Disclosure -- I obtained the Kindle edition of this book when it was offered free on Amazon. I do not know the author, nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter.
Trigger warnings, just in case:
Deaths of children, child abuse, suicide, abortion
The book started out fine. Akira Malone, physics professor, has jeopardized her academic standing with a paragraph in a research paper, in which she suggests ghosts may be a form of energy. She's now looking for another job, and lands one with a bizarre research facility, General Directions, in the small town of Tassamara, Florida.
Tassamara is a "quirky" little town, where most of the residents are "quirky," too.
Akira's quirk is that she can see ghosts. And there seem to be a lot of them in Tassamara. There's one in the rental car, for crying out loud!
I thought this was going to be a light, fun read. The writing was competent, if sometimes a little heavy on the telling and light on the showing, but it wasn't horrible. Akira was a likable character, and she didn't do stupid things just for the sake of the story.
Her boss at GD is Zane Latimer, the usual gorgeous hunk. He didn't seem quite as well developed at Akira, but I could live with that in a fluff book.
Unfortunately, A Gift of Ghosts didn't stay fluffy.
The ghost haunting Akira's rental car -- which she ends up leasing when she moves to Florida to take the job -- is of a 15-year-old boy. I had a bad feeling about that right away.
There are four more ghosts at the house she rents: an older man, a young woman who loves television and parties, and two little boys who play in the back yard. I had more bad feelings about the boys.
General Directions is owned by Zane and his siblings and his father, Max. Each of them has a "gift," too. Akira sees ghosts, but Zane can find things; his older brother Lucas reads minds; one of his sisters can see the future; and so on. Zane is frequently contacted by police and other investigative bodies to find missing things, like stolen property. Sometimes he's asked to find missing people.
The whole book took a very dark turn when Zane takes on a case of a missing toddler and his father.
Instead of his "gift" helping to resolve the mystery and return the boy to his grieving mother, Zane's inability to locate the boy suggests that the boy is dead, and points to the father as the killer. Akira steps in because she can see the boy's ghost. Well, at least it wasn't murder, but the father's death is suicide and the whole episode altered my whole attitude toward the book.
Of course the relationship between Akira and Zane becomes insta-lust, which didn't add anything to the story because there was no tension in the relationship. No complications, no nothing.
About the time they started having super-duper sex, I realized there wasn't a whole lot of emotional development in the book. There were plenty of opportunities for it, but the characters didn't seem to react appropriately to what seemed to be highly charged situations.
For example, the ghost in the car, Dillon, is Zane's nephew, who died of a drug overdose, apparently. But there doesn't seem to be much grieving or reaction, or even soul-searching about what went wrong.
So when another of the many ghosts in the book --
Zane's mother, Dillon's grandmother, who died of a stroke after Dillon's death
-- went into emotional overdrive and threatened Akira's life, I went into eye-roll overdrive.
I also found the ghostly debate over whether or not someone who had aborted -- or at least tried to abort -- an unwanted pregnancy could be forgiven by God and go to heaven rather than burn in hell to be a completely unnecessary distraction.
So it was a good start that kind of went in a lot of wrong directions, at least for me. I finished it, but I did skim quite a bit through about the last 20%.
BL-opoly Small town setting, 211 pages. $3.00