- Read my review of the first book in the Ghostly Guardians series, Spirited Situation
Haunted houses tend to fall under the purview of New England when such stories are set in the United States, so I’m having fun with this slightly random but exceedingly haunted Midwest attraction. This time, one of our heroes is the man in charge of the estate (part hotel, part museum, part interactive experience, all chaos), and I spent a good portion of this book cringing on his behalf. But Kieran is dedicated to his responsibilities, so when one of his employees is possessed, he knows he’s got another problem to solve. I’d already hoped that the online demon expert we “meet” in the previous book would get to experience the ridiculousness of Mannix Estate in person, and I was not disappointed by his visit.
So far, everyone involved at Mannix Estate (even the ghosts and medium) have mostly muddled along with the supernatural elements at play. Connor, however, shows up with knowledge, experience, and attitude. The upside: He actually knows what’s going on and how to solve some of the new and residual problems haunting (pun intended) the house. The downside: He’s earned every bit of that attitude, which means he and Kieran immediately rub each other the wrong way (and not in a fun way). Masters does an excellent job of making sure that Connor knows he’s kind of a dick, which actually makes him a pretty appealing character. I sympathized with Kieran’s dislike of the other man, but only to a certain extent. The rest of the time, I was just as invested in the obvious sparks between them as all the other characters.
Connor’s introduction to a wider world of the supernatural and explanation of how the problems with this particular haunted house are far from over could have kept this novel tipped toward the urban fantasy end of the scale, much like in book 1. However, the “will they/won’t they” thread that winds through every interaction between Kieran and Connor keeps their potential relationship at such a low simmer that the “slow burn” trope places this book solidly on the paranormal romance side of things. And once the sparks do ignite, the steaminess is extraordinarily sexy even when the physical exchanges between the men could have seemed relatively tame.
This series works best when experienced as a package deal rather than two stand-alone novels. Masters may close out part of the bigger mystery set up in the first installment here, but she also does an excellent job of teasing much more to come – both on the supernatural side and for future potential relationships. I look forward to another adventure at Mannix Estate.