Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review: If the Spirit is Willing by H.D. Nels

if the spirit is willingTitle ~ If the Spirit is Willing

Author ~ H.D. Nels

Publisher ~ JMS Books

Published ~ 17th September 2016

Genre ~ Paranormal M/M Erotic Romance





When Martin Provost comes out to his family, his parents accept him but, surprisingly, his twin sister does not. On his way home, Martin’s car is hit by a truck that crosses into his lane. He survives the accident, but barely -- he is unresponsive.
Anthony Carsen is a widower trying to deal with his partner’s suicide. He lives near the scene of Martin’s accident and rushes to help, though he thinks he might be too late.
Though Martin’s body is in a coma, his spirit is drawn to Anthony, and soon the two fall in love. But Martin’s isn’t the only presence in Anthony’s home, and soon other spirits make their presences known.
Martin isn’t dead, but his life is fading fast. Can Anthony convince his spirit to return to his body? Will Anthony’s late partner leave him and Martin in peace to pursue their love? If the spirit is willing ...

 Cheryl’s Review

There are a lot of good things to be said about this book. It’s a sweet love story based on an interesting premise. There are a lot of strands that could be confusing but are woven together well. I have often criticised books where things link too neatly and that could have happened here, but in this case, I think it works.

My main gripe is that there is no emotional depth at all. This makes the characters come across as wooden, and I think that’s unfair to them because they are, or could be, very endearing characters. Even the ghosts are well rounded and I was particularly taken by Agnes.

There were lots of lovely touches and snippets of information – I particularly liked the one about how, when the Gulf Stream wanders close enough to Halifax, it brings fish from the Carribean. They’re little anecdotes that add nothing to the story but bring richness and help us see the character’s thought processes. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough of them to allow me to get a grip on the thought process of any of the characters, which did make them a bit samey and that’s a shame.

I found the plotline fresh and interesting. The pacing of the story was good and kept me interested throughout. However, there was an issue with setting in time. I found myself getting frustrated that things were happening too fast, for example the talks about taking Martin off life support, then discovering that when I thought only days had passed, it had actually been weeks. This pulled me out of the story more than once.

Overall, the characters were consistent, but I did find dialogue strained sometimes and the characters occasionally came out with things that made me think, would they really have said that? These are all young, professional people who seem bubbly and fun, so would they really say things like “even your spirit exudes genuine character”? I don’t know, maybe that’s the way twenty-seven-year-olds speak. It’s been a while since I was there.

I wanted to like this book because I enjoyed the story so much. It really is something new and could be exciting, but the writer lets the characters down in not giving them space to explore their emotional side. A lot goes on under the surface and nowhere is any more than lip service given to how the characters actually felt about things, and always at a distance. I could forgive the head hopping, the sometimes stilted dialogue and the timing issues if only there was more warmth, more up-close-and-personal genuine emotion going on.

One example. Martin is boss of a small company where he becomes aware homophobia is raising its evil head. Martin decides to come out at work and that he should come out to his family first. This was presented in a very business-like way. There was no mention of how he felt about it. Was he nervous, worried about how his parents would react? Or was he confident he’d be accepted? The was a brief mention he was nervous in the car on the way to his parents’ home but nothing at all through the meal and in the lead up to the event – or non-event. His parents accepted immediately but his twin sister didn’t. There was absolutely no emotional fall-out. He had a very brief conversation which involved what would his sister tell her friends who had the hots for him, no tears or tantrums, raised voices or gut wrenching disappointment, anger or grief. It felt like he shrugged, said “Oh well then,” and left.

There were so many missed opportunities for drama and nice touches to give depth and take away the stiffness, but I felt I was kept at a distance the whole time, as if I were the ghost, seeing things happening but not being able to engage.

That being said this was certainly not a bad book. As I mentioned, I really enjoyed the story and it’s a sweet romance with a lot of nice touches. What didn’t cut it for me might be the making of it for someone else. If you’re looking for an easy read, with some drama, a good story and a sweet romance, and are willing to forego deep emotional connection then this may very well be the book for you.

One thing that did come through strongly was that the author was fond of the characters and wrote them with affection. This gives the story some warmth, which it wouldn’t otherwise have had.

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