My Lady Ghost

Allison Weatherby and her mother–both widowed and impoverished– would have been in trouble without the generous care of Thorne d’Aumont, Marquess of Silverthorne. Having grown up with him and his cousin, James Betterton, Allison has always trusted Thorne completely. She might just be falling in love with him . . . and she thinks, he with her. Then, one night, Thorne proposes the impossible: to make Allison his mistress–but not his wife. Affronted and disillusioned, she flees Thorne’s household . . . perhaps to her own destruction.

Meanwhile, the d’Aumont family is rumored to have a fortune concealed in the crumbling castle on their property. Scores of people–including Thorne’s father and brother–have perished in their attempts to locate it. Indeed, the fair-haired ghost who appears at the castle is rumored to be malevolent, luring innocent people to their deaths. Now, the Silver Lady is beckoning to Allison.

My Lady Ghost is the third book in June Calvin’s Ghost Series, all three of which I have already read. The first book is My Lord Ghost, the last, The Ruby Ghost. Since I read The Ruby Ghost before My Lady Ghost, I didn’t realize how closely the three books were tied to each other, both by character and location. In this book, two characters (James Betterton and a French maid) play bigger parts than in My Lord Ghost.

Unfortunately, Calvin’s series suffers from a mid-trilogy slump. My Lady Ghost is disjointed, unlike the other books in the series.

Of course, I was intrigued by opening of the book: Allison thinks that she and her protector are falling in love. They have chemistry. They care for each other and have a long-standing friendship. But for some unfathomable reason, Thorne is so set against marriage that he offers to make Allison–a widow he thinks is barren–his mistress.

That is the beginning of one kind of book. Allison and her mother respond in an appropriate fashion: they flee to the country-side, preferring to live in poverty than in shame. A number of amusing scenes follow, including one in which cousin James, a budding rake and wastrel, mistakes Thorne’s words and thinks that Allison is in love with him (prompting a comical marriage proposal).

However, My Lady Ghost is also another kind of book: a Gothic ghost story.

This is where Calvin’s plot begins to fall apart. She’s created two characters who have insurmountable obstacles (Thorne’s are logistical, logical, and motivated entirely on family lines; Allison’s are based on revulsion about his offer of a carte blanche). However, Calvin has also created Silverthorne Manor, the haunted home of the hero, and Allison is the only one of the cousins who can see the ghost of the Silver Lady.

Somehow, Calvin must get Allison to Thorne’s property, and therein lies the problem. I in no way believe that–as horrified as Allison was by Thorne’s insult–she would willingly go live near him, once more under his care. Her reputation has already been harmed, and she would only be hurt more by such an action.

So, here we are with two books in one. Each book is effective. I thoroughly enjoyed the Gothic ghost story. I also enjoyed the affronted heroine/misguided hero setup. But they just don’t go together.

The good part is that Calvin’s ghost story takes up the majority of the book. That almost allowed me to forget the misguided beginning. However, as in many of these romances, the misunderstanding between the protagonists could have been cleared up by a single conversation. Moreover, Thorne’s assumption that Allison is barren–based on one comment when she was grieving her husband–makes him look like he’s holding the “idiot ball.”

Having read The Ruby Ghost before My Lady Ghost, I can also say that the two books are too similar, and the former is a stronger effort. That may have prejudiced me against My Lady Ghost even more. Penelope Jones and James Betterton are more compelling than Allison and Thorne.

I don’t recommend My Lady Ghost. Readers of Calvin’s Ghost Series would do better to stick to the first and last book, leaving this pale imitation on the shelf.

My ratings:

Story Quality:
Character Chemistry: