Have you ever read a book that you just really wanted to like? Where something about the plot, or the characters, or even the setting just got you all excited about it? Or maybe a friend read it and has been singing its praises from the mountaintops. So you read it. And you keep reading it. And while you are still waiting for it to get good, you realize you finished it, and that good bit? Never happened. Unfortunately, that’s what happened for me with Restless Spirits.
Marilee Harper seemed like the perfect heroine – incredibly imperfect and stressed, but confident in her abilities and in herself. She starts the novel in rather dire straits – she may have accidentally burned down her best friend’s brand new house – and is about to lose her job. Luckily, her mother has a potential new job all lined up for her, she just has to meet the new boss, John Smith. John has confidence in her ability to manage the new bed and breakfast he’s opening, with her strong (and bossy!) personality, but less confidence in his ability to keep his hands to himself.
And that doesn’t even factor in the ghosts.
Let me start with those ghosts. That bit was really fun. We get to see John playing catch with a ball that would, literally, turn itself around and come diving back. The balls bounce from room to room (occasionally going after a wayward guest), and listen to Marilee when she outright commands them to obey.
Sadly, that was the only part I really enjoyed.
In a romance novel, you are supposed to want the couple to get together – that wonderful HEA moment – and I never got that with Marilee and John. Honestly, I found him condescending and patronizing most of the time, and rather obnoxious the rest. There is a moment early on that he scolds and shames the heroine for getting angry about something that was done over her head – perhaps she overreacted, but the way he spoke to her just infuriated me. The fault in the scenario was with her mother, but as the manager, Marilee is well within her job description to take care of the problem, but instead we have John calling her a bitch. Definitely not hero material in my book.
And speaking of her mother, she is a whole other bag of crazy. She’s stressed due to her health issues (and I totally understand that), but she just won’t listen to her daughter, not even for a moment, and is convinced that not only is her way the right one, but that it’s the only one. And there are times where she just seems downright mean. I don’t like her. I really, really don’t. And she’s presented as a good guy!
While I felt for Marilee, I really did, she makes poor choices and reacts badly in a lot of the situations. She is alternately bossy and strong, and then replies meekly when someone calls her on it. I really hate when being strong is equated to being a bitch. And I hated her reactions to it. She’s the least self-confident character I’ve read in a while, which was surprising when that was supposed to be one of her selling points.
Not to mention the foreshadowing that is both obscurely subtle and heavy handed (like getting hit by a 2×4) all at the same time.
I did look around, and other reviewers seem to have enjoyed this one. Maybe they are seeing something I didn’t – maybe you would see something I don’t if you try it. But in the end? There are others in this particular genre that are much better.
It’s really too bad – I was hoping this one would be a keeper.