The Reason is You
Do you like stories with ghosts? Make that a hot, sexy, male ghost. Then this debut novel may just fit the bill. While it had many things that I really liked, including strong family relationships, it had too many others that I didn’t. In the end, this was just an average, albeit different, book for me.
Dani Shane left her small, rural Texas hometown of Bethany when she went away to college and hoped never to move back. When at 40 she’s laid off from a good job in Dallas, she has no other resources, so she and her 16-year old daughter Riley are forced to move back home and live with her father.
This isn’t one of those stories where everything is wonderful in the small town. Dani never fit in with the other kids and was alternately bullied and shunned by her schoolmates. At a low point during high school, Dani began seeing Alex, a hot “older” man who she soon discovered was a ghost. Alex saved Dani from complete loneliness and was her only friend. Dani never saw Alex once she left Bethany and figured he was gone for good.
Within minutes of arriving at her father’s Dani discovers that her daughter can see dead people too; problem is, Riley doesn’t realize the people she’s seeing are dead. And the dead person Riley is currently seeing is Alex.
All the old longings Dani once had for Alex come crashing back, mixed in with the complication of Riley. Should she tell Riley that Alex is dead? And if so, how? Dani doesn’t want Riley to go through the difficulties that she did being “different” and growing up in Bethany. Alex pushes Dani to tell her daughter immediately.
Dani soon is entangled with many of the town’s residents. She takes a low-paying job at a bait/fishing guide shop owned by the interesting, but complicated, Jason Miller. It’s dislike at first sight for Dani and Jason, but that gradually changes. Most of her high school nemeses still live in Bethany; once they discover Dani’s back they taunt her once again. It’s clear that while they’re now 40, they haven’t left high school behind.
I liked some of this a great deal, but found myself rolling my eyes at other parts. I found Dani and Jason’s characters interesting, and Riley fascinating. I initially liked Alex but thought the parts about his death were over-the-top. I would have liked a lot more Dani and Jason and a lot less Alex.
It felt as if the author didn’t know what she wanted to write: light paranormal romance, women’s fiction, or gut-wrenching paranormal. As a result, we have a mix of each. Should Alex and Dani’s relationship be treated as light comedy, with talking to ghosts played for laughs? Or should it be treated as gut-wrenching drama when we learn about Alex’s past and how he died. In the end, this part of the book felt very uneven and overly melodramatic, making it difficult for me to grade. While a promising debut, it ultimately proved to be just an average read.