A Ghost for Maggie starts out strong, and throughout the first two-thirds or so, is a truly wonderful read. Then, unfortunately, it gets stuck in the lack-of-trust rut and remains mired there until the end.
Robin Rowe was an Arizona madam shot dead in her prime. Because her female descendents have made such a mess of their lives, she is unable to rest, and has been a ghost for a hundred years. Perhaps if Maggie Potter, the last in their line, can find love successfully, Robin can finally rest. God knows she deserves it!
Maggie, however, is far from cooperative. After being named a bimbo in a political scandal, she fled to a small Arizona town and renovated an old mansion with her half-sister Catherine. They’ve turned the mansion into a bed&breakfast. She doesn’t believe in love and doesn’t trust outsiders, let alone the journalists whom she believes destroyed her life. Strangely enough, she doesn’t blame the politician who threw her to the wolves to save his own career, which is in full speed as he plans a run for the presidency.
Enter Colby Drake, political columnist, skeptic by profession, but good-guy by nature. He’s come to town to dig up dirt on Maggie’s old flame. If he has to blackmail her into it by threatening to reveal secrets she’d rather not share with the world, he doesn’t mind, because he’s out for the greater good. He can’t reconcile the Maggie he meets with the bimbo from press clippings, and he can’t convince her that what they’ve got is special.
This is the bare-bones of A Ghost for Maggie, and if it sounds ho-hum, that’s because I haven’t gotten to the best parts yet. Robin is the sassiest, bossiest ghost I’ve ever read, and her shenanigans are a stitch. Then there is (the romance-novel-loving) Catherine’s burgeoning relationship with a local bookstore owner, Tom, who seems more interested in ghost-hunting than in matters of the heart and flesh.
Though eventually the lack-of trust between Maggie and Colby goes on far too long, it initially makes for sparks and sparkling dialogue between Maggie and Colby and Maggie and Robin, who shows herself to Catherine, Tom (and a sort of witch-exorcist that Tom brings in), but for some reason, not to Colby. This is a flaw in the story – since she wants Maggie and Colby to get together, why doesn’t she show herself to him and eliminate that roadblock?
But by far the biggest flaw is the lack of trust Maggie holds for Colby, and conversely, the continuing trust Maggie places in the Jack Kilbourne, the governor of Ohio, the man who ruined her life – the man not deserving of her trust. It’s incredibly frustrating to read a book with such tremendous promise that gets stuck in a rut like the needle of a record player gets stuck in a groove and plays the same song snippet over and over again.
Colby deserved far better than what Maggie gave him throughout most of the book. Gorgeous, smart, and full of tenacity, he summons up tremendous patience to win Maggie’s heart. While we’re privy enough to Maggie’s heart and mind to know she’s worth it, readers might wonder why Colby worked as hard as he did to win her over. And, if that question lingers at the end of a romance, it wasn’t successful, at least not in my book.
Publication Date: 1999
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