A Man of Many Talents
Deborah Simmons
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A Man of Many Talents
Deborah Simmons
320 pages
June 2003
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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Miss Abigail Parkinson has recently inherited a dreary mansion from a distant relative. Abigail, who previously had served as a companion, wishes only to sell the bleak monstrosity quickly so that she may use the funds to set herself up in a cozy little home with a garden, as has always been her dream. However, Sibel Hall seems to be inhabited by the most unwelcome ghost of a purportedly long-dead ancestor. Abigail really doesn’t care who he is, nor does she believe in him, but the cousins currently residing in Sibel Hall certainly do. They prove no help at all when prospective buyers repeatedly run off in fear of the ghost. What is a young woman to do? How does one go about removing a ghost, anyway? Desperate, Abigail appeals in a letter to Lord Moreland, who Abigail knows has recently uncovered the “ghost” at Belles Corners -- an all-too human ghost.

Christian Reade, Viscount Moreland, on a long overdue visit to his elderly grandfather receives a forwarded missive requesting his help in routing a phantom that has been plaguing Sibel Hall in Devon. Totally uninterested in seeking out more ghosts, Christian wants only to rebuild Bexley Court, his home which recently burned down. Caught up in the study of architecture, he only wants to study plans for his new home and is interested in neither ghost hunting nor young women whom he thinks may be desirous of a husband. However, scolded by the old earl, Christian hastens to Sibel Hall to be of service with the intention of getting in and out as soon as possible.

Abigail proves to quite formidable with her governess appearance and stern demeanor, yet there is something definitely intriguing about her that soon stirs Christian’s interest. Believing her to only be interested in studious, scholarly young men who wear spectacles, Christian himself takes to wearing spectacles and doing research in the library concerning Sibel Hall. Although trying hard to fight any attraction to the Viscount, Abigail is having difficulty resisting his charms, finding him very intelligent, brave, daring and so very attractive behind those spectacles. Christian is soon exploring tunnels and caves searching out the “ghost” with Abigail by his side, completely undaunted by any danger they might face as long as it is together. Christian can’t help but seek out the luscious curves beneath the governess garb that Abigail wears, nor can he resist her courage and loyalty. The young lord knows that Abigail is in imminent danger and from a very real human, someone who is mostly likely a member of her very own household, and he has no plans to leave until he knows she is safe.

In A Man of Many Talents, Deborah Simmons has written an engaging “ghostbusters” tale starring a witty, clever, attractive hero and a beautiful mysterious heroine. Abigail is actually so mysterious that I never really got a feel for her character until the last part of the novel when she reveals more about herself and her feelings, while Christian is almost like a delicious open book. The secondary characters, particularly Abigail’s cousins, were much better developed than Abigail, the heroine. Simmons’ premise is a good one – who can resist a good ghost story with romance thrown in for good measure? While I did enjoy this book, I found it very hard to get into; the first half of the book is dry and the pace slow. Fortunately, the pace does pick up in the second half, with adventure and romance in abundance. Fans of Deborah Simmons will no doubt be pleased.

© 2003 by Vivian Outen for Curled Up With a Good Book

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