to sit next to Erin.
Although Carrie shouldn't complain too hard. At least she
was wedged against the luggage rack on one side, whereas her
friend was in the middle of a creepy-guy sandwich. The one
on her right looked to be in his thirties, sported a
world-class mullet and kept pushing up his tortoiseshell
glasses with his middle finger, making it look as if he were
flipping everyone the bird. Repeatedly. On Erin's left was a
nice-enough-looking guy, somewhere in his twenties, who
wouldn't be bad at all if he hadn't snorted every two
seconds. The postnasal-drip kind of snort that even if you
gave him a tissue, it probably wouldn't do any
Carrie caught her friend's gaze and scowled at
her with evil intent. For her part, Erin smiled brightly as
if this were the best shuttle ride ever. Who knew? Maybe for
Erin, it was. After all, everyone with the exception of the
driver and herself talked of nothing but
reminding herself Erin hadn't pointed a gun or threatened
her in any way. Carrie had willingly dropped over a thousand
bucks of her very hard-earned savings to come to this almost
weeklong ghost-hunting extravaganza. She never would have
agreed if it hadn't been their last vacation together. Erin
was moving to New York three weeks to the day from when they
returned, leaving behind her downtown Los Angeles loft to
begin her new career as a bona fide architect in New York
The two of them had vacationed together every
single year since they'd been juniors at the University of
Louisville. Last year's trip to Bryce Canyon in Utah had
been Carrie's pick, and although Erin hated camping out,
she'd gone along with the plan. In return, Carrie had
promised she'd go along with whatever, although if she'd
known it would have involved ghost hunting, she might have
amended the agreement.
Her complaints had fallen on
deaf ears, and Erin had booked the trip through Marnie's
Fantasy Escapes travel agency. Marnie had been thrilled and
grateful, which had helped seal the deal, but the real
capper had been when Erin had pointed out, quite cleverly,
that Carrie could consider this a weeklong research trip.
After all, she was a cartoonist who made her living mocking
trends and popular culture. If ghost hunting didn't give her
enough ideas for her next graphic novel then she should just
quit right now and go find herself a job serving fries with
"So, I was sound asleep. I mean, I was out like
a light. Nothin' could have gotten me up, not after the
workday I'd put in. But then I hear this shriek. It was
loud. Like, I don't knowâ€”"
Carrie winced and covered
her ears as the guy with the elbow issue screamed at the top
of his lungs. It was a girly scream, too, high-pitched and
weird as hell and far scarier than any
"Yeah, like that," he said, as if he
hadn't almost shattered the windows.
that the shuttle driver hadn't flinched. The bus hadn't
swerved or anything. She guessed working for the "Most
Haunted Hotel in the U.S." got one used to the odd
"The weird thing was, the people in the
living room, like, I don't know, ten feet away or something?
They didn't even hear it. But I had my EMF under my pillow,
and it was going crazy. Seriously. All in the red. No
Erin had given her a cheat sheet on the
ghost-hunting nomenclature. It was far too lengthy to
memorize, but she knew that EMF stood for electromagnetic
field, and that Elbow Guy was referring to his meter.
Carrie'd had no idea there was so much equipment involved in
ghost hunting. EMF meters, ultrasensitive thermometers,
night-vision goggles and cameras, and a bunch of other stuff
she'd zoned out about. Erin had packed her fair share, but
Carrie couldn't complain too much. She'd brought not only
her laptop, but also her scanner, a bunch of files and her
drawing supplies. Thankfully, the Crider Inn had, as Erin
put it, "Wi-Fi up the yin yang."
"I've had three
The soft voice came from two
rows back, and Carrie turned to see it was the pretty woman
who was speaking. She was somewhere in her thirties, which
seemed to be the median age, and she defied Carrie's
stereotypes by being elegant, fashionable and from her
reading materialâ€”a heavy-duty philosophy tomeâ€”educated. Not
that Erin wasn't all those things, but Carrie had never
lumped her in with the vague group she considered
ghost-hunting nut-jobs. Anyway, the pretty woman's voice
held a hint of somewhere exotic, perhaps Jamaica, that
captivated with its quiet strength.
"When I was a
child, my old grandfather came to me after his death. He sat
on my bed and he talked to me as clearly as I'm speaking to
you. He told me not to worry, that he was in a fine, fine
place, and that he would watch over me for all the rest of
my days. He also told me that I would travel the world, and
see many great things, but it was my family I should
Elbow Dude started to comment, but
Carrie clipped him one in his side because the woman wasn't
"The second experience was many years
later, at a small hotel in Florence, Italy. I woke from an
afternoon nap to find an old white woman standing near the
balcony. She never turned to look at me, so I didn't see her
face, but I watched her shoulders rise as she appeared to
take a deep breath, and when she let it out, her head bowed.
She was gone the next instant."
The woman smiled at
Carrie, maybe because she was staring so blatantly. "I keep
my third experience private."
Carrie faced front once
more, wishing she could be one of them. One of these true
believers. They seemed to get much more than spooky scares
or thrills from these supposedly haunted places. Take Erin,
for instance. Something about her belief in ghosts calmed
her. It made her world easier to understand, and despite the
utter lack of scientific proof, she had no doubts
Carrie wasn't so lucky. She understood
the psychology of belief in the supernatural. Human brains
were designed to assign patterns and reason whether or not
they exist. Ghosts, aliens, conspiracies or even finding
evil messages in rock music were all based on assigning
meaning to random things. At least ghost hunting was
harmless and had been around since the beginning of
large-brained hominids, but it wasn't something she
subscribed to, and being around people who were so ferocious
in their certainty became wearing after a while.
she found most bewildering was that in all the years and
years of ghost hunting, no one seemed concerned that no
matter how hard people looked, and damn, there were
industries based on people believing in ghosts, there was no
repeatable, verifiable proof. She tried hard to keep her
opinions to herself when she was around Erin's friends, but
it wasn't always easy.
When she heard intelligent,
eloquent people expound on their supernatural experiences
she tried not to roll her eyes. Whether she could remain a
stoic observer after an intense week of pretending to
believe in ghosts and goblins, well, that remained to be
Her gaze went to the window as she let herself
fall into the lovely Colorado scenery. She'd make the most
of her week, especially spending time with Erin. She was
going to miss her friend something terrible.
shuttle load of ghost hunters was due to arrive in the next
ten minutes, and Sam Crider, current proprietor of the
Crider Inn, was ready for them.
Since it was
Halloween week and this was the largest and longest
convention of ghost aficionados he'd booked since taking
over the hotel, he'd gone all out decorating the place. It
wasn't hard to give the hotel a spooky ambience. His family
had been doing it for generations, ever since the Old Hotel,
now condemned but not torn down, had been destroyed by a
fire of mysterious origin that had killed a number of his
ancestors, who, according to legend, had never checked
Personally, he was delighted by this resurgence
of ghost hunting and all the television shows that glorified
the sport. All the paranormal legends about the Crider
property were not only filling his coffers, but they were
also a large part of why the hotel and the hundred acres of
Crider land were now involved in a bidding war.
companies were interested in buying the place. One wanted to
exploit the haunted reputation, and the other simply wanted
to exploit the land. Sam had no preference as to who won,
just so long as the check cleared.
Almost no one who
worked for him knew that, of course. All negotiations had
been done on the quiet, because a Crider had always owned
and run the property and, it was assumed, always
He wanted nothing more than to shake the dust
of this place off his shoes and get back to his real life.
He'd been in the middle of his fifth documentary film when
his father had died. Shit, it was ten months ago. The time
had gone by in a blur.
He missed the old man. They'd
been close. The bond had taken root when Sam was thirteen
and his mother had died of breast cancer. It hadn't been
strong enough, however, to give Sam a love of the hotel, or
a desire to carry on the family tradition. The sale would
make it possible for him to continue making films, and no
longer on a shoestring budget.
He'd finally have
enough money to hire some help, like sound professionals and
a full-time assistant. Not to mention the massive upgrade in
equipment he'd be able to afford. He could stop thinking
local and travel anywhere the stories dictated, film for as
long as necessary to get what he needed. He'd have the cash
to submit his films to all the important festivals. He'd
actually be able to move out of the glorified Brooklyn broom
closet he currently called home base.
So ghosts it
was, and would be for the next week. Not only to curry favor
with the convention people, but also to wow the potential
buyers, both of whom were coming to check out the
That had been a neat trick. As he'd been
told by his attorney, his accountant and his real estate
broker, no one conducted sales by having the competing
parties survey the place at the same time. But Sam had no
interest in playing games. Representatives from both
companies had already checked out the property, the numbers
had been crunched and recrunched, now all that was left was
for the CEOs to do a walk-through before actually making
Sam had told the two men that he was having one
showing, and that was that. They could take it or leave it.
Luckily, they'd both taken it. Turns out they knew each
other, had figured they'd both be interested in the place,
and were looking forward to seeing each other. But now that
it was happening, Sam worried that they'd both say no, and
he'd be back to square one.
He surveyed the lobby
slowly, trying to see the place with fresh eyes. It wasn't
possible. He'd grown up here, had slept in almost every one
of the thirty-six guest rooms. He'd eaten in the
restaurantâ€”good cooks and badâ€”learned to shoot pool in the
small pub. He'd lost his virginity in the Old Hotel, and had
his heart broken sitting in front of the big stone fireplace
that dominated the lobby.
He'd miss it all, but not
tragically. It was just a building, just land, just a view.
He'd already made sure that both the buyers were amenable to
keeping the permanent staff, so no guilt there. And he'd
found a great retirement place in Denver for his Aunt Grace.
If there was one fly in the ointment, it was Grace. She'd
lived here all her life, residing in the attached apartment
that had once been his parents' home.
But she was
getting on in years, and she shouldn't live this far away
from medical care anyway. He was doing the right thing, for
himself, for the employees, and for Grace. He'd sent her off
to her friend's home in Miami for a couple of weeks. She'd
been happy to go, to be somewhere warm. He just hoped she'd
be half as excited to move when it was time.
the door behind him, and turned to find his old friend Jody
Reading bringing him a hot beverage and what looked to be a
dessert. Jody was an executive chef, a damn fine one, who'd
agreed to come in for the week. She would wow the guests
with her superb meals and drive them insane with her
"I thought you'd like to try
this before the deluge."
He peeked in the mug to find
coffeeâ€”a latte, from the looks of itâ€”and a large piece of a
layered napoleon, his favorite. "You're ruining me. I'll be
a French-pastry junkie and end up living in some alley
behind a patisserie."
"As long as it's not my
He really shouldn't indulge now, not
when the shuttle was due to arrive any minute, but the
dessert looked so delicious, he took his plate and the fork
and dug in. His moan wasn't particularly manly, but it
seemed to please Jody.
"My work here is done," she
said. She gave him a friendly swat on the ass, then went
back to the kitchen.
Luckily, he was alone, at least
for the moment, because he downed the pastry way too fast,
which was a crime. But he didn't want to be caught by a
guest, and there was a strict rule about eating at the front
Just as he lifted the last forkful to his
mouth, the lobby door opened, bringing a gust of cold wind
along with eighteen paying guests.
He dropped his
fork on the plate, then shoved the plate under a newspaper.
He smiled and rang the bell that would bring Patrick from
the office. Patrick was the manager of the hotel, and he
would handle the registration, while Sam
"You're Sam Crider? The guy who owns the
He nodded at the first person at the desk,
Liam O'Connell, one of the conference
Liam took the pen and began to fill out
his registration card. "Bet you've seen a thing or two."
What do you think about this review?
1 comment posted.
Re: Trick or Treat?...Treat Yourself This Halloween!
Loved this excerpt, and was able to find &get the boo tonight. Thanks for the great review Tonya :D
(Bella Franco 1:32am October 30, 2010)
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