Footsteps of the Past (Second Chances #2) by Felice Stevens

footsteps of the past

This title may be purchased from Amazon

It was like in the movies: their eyes met from across the room and they fell in love.
Nine years later, Chess and André are the envy of all their friends.
But this is real life….and things are never what they seem.

Still waters run deep—the better to hide Chess’s ugly past. He’s worked hard to bury the troubled teen he once was and is living a life he never imagined possible. André’s love is a gift that makes him believe in second chances, and Chess is grateful for it every day. The only thing he wants is what André finds impossible to give: his time. Six months apart might be the breaking point, even for Chess.

One horrible night changed André’s life forever. Formerly a party boy of the Hamptons social scene, André buries himself in work for years until he meets Chess and learns to enjoy the simple things. He’s tired of being away from home all the time and ready to step down from his role as CEO of the family business, no matter how they try and pull him back in. But old habits die hard…and so do memories.

Photos from the past and present surface, shocking Chess and André out of their carefully constructed dream life. They are forced to face the unthinkable: the love they thought would last a lifetime may be on the brink of falling apart. Secrets are exposed, opening a Pandora’s box both men hoped would stay locked forever. Now Chess and André face the hardest question: do you ever really know the person you’re living with?

Rating: B-

The first book in Felice Stevens’ new Second Chances series of contemporary romances – The Listintroduced readers to Elliot, Spencer, Wolf and Chess, four men in their mid-thirties who have been best friends since their college days.  Footsteps of the Past is book two, and although it’s probably not essential to have read The List before it, that book sets up the group dynamic and establishes their very different personalities as well as containing a sweet, sexy romance.  Of the four friends, only one of them – Chess Braxton  – is in a relationship when we first meet them all; Elliot is a hopeless romantic, Spencer is a self-confessed and unrepentant manwhore, and Wolf is taciturn and very reserved (these two take delight in needling one another and strike sparks off each other like nobody’s business).  Elliot got his HEA in The List; Footsteps of the Past is an angsty, relationship-in-trouble story featuring Chess – a university professor – and his long-term partner, André Webster, the CEO of an international, multi-million dollar corporation.

Their friends have long looked upon Chess and André as the perfect couple – #relationshipgoals.  They’ve been together for almost nine years and are as much in love now as ever, but over the past couple of years, things have begun to become a bit strained due to the fact that André has taken on all the responsibilities involved in the running of Webster Properties since his father’s death and is spending more and more time away from home.  When Footsteps opens, André has been away for six months, but while he misses Chess terribly, it’s hard for him to step back from the job, especially as his mother is depending on him so much and he knows how many employees are relying on him, too.  But he’s reached the point where he knows something’s got to give and, determined that that something is not going to be his relationship with Chess, André tells his mother that as the bulk of what he’s been working on is done, he needs a break and he’s returning home to New York.  To say she’s not pleased is an understatement.

Meanwhile, André’s prolonged absence has been difficult for Chess, not only because he’s missed him but also because it’s allowed all sorts of long-buried doubts and insecurities to creep back in to his psyche.  And when, just before André is due to return home, Chess is tagged in a post on Instagram (which subsequently disappears) showing photos of André kissing another man… well, those insecurities are only intensified.  Chess wavers between his deep down certainty that André would never cheat on him and wondering whether life with a mere university professor has become dull for a sophisticated, wealthy businessman like André… and even worse are those niggling whispers at the back of his mind telling Chess that if André were ever to know the truth of his past, he’d leave without a second thought.

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.

Running From My Heart (Rock Bottom #3) by Felice Stevens (audiobook) – Narrated by Michael Pauley

running from my heart

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Holding onto the past can hurt more than letting it go

People say six years is long enough to mourn the death of his husband but for Ross Miller, the pain is as fresh as if it happened yesterday. He’s left his glittering Hollywood life behind, yet guilt still dogs his steps, no matter how far he runs. Trapped by his past and needing to escape his well-meaning friends, he rents a cabin in the secluded Adirondack mountains. A reclusive man moves in next door and piques Ross’s interest, but his persistent attempts at friendship are rebuffed. That doesn’t stop him because the one rule Ross Miller has always lived by is to never take no for an answer.

Novelist Arden Wainwright has given up. He can’t pretend a happiness he knows he’ll never find again. Solitary days turn into years, and he remains frozen, unable to take a breath. At his wit’s end, he retreats to the mountains, but it does little to stir his creativity. He continues to hide from life and avoids his overly nosy neighbor, who insists on planting himself at Arden’s doorstep at every turn. Making friends is the last thing Arden wants, but annoying or not, he can’t get the damn man out of his mind.

Finding peace in their isolated surroundings, the two lonely men forge an unlikely friendship where they realize they’re more alike than different and better together than apart. With Ross’s help, Arden begins to rebuild the shattered pieces of his life, while Arden gives Ross the strength to face his fears and find his way home. When love comes calling you can choose to hide from hurt, loss, and pain, but if you take a chance and open the door, you might discover that running from your heart is the last thing you’ll want to do.

Rating: Narration: B; Content – A-

Running From My Heart is a beautifully written, deeply emotional story about love and loss and grief, about standing still and moving on and letting go and second chances; and while the characters have suffered traumatic, life-changing experiences, it’s an uplifting story full of love and hope that shows new beginnings are possible even when it seems as though life has nothing more to offer.

Note: This is the third book in the author’s Rock Bottom series, but it can be listened to as a standalone.

Movie director Ross Miller lost his husband Dominic, an actor, in a freak surfing accident some six years previously. It devastated him, but the face he presents to the world is one of a man getting on with his life; he’s outgoing, upbeat, funny, and has a steady string of bed partners – maybe for one night, maybe a few, but never more – but in truth, he’s just hiding his pain behind a veneer of normality that fools pretty much every one (even himself, most of the time) into believing he’s perfectly fine and happy.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Coincidence by Felice Stevens (audiobook) – Narrated by Kale Williams

the coincidence

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Nice guys always finish last, and Coby Epstein is sick and tired of being last. After his boyfriend dumps him, Coby vows to take it slow and not jump into another relationship, no matter what his 95-year-old great-aunt says. When Coby sees his ex has moved on, he goes on a series of disastrous first dates and swears off men, determined to be alone. His best friend disagrees and finds the “perfect man” for him online and arranges a date. The only problem? Coby has no idea what she’s done.

Since childhood, Eli Kaplan has been his father’s greatest disappointment, a fact he’s reminded of at every opportunity. For years, he’s struggled with the knowledge that dating women doesn’t work for him. A late-night confession to his brother changes everything and Eli realizes, maybe, just maybe, he can come out, find himself, and find love. Eli takes the plunge and creates a profile on a dating website, not knowing what to expect. One night he chats with an intriguing man, and despite his nervousness, they arrange to meet for coffee. No big deal. They’ll probably never see each other again.

On the day of their first date, nothing could surprise Coby and Eli more than to discover that they live in the same apartment building, on the same floor. In a city of eight million people, coincidences don’t get crazier than that. But as the two men begin to weave their lives together with cautious optimism and hope for a future, they find an even greater thread holding their families together – one born from the ashes of a final solution that couldn’t destroy their ancestors’ courage, leaving scars that remain almost a century later. Past lives torn apart can be pieced together by a future no one could have ever imagined, where love is more than fate or coincidence. It’s meant to be.

Rating: Narration – A-; Content – A-

My Felice Stevens glom continues with The Coincidence, a sweet, romantic and sexy standalone contemporary romance from 2019, in which two men – who start out as complete strangers – discover that their lives are more deeply intertwined than they could ever have guessed.

A year into his relationship with his boyfriend, Coby Epstein thought things were going really well and was on the point of suggesting they move in together – when the guy told him they didn’t want the same things and dumped him. Coby comes to see that he’d allowed himself to be treated badly throughout their time together, and decides that from now on, he’s going to take things slow whenever he meets someone he’s interested in – although right now, a new relationship is the last thing he’s looking for. His best friend Addie insists that the best way to get over the crappy ex is to get out there and have lots of hot, raunchy sex with other men – but that’s not really Coby’s style. He does, however, allow Addie to persuade him to sign up to a dating app, and even goes on a few dates. But they’re all pretty disastrous.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The List (Second Chances #1) by Felice Stevens (audiobook) – Narrated by Denis Lambert

the list

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Oops. He did it again.
Elliot Hansen has a terrible habit of falling in love with every man he dates.
His friends have had enough and make a list of Elliot’s perfect man.
That V…
Those abs….
Shouldn’t a boyfriend be more than the sum of his parts?
But when sexy detective Winston Rogers bursts into his bedroom to arrest a burglar, Elliot knows he wouldn’t mind checking one or two things off that list with him.

What if you had it all?
Five years after the death of his husband, Winston Rogers is single and determined to stay that way.
He throws himself into his job—the more dangerous the assignment, the better.
He can’t face another risk to his heart.
But then a routine arrest in his neighbor’s bedroom leaves Win searching for more than evidence as the man’s sweet smile and vulnerable eyes strike a chord inside him Win had thought gone forever.

Why not enjoy each other with no strings attached? Win and Elliot decide to make their own list.
Rule #1: Strictly friends with benefits.
Rule #2: No doing anything stupid like falling in love.
Rule #3….
See Elliot and Win ignore Rules #1 and #2.

Rating: Narration – B; Content – B-

The List is the first book in Felice Stevens’ new series, Second Chances, featuring Elliot, Spencer, Wolf and Chess, four men who have been friends since college, and who, in the fifteen years since they met, have become more than best friends – they’re family. The List is Elliot’s story, and it’ll be followed by Chess’ book and then… well, I have my suspicions 😉

Elliot Hansen has an unfortunate habit of falling in love with pretty much every man he dates. After his most recent break-up – with a guy who’d moved in with him, conned money out of him to start a business (which went nowhere) and then dumped him – his friends once again urge him to be more careful (read: less gullible), to try to protect himself a little more and not to assume every guy he goes out with wants the same things he does. They suggest he should stop looking to fall in love, that he should play the field and have some fun – but that’s not really Elliot’s style. All he wants – all he’s ever wanted, really – is to love and be loved. But he decides to maybe give ‘having fun’ a try – which is when Spencer jokingly writes a list of the things that would make Elliot’s perfect man… only the things he comes up with (hung like a horse, perfect abs, great ass) aren’t the things Elliot is looking for at all. Later, and more than a little annoyed at his friends’ not-so-gentle teasing, he crosses out all Spencer’s suggestions and adds some of his own – picnics, walks on the beach, long drives and days out at the zoo and local wineries.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Mr Uptight by Felice Stevens (audiobook) – Narrated by Kale Williams

mr uptight

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Jude:

What do you do when you wake up with a hangover and find yourself in bed with your best friend’s younger brother?

Who happens to be your new brother-in-law?

The man who drives you crazy.

The man who always skated by on fast-talk, good looks, and a bright smile.

The one who makes you want to break all the rules.

You hire him as your assistant, of course.

And pray you can keep your sanity.

And your hands off him.

Mason:

How do you prove you’ve changed?

That you’re no longer the party boy who always needed rescuing from his own mistakes – and boy you’ve made some big ones.

But no one needs to know your secrets.

You take a job with the one man who doesn’t trust you.

Who’s waiting for you to screw up.

You try and forget that one explosive night together.

Except you can’t.

And to your shock…neither can he.

What do you do when the one man you can’t imagine living with is the one you can’t live without?

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B+

Reading the synopsis for Mr. Uptight, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s one of those “oops, the guy I had wild monkey sex will all last night is my frenemy/best friend’s little brother/new boss” rom-coms – and to an extent, you’d be right. But while the story certainly does start out with one of those typically awkward morning-afters, it doesn’t take the cutesy, kooky path and instead opens out into a deeply emotional story about two men who don’t (think they) like each other very much learning to reassess their opinions of both each other and themselves.

Jude Staubman and his best friend’s brother Mason have never really got on. For years, Mason was the annoying little brother, and then he grew into the annoying little brother who continually needed extricating from his latest fuck-up – and even bailing out of jail on one occasion! He’s an irresponsible party-boy who gets by on his good looks, quick wit and charm; in short, he’s everything the sensible, serious-minded Jude isn’t… which makes the stupid crush Jude has had on him for years even more stupid. So waking up – naked – in bed with Mason the morning after his sister’s wedding is something Jude wants to pretend never happened. Along with whatever they got up to the night before.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals

Never Say Never (Lost in New York #3) by Felice Stevens (audiobook) – Narrated by Kale Williams

never say never

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

One taste leaves them wanting more…

INGREDIENTS:
Francisco “Frisco” Martinelli. Hot and spicy. Beautiful on the outside, dark and damaged on the inside. Handle with extreme caution.
Salvatore “Torre” Rossi. Sweet with a kick of spice. Gentle at first, can become swiftly and irrevocably addictive to the heart.

A RECIPE FOR ROMANCE
One snobby food critic who doesn’t believe in love
One down-to-earth food blogger who does
Add a touch of suspicious brother
A heaping serving of best friend who’s been waiting for this to happen

Blend with secret identities, past hurts, and judgments.
Stir in equal portions of desperate longing, desire, fear, and snarky humor.
Set over open flame, step back, and wait for sparks to fly.
Serve as is for an explosive love story that will leave you with a full heart and a ridiculously happy smile at the end.

Rating: Narration – B; Content – B+

Felice Stevens’ Lost in New York series comes to a close with Never Say Never, in which snarky restaurant critic and unapologetic manwhore Francisco – Frisco – Martinelli, best friend of Pressley from book one, Fool for Love, finds his HEA in a most unexpected quarter. It’s an angsty enemies-to-lovers (sort of) story featuring two men who have been burned by love – but while one of them is moving forward and getting on with his life, the other is stuck in an emotional limbo, unable – or refusing – to see how locking away the hurt and pain of a decades-old betrayal has changed the direction of his life and continues to inform his decisions. The mechanics of the basic premise are perhaps a little wobbly, but it’s worth getting past that in order to enjoy the rest of the story, which is a beautifully written and deeply felt romance.

Frisco is a food critic for Ultimate NYC, a glossy, up-market magazine “for the uber rich who can afford to Uber everywhere.” He tells it like it is and doesn’t hold back on his opinions, and his scathing reviews can make or break a reputation. For the last couple of years, he and Salvatore Grant, writer of the popular food blog New York for Real New Yorkers have been engaged in an online feud; Grant accuses Frisco of being an elitist, “a pompous, arrogant food snob”, pointing out that the restaurants he visits are way beyond the budget of most New Yorkers and that he favours the chic and the overpriced over the things that really matter – the food and the people who produce it. Grant’s blogs haven’t gone unnoticed by Frisco’s managing editor, who decides it’s time for him to broaden his horizons and visit some of the less exclusive places in the city. Which is how Frisco finds himself in an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn one evening, fully prepared to hate it – but is (somewhat reluctantly) impressed by the quality of the food, which has obviously been lovingly prepared from the freshest ingredients, the ambiance and the service. Especially the service provided by his waiter for the evening, a gorgeous guy with dark curls, a generous mouth and eyes the colour of the finest chocolate.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Promise (Lost in New York #2) by Felice Stevens (audiobook) – Narrated by Kale Williams

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

A promise made:

When Ezra Green sits next to Monroe Friedman in their high school English class, friendship blooms into first love, and even Ezra moving to California won’t keep them apart. Ezra promises Roe that once he finishes college, he’ll come home and the two will be together. In the meantime they’ll write and keep in touch. Nothing has to change.

A promise broken:

After months of unanswered letters, Roe makes one final attempt to contact Ezra with disastrous results. Ezra will never be his and he needs to move on.

Now, more than 20 years later, Ezra has come home. He doesn’t know why Roe stopped writing, but he’s determined to find out. But Roe won’t talk to him and Ezra doesn’t understand why. After all, Roe is the one who cut off contact. Isn’t he?

The promise of what is meant to be:

When Roe’s beloved grandmother suffers a stroke, the past becomes the present, and Ezra comes up with a plan. Pretending to be together to make an old lady happy should be no big deal, but after an unexpected explosive night together, decades-old secrets and lies are exposed, shattering Roe’s control and Ezra’s heart. Is first love only a dream and a promise merely words, or are Ezra and Roe meant to last a lifetime?

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B

Having very much enjoyed Fool for Love, book one in Felice Stevens’ Lost in New York series, I quickly jumped into book two, The Promise, a second-chance romance featuring Monroe Friedman, who runs the support group where Nate and Presley met in book one. We catch up with them briefly, and some of the other secondary characters have featured in other books by this author, but The Promise works perfectly well as a standalone.

Monroe – Roe – and Ezra Green were childhood sweethearts who were separated when Ezra’s parents moved their family from New York City to California when Ezra was seventeen. The guys were very much in love and knew they wanted to spend their lives together, so they promised each other that they would stay in touch, that Ezra would come back to New York after college, and then they’d begin their lives together. Things went okay at first and they exchanged letters regularly, but when, after a few months, Ezra stopped answering Roe’s letters, Roe scraped together the money to call him, only to be told that Ezra wasn’t interested in him anymore and that he’d started seeing other people. Needless to say, Roe was heartbroken at the discovery that the promises that meant so much to him meant nothing to Ezra.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Fool for Love (Lost in New York #1) by Felice Stevens (audiobook) – Narrated by Kale Williams

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Can there be a second chance for a first love?

When Presley Dawson falls in love with a married man, he knows it’s wrong but can’t help himself. For the first time, he’s wanted and desired and not so lonely. When his lover returns to his husband, Presley doesn’t worry. He always comes back — until he doesn’t.

Years later, Presley is stuck in neutral and lonelier than ever. He can’t forget his past and doesn’t know how to reach for his future. When his best friend suggests a support group to work through his grief, Presley agrees but without much hope; nothing has helped before. At the first meeting, he’s instantly attracted to Nate and struggles not to fall so far, so fast. He won’t be fooled again.

Nate Sherman is only attending a support group to get his family off his back. True, he hasn’t slept through the night in over three years, but he has reasons. Discovering your father — the man you love and idolize — is a liar and a cheater will do that. And dying in his girlfriend’s bed? No wonder Nate has trust issues.

Meeting Presley changes everything. Nate sees Presley’s sweet nature and good heart and when he sets boundaries for their relationship, Nate surprises himself by willingly going along. With Presley by his side, Nate is able to sleep again and find the trust that he’s lost in himself and other people. He can even fall in love.

But Presley is keeping a secret and if he tells Nate, it could be the end of everything between them. He knows it’s wrong to start another relationship based on a lie. But it isn’t a lie if you don’t say anything. Is it?

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B+

Felice Stevens’ three-part Lost in New York series opens with Fool for Love, a tender, poignant romance between two men who are struggling to deal with grief and loss. I really enjoyed both the story and Kale Williams’ narration, but I’ll say this now as I realise that for some it may be a deal-breaker: one of the leads was previously involved with a married man. There’s no cheating in this book, but that relationship does play a role in the story.

Presley Dawson is the owner of a successful New York antiques store, but for the past six years, he’s been stuck in a kind of limbo. When he was much younger and newly bereaved, he was floundering under the weight of grief and of being responsible for the business he’d inherited following the deaths of his parents. He was lost and lonely, until he met a man who made him feel wanted and desired – and he tumbled into love with him. They were together for a few years – until Presley discovered Jared was married and broke things off. But months later, when Jared reached out to him, telling Press how lonely he was and how much he missed him, Press took him back and they started seeing each other again – until shortly afterwards, when Jared was killed in a car accident.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

All or Nothing (Together #3) by Felice Stevens (audiobook) – Narrated by Nick J. Russo


This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

A past he couldn’t forget.

Adam Barton is living his dream of working as a firefighter in his small Texas town, but a tragedy from his youth continues to haunt him. He decides New York City is the perfect place to start a new life and joins the FDNY, living and loving his own way – no strings and nothing personal. Until he catches sight of Rico Estevez, the sexy chef with the mysterious smile who rocks his world. After one explosive night together, Adam craves another…and then another. The more he and Rico are together, the more Adam wants him.

A future he never imagined.

Rico Estevez is living a lie. For years he’s hidden his sexuality, afraid to hurt the career of his politically ambitious father. He’s the perfect American – the best schools, top of his class, and most importantly to his father, a successful businessman. Who needs a boyfriend when sex is so easy to find? Starting a torrid love affair with Adam Barton isn’t a problem; neither is looking toward forever. But Rico’s father is about to get the chance of a lifetime, and Rico feels forced to play by the rules.

Rules are made to be broken.

Adam proves more unforgettable than Rico ever imagines, but he gives in to family pressures above personal desires. When a fire reunites them, both men discover their passion for each other hasn’t died; rather, it’s stronger than ever. Want turns to need and something even more dangerous to their hearts – love. Adam and Rico know if they want to have it all, they can let no one and nothing stand in their way of a life together.

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B+

The third title in Felice Stevens’ Brooklyn-set Together series, All or Nothing is a sexy/sweet and emotional character-driven romance between firefighter and Texas-transplant Adam Barton and Rico Estevez, chef and owner of a growing catering business. It’s a simple story on a familiar premise, but the characters are well-rounded and engaging, and their romance is heartfelt, with just the right amount of angsty goodness.

Adam and Rico first set eyes on each other in book one, Learning to Love, when Adam was part of the firefighting team who attended a fire at the local synagogue. Rico hasn’t been able to get Adam out of his mind since, impressed by the courageousness of his dash into the burning building – and by his broad shoulders, red hair and piercing blue eyes. Rico knows that those All-American-Boy good looks are bad news; Adam has boyfriend material written all over him and Rico doesn’t do relationships. So he’s tried desperately to avoid the guy, even going so far as to hide in his office whenever Adam comes into the store to pick up something for lunch – until the day he’s not fast enough to get away, and Adam asks him out for a drink.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Ghost and Charlie Muir by Felice Stevens

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Bad enough the big old house Charlie Muir inherits is next door to Ian Gregg, the most gorgeous guy he’s ever seen—it also happens to be occupied by Rachel, the ghost who keeps running off his dates. It’s impossible to get any loving when the bed starts shaking…and not because you’re having fun in it.

When Ian helps Charlie search for the source of strange noises in his house, they stumble upon a stack of photographs hiding century-old secrets. Curious of the friendship between the two men pictured, Charlie and Ian set off to solve the mystery of their relationship. With the help of the meddling ghost, a magical mirror, and a way too Smart TV, they find answers…and more.

And as things heat up between Charlie and Ian, they begin to wonder if Rachel’s meddling has gone too far.

Doesn’t Rachel know Ian is straight?
Or is he?
That kiss they shared the other night sure didn’t seem like it.
Or the one after that…

Rating: C+

I’ve enjoyed a number of books by Felice Stevens, and when I saw she was writing something a bit different – a love story with a paranormal twist – I was intrigued and eager to read it. The Ghost and Charlie Muir is a cute and tender standalone romance, in which our protagonists are helped along the road to love by a (mostly) friendly spirit. The title is clearly a nod to the well-known film about the ghost of a cantankerous sea-captain who falls in love with his human ‘hauntee’, but the similarities don’t go much beyond the title and the inclusion of a ghost on a mission.

Charlie Muir grew up in the foster system, so he’s surprised to discover that he’s inherited a house from a great-great aunt. His hasn’t been an easy life – moved from home to home he was never able to put down roots or make friends, being openly gay meant he was often bullied and his adult relationships haven’t been stellar either. He’s learned the hard way not to trust and to expect the worst.

His neighbour, Ian Gregg, works as an electrician and contractor, but he also used to look after the garden of the house next door. Since Miss Muir’s death two years earlier, the place has been closed up and the garden left to go a bit wild, but he hopes that whoever has just moved in will take care of the beautiful trees and flowers he’s inherited. He’s working in his own garden when his new neighbour introduces himself and offers Ian a drink – and Ian is caught unawares by a sense of familiarity… which makes no sense, as they’ve never met before.

Also making no sense is the prickle of attraction that sizzles through him when their hands touch in a simple greeting, or the way Charlie appears to be surrounded by a strange golden glow… Ian puts it all down to his still being hungover from the night before.

As they talk, Charlie mentions that something weird happened the other day when he brought a guy home. He tells Ian how the bedroom lights started flickering on and off, the chandelier above the bed started swinging back and forth and when the mirror fell off the wall, Charlie saw the face of a woman dressed in old-fashioned clothes staring disapprovingly back at him. Ian stops by to check out the wiring the next evening, and after doing that, offers to help Charlie to go through the stuff he’s found boxed up in the bedrooms. Exploring the attic and the upstairs further, they find a tiny, hidden room, and in it an old, locked box which, when they manage to open it, contains an Army death certificate for someone called Edward Robinson. Later that night, Charlie has a dream or vision of himself yet not himself – Edward – crawling through mud as screams and the sound of gunfire rend the air. And as it fades, images of Edward kissing another young man – Robert – followed by the appearance of the woman from the mirror, who informs him that he and Ian have much work to do.

Neither Charlie nor Ian can see what a decades-old story can possibly have to do with them, but the more they learn about Edward and Robert, the more intrigued they become and soon, they’re eager to find out what happened to them, two young men who were so clearly in love with each other but unable to do anything about it.

And as that love story progresses, so does the one between Charlie and Ian.  Ian has always been something of a ladies’ man and has never been attracted to men, but there’s something about Charlie that draws him in and makes him start to question things he’s always believed about himself, and to admit that there’s been something missing from his past relationships with women.  But something about Charlie just does it for him; and although it takes him a while to get his head around it, once he’s accepted that, he doesn’t freak out and is fully open to exploring the burgeoning feelings he has for Charlie.  The difficult part is going to be convincing Charlie that Ian really does want to be with him for more than sex;  Charlie has been there, done that, fallen for straight guys who only wanted some action on the side, and it always ended badly – sometimes even violently – for him.

Charlie and Ian are likeable characters, although Charlie is generally too passive, and his non-existent self-esteem has him coming across as overly needy and even, dare I say it, a bit whiny.  He’s sweet and he’s been through a lot, so his mass of insecurities make perfect sense, but his tendency to expect the worst was tiring at times, and there was one occasion I really wanted him to stop acting like a kicked puppy. Ian, on the other hand, is a live wire.  He’s outgoing and confident, but once he realises he’s all in for Charlie, is prepared to wait for him to catch up and realise that Ian wants to be with him for real.

On the downside though, the story is quite repetitive in places, and while I appreciate a slow burn, the trips to clubs and the ghostly interference and sabotaged dates were repetitive and felt like padding.  And although I really liked the idea of the two parallel love stories, the significance of Edward and Robert’s story is very obvious very quickly, and I didn’t understand why, if it was so important for Charlie and Ian to know their story, it was doled it out piecemeal rather than being told in one go. Okay, logically I know why not – if that had happened, that there would have been no book.  But once the ghost had their attention, whether it was by showing them visions of the past on the TV or in dreams, or by simply talking to them face-to-face, there was no reason I could see for it to be dragged out over several visits.

I liked the premise of the dual love story, but it didn’t quite work, and the ghostly shenanigans weren’t as spooky or as funny as I’d hoped.  The Ghost and Charlie Muir kept me entertained, but the repetitiveness and a rather wishy-washy main character keep it from earning a recommendation.