A Gifts of Ghosts, by Sarah Wynde

12 Jan
Cover, A Gift of Ghosts; a field of dark clouds at the top, with two streaks of lightning coming down, and a three on the middle ground. Tag line: "Akira has secrets. So does the town of Tassamara."

I am not entirely sure why I got this one, though I have a vague memory of it being one of those, ‘this cute story is on sale right now, grab it’ tweets passing my feed in late December 2021, so I did. And it is a cute story in the “quirky small town” subgenre of romance, and honestly a refreshing take on paranormals.

If you want to skip the review, this is mostly a fluffy, just over category-length, 1 paranormal story with a romance tacked on.

A couple of warnings, though: there’s a history of physical child abuse, which is explained as loving concern (me: hell, no). There are also mentions of traumatic deaths for some of the ghosts in the story, including a suicide and the accidental drug overdose of a teenager.

A Gift of Ghosts, by Sarah Wynde

Akira has been seeing ghosts for most of her life, which has been a problem, because no one handed her a manual on how to interact with them–or the surviving relatives–and her own father had a very specific way of dealing with her psychic abilities, which was…see the warning about physical abuse. Akira doesn’t know anything about tunnels or lights, why some people become ghosts after death, or why some of those ghosts leave, some fade, and some become violent. She just sees and hears them, and tries very hard to avoid them.

So she’s pretty dismayed when, after moving across the country, from a California college town to a dot-in-the-map Central Florida town, for a pretty nifty new job as an autonomous researcher at an apparently small but well-funded private company, she realizes that too may of the people in Tassamara are weird in all sorts of ways, that too many of those who seem ‘normal’ know her secret, and that hey, they actually wanted her to move there to be…a medium.

Here’s the blurb:

Akira has secrets. But so does the town of Tassamara.

Akira Malone believes in the scientific method, evolution, and Einstein’s theory of relativity. And ghosts.

All the logic and reason in the world can’t protect her from the truth—she can see and communicate with spirits. But Akira is sure that her ability is just a genetic quirk and the ghosts she encounters simply leftover electromagnetic energy. Dangerous electromagnetic energy.

Zane Latimer believes in telepathy, precognition, auras, and that playing Halo with your employees is an excellent management technique. He also thinks that maybe, just maybe, Akira can help his family get in touch with their lost loved ones.

But will Akira ever be able to face her fears and accept her gift? Or will Zane’s relatives be trapped between life and death forever?

This is the first installment in the Tassamara series, and as such, there’s a bit of series set up taking space on the page, as we are introduced to the Latimer family, a number of ghosts, and a few of the ‘quirky’ inhabitants of the town for good measure.

The writing voice is engaging, so it was pretty easy to go along with the story on the first read, though there are a few things that left me scratching my head on the re-read .

Would you fly across the country for a job interview if you know literally nothing about the company that cold-called you with a job offer? Would you sign a two-year contract with them after a ten-minute interview during which they answer none of your questions? Even if desperate, it feels like the answer would be, “no way”.

On the other hand, if you do both, then it should be not that big a shock to find out that they hired you under false pretenses–though I would be not only angry, but also scared shitless, because these people have money and power, and *lied* to get me to a place they basically own and control.

And yeah, each of the Latimers she meets have their own psychic quirks, which I suppose could be somewhat reassuring, but would give have me seriously re-thinking that contract.

Akira is disappointed but not afraid, and that is one of a couple of false notes for me, that didn’t let me sink fully into the story, because we have been told that she’s nigh terrified of people knowing about her own quirk of seeing (and being able to hold conversations with) ghosts, but now she just settles in. To live in a house much too big for one person (that she shares with two ghosts), driving a rented car (that she shares with another ghost), working alone on pretty unstructured research, reporting directly to one of the people who lied to her: Zane.

Which brings me to a second false note, one that gave me pause during my one-sitting first read: after spending more han a few moments reminding herself to keep her distance from Zane, because he’s her boss, and he’s weird, and his family owns the company, and the town, and did I mention he’s her boss? Then, six weeks after she moves to Florida, she jumps his bones.

In his office.

From there, they’re in a relationship, she finds out more about his own psychic gift, learns more about ghosts, and about the other Latimers, and time passes.

As in, there’s a chapter sort of listing the things they do, where they go, for the next however many months, but we don’t see those things or spend that time with them.

By now you’ll have noticed that I’m writing almost exclusively about Akira, and that’s because even thought this is a romance, and we do get Zane’s perspective in a few passages, the story is mostly about Akira, the ghosts, and what she learns about them.

And don’t get me wrong, it’s interesting, but it means that the romance is shortchanged. By the time the climax of the story happens, it’s a given that these two love each other, but mostly because we’ve been told they do.

And then the story ends.

Oh, there’s another chapter, that is really an epilogue that happens months later. But the story ends so abruptly, it’s disorienting, to be honest.

So this is a long review of a short-ish book that’s an easy, entertaining, and pretty forgettable read.

A Gift of Ghosts gets a 7 out of 10.

* * * *

1 The story proper ends on page 195, the last chapter-cum-epilogue adds another six pages.

4 Responses to “A Gifts of Ghosts, by Sarah Wynde”

  1. willaful 12/01/2022 at 2:40 PM #

    Two things about the Tassamara books (I’ve just finished the series): 1) Several of them end confusingly in a way you won’t understand until the next book, if then. 2) There’s less romance in each one. The last book has so little, and what there is kind of phoned in, that I suspect the author just really didn’t want to write romance anymore. Read them if you’re interested in Dillon.

    • azteclady 12/01/2022 at 3:17 PM #

      Yeah, not surprised by this.

      And I absolutely get not wanting to write romance, but what I get is a whiff of, “let’s hook romance readers and their $$$, then just move on” greed. It may be unfair, but it is what it is.

      And while I liked Dillon (and Rose and Henry) fine, I don’t think I’ll read any more of these, and probably nothing more by the author either, tbh.

      • willaful 12/01/2022 at 6:47 PM #

        Oh, I don’t get that sense. I think she’s a good writer and off the beaten track, not trying to cash in.

      • azteclady 12/01/2022 at 6:56 PM #

        oh, I am glad to hear that.

        And yes, she’s a good writer, with a very engaging writing voice. My expectations were set for romance, though, and here we are.

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