Fish and Ghosts (Hellsinger #1), Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Contemporary, First in Series, Ghosts, Humor, Paranormal
Length: 240 Pages
When his Uncle Mortimer died and left him Hoxne Grange, the family’s Gilded Age estate, Tristan Pryce knew he wasn’t going to have an easy time of it. He was to be the second generation of Pryces to serve as a caretaker for the estate, a way station for spirits on their final steps to the afterlife. The ghosts were the simple part. He’d been seeing boo-wigglies since he was a child. No, the difficult part was his own family. Determined to establish Tristan’s insanity, his loving relatives hire Dr. Wolf Kincaid and his paranormal researchers, Hellsinger Investigations, to prove the Grange is not haunted.
Skeptic Wolf Kincaid has made it his life’s work to debunk the supernatural. After years of cons and fakes, he can’t wait to reveal the Grange’s ghostly activity is just badly leveled floorboards and a drafty old house. The Grange has more than a few surprises for him, including its prickly, reclusive owner. Tristan Pryce is much less insane and much more attractive than Wolf wants to admit and when his Hellsinger team unwittingly release a ghostly serial killer on the Grange, Wolf is torn between his skepticism and protecting the man he’d been sent to discredit.
This review is spoilerish. I tried keeping spoilers out but found that I was unable to do so completely.
Wolf Kincaid of Hellsinger Investigations is a skeptic. He has made it his mission to debunk hauntings and things that go bump in the night. He has a successful business doing just that. A new client has hired him and his assistants to prove that Hoxne Grange, a large family estate, is not haunted and that the person who inherited it (the client’s nephew, Tristan Pryce) is crazy. The hiring of Wolf is done out of pure greed as the clients are angry that they were passed over when it came to the inheritance. Why would a nephew get the family estate instead of one of the other rightful (so-called) heirs? Wolf goes in with an (almost) open mind and agrees to do the investigation, get paid and get out. Only things don’t go quite as planned for Wolf and his assistants, Gidget and Matt. Gidget and Matt are a couple away from work and one bad argument ends up turning the investigation on its ear.
Tristan Pryce inherited Hoxne Grange from his Uncle Mortimer a decade or so earlier when Tristan was only nineteen. Uncle Mortimer was the only family member who understood – and accepted – the fact that Tristan was a little different, odd if you will. You see, Tristan has always been able to see ghosts and instead of discouraging Tristan’s “gift” Uncle Mortimer encouraged it. The Grange is not your normal family estate. It is set up as an inn for those who have passed so that they may have a safe passage to the other side. Each ‘guest’ checks in at the front desk and is gone after three days. There is never any variation with the timing. Tristan has never questioned anything that goes on at the Grange. He has merely accepted the fact that it is his duty to continue with what his uncle did. He signs the ‘guests’ in and makes sure they are comfortable during their stay before they move on to the other side.
Wolf Kincaid shows up and Tristan’s quiet and peaceful life go out the window. Not only do Wolf and his employees disrupt Tristan’s peaceful existence merely by being there, but Tristan starts to feel for the first time in his life. He is immediately attracted to Wolf and Wolf to him. This scares Tristan so he wants the other man to finish his investigation and get gone. Only something happens to completely shatter that and it almost costs Tristan his life. During a lovers quarrel between Matt and Gidget, Matt’s long dead, serial killing great-grandmother is unleashed on Hoxne Grange and its surrounding property. For the first time in Tristan’s adult life, he is scared of an entity inside the walls of the family estate. Wolf, Tristan, Matt, Gidget, and with a little bit of help from Wolf’s eccentric mother, the serial killing grandma is banished back to hell or wherever she came from.
The cast of characters are all interesting in their own way. While I can’t say I totally loved Wolf that much early on, he did grow on me as the story played out. I adored Tristan from the moment he was introduced. Matt and Gidget – hmm, I’m kind of at a loss with these two. They are a couple and I had a problem (or two) with their lack of professionalism while on the job a few times. Suffice it to say that they are allowed to get away with something that any other employer would have instantly fired them for. Throw in the fact that they were arguing quite loudly in front of a client (Tristan), an argument that ultimately led to Tristan’s home being invaded by a serial killing grandma. Then there is Meegan, Wolf’s mother. I liked Meegan immediately but I had a few issues with her handling of the “getting rid of Grandma” thing. She’s written as a professional in what she does (gets rid of ghosts, etc.) but yet she makes a major error. There is a ghost dog named Jack who kept me smiling and a ghost lady who shows up only once a week to be ‘hired’ as a cook. Then there is Mara, the housekeeper. There is a
not so secret about Mara that I picked up on immediately. There is the serial killing grandma who is about as evil as they come, as well as the nice ghosts who, like most hotel guests, steal the towels before being on their way.
There is a slow build with Tristan and Wolf and I appreciated that greatly. I’ve read other reviews where it’s stated that they fell in love too quickly for the reviewers’ tastes but I disagree. I think the timing of it all was perfect. The sex, as always with Rhys Ford, is hot as hell. The resolution of the story was a little on the strange side but perfectly fitting to the story.
I have been a Rhys Ford fan since I read Sinner’s Gin over a year ago. I enjoy her writing style, as not only does she give the readers a hot and sexy romance, but she infuses her books with a lot of humor. I’m big on both so her books always work for me. In Fish and Ghosts, we are given the sexy romance between two men, lots and lots of humor and a haunted house with a few ghosts – some good, some bad. The story as a whole is outstanding. I found myself laughing more than once and cringing a time or two as well. Rhys Ford writes sex well and the sex between Wolf and Tristan was pretty amazing. However, even knowing this is first in a series, I ended this with a couple of issues that may or may not be resolved in a future book. There is little by explanation in regards to certain things involving Tristan’s family. I feel like I needed more there as the entire purpose of Wolf being hired to do the investigation at Hoxne Grange was to prove whether or not Tristan was insane. There is mention in the book of what Wolf was going to do as far as the family is concerned but not what happened later. Saying anymore than that would be a spoiler so I’ll leave it at that.
Overall, this is another really good book by Rhys Ford. I like stepping away from my norm on occasion and I’m always happy when one of my favorite authors does the same. This isn’t your Cole McGinnis or Sinners Gin type of story so keep that in mind before you read it. There’s a bit of paranormal, a psychotic serial killing ghost and a slew of kooky secondary characters who are as entertaining as the two mains – some even more so. Lyrics from a Sinner’s Gin song are used in a very important part of the story. Those who have read the two books in the Sinners Gin series (as I have) will appreciate that.
Highly recommended if you are looking for something a little on the paranormal side. I look forward to the second book in the series. Rhys Ford is very good at leaving readers wanting more. Fish and Ghosts is no different.
This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.