Friday, January 28, 2022

A Plethora of Phantoms (Shades, Shadows, and Spectres #2), by Penny Hampson

Darkstroke Books, December 2021

Freddie Lanyon, eldest son of the Earl of Batheaston, heir to the title and to the beautiful house and estate of Lanyon Park, with a loving family, and enjoying the work of helping his father restore and maintain the old place after the depredations of the generation that preceded his father, has a problem.

Well, actually, two problems.

Lanyon Park is haunted, and Freddie can see the ghosts and sometimes talk to them. Some are friendly; some are not. The problem, though, is that his father is adamant that ghosts don't exist, so he really can't talk about it.

Freddie's other problem is that he's gay, and he's convinced that his loving, kindly, devoted parents will reject him if he comes out. He was badly bullied in school, by boys who sensed he was different. University was better, but not coming out limited his ability to make any really close friends.

Now, though, after several years working in London, he's back at Lanyon Park, enjoying learning about the running of the estate, and has purchased a lovely, antique, men's dressing case at an antique shop in Bath. He soon discovers, of course, that it's haunted.

Soon he's talking to Marcus Spender, owner of the antique shop, who was not in the shop when he bought that case from the clerk. Marcus hadn't intended to sell it; he'd just moved it down to the shop to keep it from causing problems while his sister was visiting, and to display it as an example of the thing in the Threadgold estate that he's selling off on behalf of widowed Mrs. Threadgold.

Marcus can also see ghosts. Marcus is also gay--and the two men are immediately attracted to each other.

What follows is part rom-com, as the men work out both their attraction to each other, and the conflicts and obstacles between them. And it's part paranormal mystery, as they try to learn why the spirit attached to the dressing case is restless and so deeply sad, and also why a darker, angrier spirit in the portrait gallery at Lanyon Park is so angry and hostile--particularly to Freddie and Marcus.

I really liked the characters, both major and minor, except the ones you're not intended to like--and they were mostly understandable. Even Freddie's brothers, Hugo and Xander, whom I was initially inclined to dislike, grew on me. It's funny and engaging, with some moments of real excitement and danger.

Overall, an enjoyable book. Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for reading and reviewing my book, Lis. I'm delighted that you enjoyed it!