Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk

Spirits, #1

Source: Purchased rating

After losing the family fortune to a fraudulent psychic, inventor Henry Strauss is determined to bring the otherworld under control through the application of science. All he needs is a genuine haunting to prove his Electro-Séance will work. A letter from wealthy industrialist Dominic Gladfield seems the answer to his prayers. Gladfield’s proposition: a contest pitting science against spiritualism, with a hefty prize for the winner.

The contest takes Henry to Reyhome Castle, the site of a series of brutal murders decades earlier. There he meets his rival for the prize, the dangerously appealing Vincent Night. Vincent is handsome, charming…and determined to get Henry into bed.

Henry can’t afford to fall for a spirit medium, let alone the competition. But nothing in the haunted mansion is quite as it seems, and soon winning the contest is the least of Henry’s concerns.

For the evil stalking the halls of Reyhome Castle wants to claim not just Henry and Vincent’s lives, but their very souls.

After his family was conned, Henry is determined to make headway into the paranormal world with scientific inventions and logic/sense. He's paired with a relative who is 'colored', a controversy of the time when he fights for her equality. On the other end of the coin is another paranormal duo with their own baggage - Vincent Night is an Indian and used to controversy of his own, but he's also extremely gifted with spiritual abilities and ghost hunting. His companion has her own hidden story. Both are on the verge of bankrupcy, so when both teams are invited by an eccentric wealthy man to compete in a house to prove whether the talent versus science will win, all hell breaks loose.

The plot for this one was more than worthy. Convincing motivations and warring pairs who complement and work off each other. The mansion with its mysteries was an isolated, haunting setting that delivered the goods for creepy, ghost adventures. The overlying mystery of which ghost is who and what the ghost is up to is daunting and well-done. The finale at the end is a strong battle to the finish since the author gave plenty of steel behind a certain ghost.

There's intriguing world-building with the spirits, hauntings, and a strong balance of different types of mediums with different abilities. Jordan Hawk writes well with loveable characters, unique twists, and easily flowing dialogue. I love she included racial issues of the times on both teams, which complemented how unique the pairs stood out from society. I was annoyed with a character revealing a big secret/misunderstanding, but that worked well in the end.

I loved Henry, even if he is bumbling, stumbling and standoffish. His stubbornness can get on the nerves but he has redeeming qualities. Vincent as the handsome and flirting medium was an epic romantic interest. There's not heavy steam but I totally felt the chemistry to be legit between the two and was rooting for them all the way. Both had baggage but fortunately the author avoided angst and doom/gloom.

The only bad thing is I wanted more. A fun, rewarding book with humor, genuine tension and creative paranormal world-building, I highly recommend this one for m/m historical fans.

   Similar Reviews: