Title ~ Stumptown Spirits
Author ~ E.J. Russell
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Published ~ 16th May 2016
Genre ~ Paranormal M/M Romance
What price would you pay to rescue a friend from hell?
For Logan Conner, the answer is almost anything. Guilt-ridden over trapping his college roommate in a ghost war rooted in Portland’s pioneer past, Logan has spent years searching for a solution. Then his new boyfriend, folklorist Riley Morrel, inadvertently gives him the key. Determined to pay his debt—and keep Riley safe—Logan abandons Riley and returns to Portland, prepared to give up his freedom and his future to make things right.
Crushed by Logan’s betrayal, Riley drops out of school and takes a job on a lackluster paranormal investigation show. When the crew arrives in Portland to film an episode about a local legend of feuding ghosts, he stumbles across Logan working at a local bar, and learns the truth about Logan’s plan.
Their destinies once more intertwined, the two men attempt to reforge their relationship while dodging a narcissistic TV personality, a craven ex-ghost, and a curmudgeonly bar owner with a hidden agenda. But Logan’s date with destiny is looming, and his life might not be the only one at stake.
Normally when one sees a paranormal tag on a book one knows one can expect shifters, or vampires, those being the two species most popular with paranormal writers, but this book is about ghosts and, as such caught my attention from the beginning. Now I personally am about as psychic as the stump in Stumptown but I’ve known people who have seen inexplicable things and see no reason to doubt their word. If there are spirits I just hope they are fairly benign.
In the case of this book, however, they aren’t. Logan Conner can attest to that. During his college years ,he and his friend and roommate messed around with things they should have left alone. Logan escaped, traumatised, but his roommate disappeared off the face of the earth. Cue a lot of suspicion and an investigation of murder with Logan as the prime suspect. Ever since, Logan has been determined to undo the wrong that was done, but couldn’t see how. Eventually he gives up and allows himself to fall in love. Two years later he gets information that changes everything.
As far as Riley is concerned he and his boyfriend Logan have everything going for them. Then Logan walks out on him and Riley is devastated. His faith and drive ruined he drops out of school and takes a job on a rubbish TV show as an advisor. Riley is a delight, such a sweet character, and I loved his interactions with his friend Julie, the stage manager for the show, and even with Max the pompous pretentious front man whose understanding of anything that didn’t bolster his own ego was non-existent. This side of the story was a super ensemble piece with strong performances and some great relationships. Maybe this was why I had to strain a bit to understand why Riley would be so invested in Logan, a man who betrayed him in a very cruel way at a crucial moment in his career. Logan is handsome, but handsome is as handsome does and he treated Riley abominably.
But that aspect of the romance apart I enjoyed the plot very much, especially where the cynical sceptics on the TV show are put in a position of having to face something genuinely eldritch and terrifying with life changing consequences at stake. The peril felt real, the ending wasn’t one I could guess and there were some very entertaining set pieces along the way. Great fun.
Meet E.J. Russell
E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.
E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.