Anne Calhoun in the past - so that was enough for me to give The SEAL's Rebel Librarian a whirl. The results were decidedly mixed.
Erin Kent is an academic librarian still recovering from a divorce. Tired of hearing her ex-husband's disapproving voice in her head, she decides she's going to do the things she's always wanted to do. First on the list? Buy a motorcycle. Jack Powell is a former SEAL with PTSD and a case of bad nerves (he has tremors in his hands, doctors haven't found any physiological reason for them - hence, PTSD) and he's now at loose ends, post Navy. He's taking a class at the college where Erin works and they meet through her work at the library. What follows is an attraction, a Neither Of Us Is Looking For Serious "relationship," and Jack helping Erin with her adventurous bucket list, which also includes sky-diving.
I hesitate to mention it given that I read an ARC that has been languishing on my Kindle since earlier this year and I did not have access to a final copy - but this story had serious editing issues in the beginning. A prime example? In one scene Jack is driving a car, then riding his motorcycle, then he's back in the car but wearing a helmet and then when he gets home he finds his motorcycle in the garage. Yeah, that's not good. My library didn't have a copy of this and I'm too cheap to buy a final copy to check to see if the errors were corrected - so just take this as a warning. The editing on the ARC was problematic.
I liked Erin a lot and for those of you who care about such things - the "library stuff" was good. I got a huge kick out of seeing EBSCO mentioned in a romance novella, dork that I am. I was less enthralled with how Jack's story wrapped up - namely that his tremors magically seem to vanish in the end, which he chalks up to helping Erin live out her thrill seeking. Even though the tremors aren't physiological - this smacks way too much of Being Cured By The Love Of A Good Woman for my tastes. In the end, I liked her and this is a sexy enough read but mostly....meh.
Final Grade = C+
The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James was a recent listen on audio and it's my second "read" by this author after her debut novel, The Haunting of Maddy Clare. In just three short years between those two books, I feel like this one shows tremendous growth for her as a writer.
Ellie Winter is a spirit medium who no longer contacts the dead and instead specializes in helping people find lost items. She's contacted by the mysterious (MI5) George Sutter after his glamorous sister, a medium, Gloria Sutter is murdered. Brother and sister were estranged, but Gloria left him a note prior to her death instructing him to seek out Ellie - which he does. Ellie is compelled to help George because she and Gloria used to be friends - until the day that Gloria had Ellie's own mother debunked as a psychic. Ellie's mother died shortly thereafter and needless to say the two friends fell out.
Once again the setting is wonderfully drawn (1920s London), the world-building keen, and St. James uses the ghost of World War I to optimum effect. Romance comes into play in the form of our hero, a former soldier who works for an outfit that investigates reports of psychic phenomenon, and naturally he was part of the tests that ruined Ellie's mother (and by some extension - Ellie). The mystery here is also quite compelling, which I found more advanced and layered than the author's debut. The one thing holding me back on totally loving this story was Ellie's relationship with the dead Gloria. I...well, I just didn't see these two as friends. I get that Ellie latched on to Gloria because finally she had met someone (who was not her mother) who was a "freak" like she was - but Gloria is just so....unpleasant. I mean she's vain and narcissistic and just not very nice (even if she does say some pretty smart things). Other than being Just Like Me in the psychic department I couldn't for the life of me figure out why or how these two were friends. But everything else? Top notch. If you like Gothics you need to be reading St. James.
Final Grade = B