Spirit of Love
Spirit of Love is an entry in the Jove Haunting Hearts series, which suggests what to expect: a fairly light story with a ghostly slant. And indeed, this is what the book promises. I started reading anticipating a fluffy Western with a broad humor element, as well-bred Georgina heads West to deal with her supposedly insane, actually haunted grandmother, and falls for the local sheriff.
Georgina Witherspoon has grown up in New York City society, one social step below the famous “Four Hundred.” She is semi-engaged to a nice enough fellow, but her hankering for adventure bursts forth when a letter from her Aunt Vernice arrives, begging for help with Georgina’s unmanageable grandmother out in New Mexico territory. Georgina gladly volunteers to go.
Upon arriving, she immediately encounters Ash Barrett, the sheriff, who Georgina finds disappointingly unlike the sheriffs in the novels she reads. Georgina, however, is all too like Ash’s mental stereotype of a city gal, as she nearly wanders into a passing bank robbery.
You can see where this is going – mismatched lovers having to overcome their assumptions about each other, and bickering in the meantime – and for a while it’s fun. But like that cute kid who only knows one trick and does it over, and over, and over again, it wears thin. These two don’t do anything but bicker. Imagine Moonlighting without the mystery plots. And Ash hangs onto his city-girl stereotype (he had a wife who was a city girl, see, and she hated it out on the frontier) for far too long.
And Georgina is. . .spunky. Sometimes that’s good, as when she cheerfully adapts to farm routine and learns what she needs to know. She genuinely likes frontier life and her adventures “learning the ropes” are fun. But a little spunky goes a long way. Pulling a gun on Ash when he tries to call off an attempted seduction is a little too spunky for me. Why is this cute and funny because the heroine does it? What would we think of a hero who pulled a gun on the heroine?
Ash, on the other hand, turns out to be a lunkhead. He won’t admit his own attraction to Georgina, but if anyone even resembling a possible suitor comes into view, he immediately wants to beat them up or shoot them. Not a good trait in a sheriff, let alone a lover.
And then there’s the ghost. He’s the dead lover of Georgina’s grandmother, whom he is haunting because he never could commit to marrying her. He alternates between preachy in an annoying manner and whiny in an equally annoying manner to every character who comes within range, all in a folksy Irish accent. I did like the calm, warm-hearted maiden Aunt Vernice, and the cranky grandmother. They and many of the secondary characters were charming and fun, and presented an interesting, if not always completely believable, image of small town frontier life. Rachel Wilson also does a good job of keeping the story moving. If she could take out a large dose of the annoying qualities in her characters, I’d read more of her work.
Spirit of Love has enough good to keep it from being a complete wall-banger. But I was with the grandmother – if I had to listen to that ghost’s whining and Ash and Georgina’s fussing much longer, I’d have been throwing crockery too.
|Review Date:||November 10, 1999|