The amnesiac ghost of a World War II pilot could be just what Alex Nolan needs.
The third in Kleypas’ (Rainshadow Road, 2012, etc.) Friday Harbor series follows the fortunes of the youngest Nolan brother. Emotionally starved by his alcoholic parents, Alex learned to trust no one. When his wife, Darcy, asks for a divorce, Alex doesn’t even ask why, because, of course, it was only a matter of time before she realized the extent of the damage to him. The breakup coincides with a steep economic downturn, which torpedoes his real estate development project, driving Alex to seek comfort in a bottle of Jack Daniels every night. Erasing himself bit by bit, Alex nonetheless begins helping his brother, Sam, renovate a beautiful home on Rainshadow Road. The moment Zöe Hoffman walks in the door with a plate of blueberry muffins, however, Alex realizes he is in trouble. Zöe is the gorgeous chef at a local inn, and, like Alex, she has sworn off love after a heartbreaking divorce and years of being seen as nothing more than a pinup girl. Abandoned by her parents, Zöe was raised by her loving grandmother, who will soon need round-the-clock assistance and a home with some serious renovations, which Alex could do well. Alex and Zöe are clearly meant for each other and predictably try to deny their obvious attraction. Luckily, Alex has also met the ghost, who has lived in the old house for over 60 years. Yet the moment Alex sees him, the ghost becomes instantly anchored to him, an unwilling witness to Alex’s alcoholic binges, an eager investigator of his own shadowy past and a believer in true love. Surprisingly, the ghost character works, allowing other magical events in the novel to seem less contrived.
A little magic, a lot of romance and well-drawn characters make a satisfying read.