Jace Montgomery, a rich American, is still struggling with the suicide of his fiancée, Stacy, three years ago when he discovers a note sent to her just before she died,
indicating that she had visited a house in Buckinghamshire in England. Jace is trying to get to the bottom of why happy Stacy killed herself and ends up buying the house so that he can investigate further "in situ" (fortunately for him, and the plot, his grandfather is a billionaire and lends him the money).
When Jace arrives at Priory House in the village of Margate (no, not the port town of Margate in Kent, but apparently a very pretty and quaint village), he gets to know the locals, including his dragon of a housekeeper with her adulation of
British cook Jamie Oliver, his gardener Hatch, some other local people, and the local policeman who also doesn't believe Stacy's death was suicide. He also meets Nigh Smythe (short for Nightingale), a journalist who is taking some time out after a colleague was killed in Afghanistan.
Jace's cover story for arriving in the village is that he is investigating Priory House's resident ghost.
He soon meets the ghost, although it's not the female highwayman that the locals talk
of but instead a young woman named Ann who was about to be married to local lad Danny. The middle of the book meanders away from the plot as Jace tries to tempt Ann into appearing to him so that he can ask her about Stacy's death.
Of course, all the time that Jace and Nigh spend together, including traveling to the village in which Danny apparently went to live after Ann died, affects them, and they begin to fall in love.
Can they get to the bottom of Stacy's death, and can they find out how to make
Ann and Danny happy again so that they can stop haunting the house?
This book is perfectly acceptable for a light read. There are no really in-depth characters, the plot is very easy to follow, the stereotypical characters are just what you'd expect in an American-authored novel set in England, and the ghost element adds some amusement. The denouement
is surprisingly easy and the lead characters' declaration of love hardly unexpected.
As an Englishwoman reading a book set in my own country, however, there are some terrible errors which really should have been picked up by an editor. For example the English character Nigh says "she went toward the back, to the hill. One day I climbed the hill and there's a dirt road up there. I saw candy bar wrappers and some soda cans." Four errors in that we don't say "toward the back", a
"dirt road" would be an "unmade road," "candy bar wrappers" are "sweet wrappers," and
"soda cans" would be "fizzy drink cans." Another glaring error is the description of some food: "there was no great roast of beef with four vegetables, but a takeout of curry over rice;" we would say "no great roast beef" and curry would always be
"with", not "over", rice. These are just two examples of the inaccuracies littering the text where English people speak with American sentence structures much of the time, although at other times they speak authentic English.
Another reason that I feel this book is unsuccessful is the toe-curlingly cringy last two pages where the hero and heroine finally lay the two ghosts to rest in a rather... erm... horizontal way. Some rather twenty-first century views on the inappropriateness of dying a virgin
are forced onto a woman of the 1870s, and it just doesn't sit right.
For the most part, however, this book is an easy read with some amusing moments and a likeable hero. The setting in England might be fun for some (as long as it's clear that it is a very false view of England), and the slight supernatural element adds a certain something. However, it
is largely an unmemorable book and not one to inspire me to search out other books by this author.