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.
All Aubrey Ellis wants is a normal life, one that doesn’t
include desperate pleas from the dead. Her remarkable
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
unexpectedly assigned the story of a decades-old murder.
Rocked by the discovery of a young woman’s skeletal
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
terrifying risk of stirring spirits connected to a dead
woman’s demise and piquing her new reporting partner’s
As Aubrey and Levi delve further into the mystery,
are revealed and passion ignites. It seems that Aubrey’s
ghost gifts are poised to deliver everything but a normal
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,
“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
“You should have yelled down. I would have gotten you off
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—”