So Reading the blurb for this one I went into it expecting what it suggests. A ghostly Halloween Romance. It had all the makings of a good story but it didn’t quite lift off the page for me. It started off well but then it just seemed to amble on into directions that didn’t set the tone in the way that I expected.
The premise starts of good. Jake lost his partner five years ago and since which has travelled down to his home town to relive his memory. The drive down has a few flashbacks to their first visit there which is fine and sets down the connection of him and Dylan, his passed partner. But ultimately since I knew the story was about Jake and Patrick it felt like it lasted a bit too long. I knew what the author was trying to do but seeing as the real memories or connection were in the town I would’ve felt more connected to Jake and Dylan had these memories been trigged as he did things that he used to do with Dylan once he had arrived at the town.
A good example of this not working was when he bumps into a tour guide, that Jake doesn’t even remember, and then the guide tells a story about Dylan and his father from back when Dylan was a boy. And although this was a nice anecdote about Dylan, it wasn’t a connection between a living love, Jake, and a passed one that directly connected them to the present day. So I couldn’t directly associate it with Dylan and Jake as a couple. Seeing as he is travelling back to relive memories and is trying to let go, or even struggling and refusing to let go more triggering things like sitting at their favourite spot by the ocean, or doing things alone that they used to do together and having flashbacks of those times would’ve established their connection more. A good example of this done right was him going to the same ice cream parlour that they went to. Which, if I remember correctly, happened shortly after this thing with the guide. Now that I could’ve used a lot more of.
Then there’s patrick. So much about how he carries on is odd. How is he touching someone on the face, asking them if they are okay, and all up in the personal space of a complete stranger? It’s safe to say I was triggered by this. And this was very early on in the story. My biggest problem here was I had to reread it a few times and I still couldn’t find the signals of Jake being off enough to require being asked if he was alright, let alone having some strange man caressing his cheek. Jake not reacting badly and telling him to step back also seemed odd. My feelings on this were later confirmed when his own best friend mentions how he is always violating personal space. Even the side characters think this is odd.
Also there’s the other bit about the lamp. After this whole thing about them being twin lamps and Jake’s aunt has one the normal human reaction would’ve been to say “I wonder if that’s the lamp my aunt sent to her friend or if it’s just some coincidence it ended up with you” to which jake would’ve been like well that would be cool. And, him being a writer, could’ve joked about it being destiny and he couldn’t have written it better especially since he writes horror and not romance. It would’ve been a very normal and relatable conversation where people find random things about themselves that are in common or join them together and speculate if it is indeed coincidence or something more.
So he goes to his aunt and there’s a lot going on with the side characters and his aunt and I’m waiting for Patrick to come out with it. I mean there’s some talk about it but he doesn’t outright ask what was the name of the friend she gave the second lamp too. Which, for most people, would’ve been the first thing on the agenda to find out if it is indeed the same lamp. But nope. I was so ready for him to go back to Jake like you won’t believe it, your aunt is that same friend. Isn’t that great! It seemed really odd not to tackle such a good plot point and all the avenues in which this could be used to bring the two main characters together.
Then, on top of that, his only excuse to not persue Jake is he is a client. Sigh. This argument never holds weight. You’re renting out your house to someone you find hot. Claim that emotion. If a relationship happens it happens. If a steamy week of passion happens, so be it. If you learn you have zero emotional connection but still find them hot, again have that fun. The amount of okay and totally acceptable situations I can come up with are mind-boggling. The idea that he can’t persue him is odd enough for both his aunt and best friend to think its rediculous. As an introvert presently not telling the person I want a relationship with I want one I’m perfectly well aware I’m a dumbass and should speak up so it always baffles me that people can’t embrace their argument is stupid and just that they don’t have the guts to do it. And, if they do have the courage unlike punks like me, then just do it. Hit or miss at least it’s out there in the open.
So now that I’ve dropped some personal angst in here the other thing about the earlier personal space violation is that Jake, later on, encounters a situation that makes him say he was raised in New York and knows how to handle himself. Yet, on that same token, for someone so streetwise about strangers during a simple walk, he let one just a chapter earlier not only violate his space but caress his cheek without so much as a flinch. This made it hard to attach to this short streetwise passage.
Then another inconsitancy was when Patrick was talking to his besty who runs a bar he very specifically says that he is drinking to have liquid courage to deal with Jake. However before he leaves he also says he needs to sober up a bit because he doesn’t want to appear like he’s been drinking. Sigh. He’s an adult, if he needs liquid corage who cares if it looks like he’s had a drink. Adults have drinks with friends, it’s totally normal. But the real issue was if he’s going to wait for the effects to wear off then what was the point of attempting liquid strength in the first place?
And for someone not wanting to try and be with a client, he definitely gave off I think I like you vibes with how he interacted with Jake. Jake did as well.
I think I came into this expecting a story about how maybe the ghost of Jake’s past may have been reincarnated into Patrick and was waiting for this ghostly angle to manifest itself seeing as it is literally in the title. It never took off though, or maybe it did in the second half that I didn’t get to. Then I also expected more triggering sitings in the town that directly associated Jake to his past with Dylan and how together they interacted with Dylan’s home town when he was alive. And I love me a large cast, but with all the interesting plot angles, mainly the lamp connection and the fact Jake is a horror writer and the ghost of Dylan’s existence is everywhere he looks, the time they were alone wasn’t maximised to push how these things brought them together and how they were going to move forward based on these circumstances. And, as to the large casts the two main ones, Patrick’s aunt and his best friend probably could’ve done more to push the narrative and conversation purely based on the lamp connection. I know I would’ve told my bestie to pursue that as a good icebreaker and get the feelers out to see how Jake responds.
There were just too many good ways considering the set-up of this story and the framework it exists in that could’ve played out but it just didn’t happen in any of those avenues. Without a real feeling of ghostly things happening, not enough balance of Jake connecting to Dylan and trying to move on to Patrick at the same time, and with Patrick using the overused ‘but they are my client’ trope and finding something more substantial and using the information he learned about Jake to propel them forward, this story just didn’t lift for me so I stepped out about halfway through. It might be a good fit for others but for me, it just couldn’t hold my interest unfortunately which is a shame because I was so ready for a ghostly, slightly deeper, romance based on what the blurb suggested/promised. Reuiniun is in the title after all and that whole aspect of what this story is about just didn’t play out fast enough for me.
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