A Ghost in Shining Armor

Grade : B
Reviewed by Maggie Boyd
Grade : B
Book type : Contemporary Romance
Sensuality : Warm
Review Date : September 28, 2022
Published On : 09/2022

While not listed as such, A Ghost in Shining Armor is the second story in a duology about two sisters who are separated at a young age and only learn about each other in adulthood. However, you don’t have to read the first book – And They Lived Happily Ever After – to enjoy this one.

Before I get too far into this review, I want to clarify two things. The first is that as the title clearly indicates, this novel deals with ghosts and the afterlife. The second is that it does so in an oblique, non-religious manner and that the extremely mysterious powers that be which run this capricious world are referred to simply as They.

Gemma Daniels sees dead people. It began on her eighteenth birthday, when one of her high school teachers popped into her room after his sudden death and asked her to aid him with some unfinished business. Since then she has been helping ghosts find closure and move to whatever comes after. There is also a unique side-affect to the gift – she can help others see ghosts, too. If Gemma interacts with a ghost in public, they will become solid and real to other people for the length of that interaction.

Levi Walker devoted his life to helping his family. When his mom walked out on them, his two-year-old sister and grieving father were in no position to handle things, so Levi stepped up and took over. When They meet with Levi after his mortal accident, he is told his sudden and tragic death can be averted provided he helps Gemma deal with and fix some emotional issues within the next three months. He eagerly signs up, anxious to return to where he should be.

Levi is just supposed to be observing Gemma as she celebrates with friends at a bachelorette party in a dive bar. However, a challenge from her fellow drunken attendees has Gemma walking over to him and claiming a kiss. Levi doesn’t typically kiss strangers but he is supposed to help Gemma, so of course he gives it his all. Both of them are stunned by the heat that fuels between them once their lips lock. And both of them are stunned that that one moment has caused a big problem. Levi is now corporeal and needs a place to live, food to eat, showers – in short, he’s human once more. They provide him with a hotel for a week but not directions as to how to fulfill his responsibilities or what he should do while living in this reality without money or paperwork. Fortunately, Gemma lends a hand. Once his time is up at the inn, she lets him stay at her place, providing him with food, clothing and shelter. Living with her certainly helps him have plentiful chances to fulfill his mission but it also provides a stumbling block. Levi finds himself falling in love and isn’t sure he wants to go back to a life that doesn’t include Gemma.

This is a light tale with a lot of under-the-surface depth. We have the sweetness of the love story, combined with the whimsical humor revolving around Gemma’s gift – I literally laughed out loud when her high school teacher first appeared – and the heavier issues that Gemma and Levi are dealing with. Gemma has recently found out that she has a sister. When her parents adopted Gemma, they left her sibling in foster care and then chose to lie to Gemma about it for decades. Levi has lived his whole life for his family, and being with Gemma has made him realize that doing so has made everyone happy but him. Now that he finally has a chance at some joy for himself, he struggles with the idea of leaving it behind to return to a caretaker role that no longer satisfies him. Their unique situation enables them to open up to each other more than they typically would to a near stranger, an intimacy that fuels both their growth as a couple and as individuals.

The strength of the narrative lies in the charm of its leads. Gemma is funny, sunny and sweet. Levi is grumpy and stern but cares about literally everyone around him. Simply put, both are really good people who always put others first. Levi has lived in a holding pattern for years, giving his all to his family and in this life, giving to Gemma, her friends and neighbors. Gemma has been near perfect, determined to prove to her parents that they made the right choice in adopting her. Neither of Gemma nor Levi has been true to themselves, neither feels free to say “no” to anything asked of them. It is only by seeing the pain of the inability to carve out a bit of your life for yourself in each other that they are able to start working on healing that pain in themselves.

The attraction/tension between them starts from that first volatile encounter and intensifies throughout the book, even though they’re both trying to fight it. Gemma and Levi are aware he will (likely) be leaving and are also concerned that anything more in their relationship than what was outlined by the mysterious They may jeopardize both their futures. A large part of the story is watching them juggle their strong feelings/desire for each other against common sense.

My only quibble with the story is that it suffers from a mild case of what I call the “terrible toos”. In this case, the story felt too dense and heavy at times, which made the humor fall flat occasionally. It also had too much going on – Gemma has parental/friendship issues to deal with PLUS falling in love, PLUS working out the problem of her sister. Levi has to help her resolve her issues and deal with his own family issues, PLUS all the problems that crop up because he died, PLUS worrying about all the problems that would occur if he didn’t handle post-life existence properly, PLUS falling in love. That’s a lot for a relatively short book.

In spite of the above listed hiccups, A Ghost in Shining Armor is a sweet, heartfelt novel. It’s not perfect but I would still recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary stories and doesn’t mind a bit of a paranormal twist.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent retailer

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Maggie Boyd

I've been an avid reader since 2nd grade and discovered romance when my cousin lent me Lord of La Pampa by Kay Thorpe in 7th grade. I currently read approximately 150 books a year, comprised of a mix of Young Adult, romance, mystery, women's fiction, and science fiction/fantasy.
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