When Beth Albright comes to Hoblington Grange to perform a paranormal investigation, she is blissfully unaware that her client is Sam Aston-Wilkes, her first love. In the gathering storm that greets her, the house she has come to examine seems almost alive, and the terrible pressure only grows when Sam reveals the heartbreaking truth about why he broke up with Beth. He seems determined to protect her by any means, even if he can't protect himself, yet all she wants to do is solve his problems. Problems that could cost Sam everything... Beth’s doubts about whether she can fix the shattered heart of the man she never stopped loving begin to increase as the forces of the Grange, both past and present, close ranks to influence Sam and Beth’s destiny. Will they make it through the storm, or will their love be doomed to fail, as those who have gone before them?
Jessica Raymond’s short novel is a heady mixture of romance, supernatural and thriller elements that gel together into a satisfying whole. Of the three genres, the emphasis is on the romance throughout, and it’s here that the author is at her best: she carefully crafts two entirely believable characters, who must overcome obstacles – both external and self-made – in order to find happiness together. The author’s special touch is in making her characters feel real, and it’s the little things that do that; for instance, their mannerisms and personal quirks. Jessica Raymond proves to be a mistress of the art of description and there are many beautifully written scenes in the novel; descriptions of eyes glinting in the moonlight are guaranteed to send a shiver down the spine of any reader. The sexual tension is palpable throughout and the overwhelming emotion of the story makes some scenes intensely romantic.
The paranormal aspects of the story will be familiar to fans of modern ghost-busting television programmes (e.g. Most Haunted) and the author goes for subtle moments rather than outlandish spirit manifestations. As a result these scenes are all the more believable. The end of the novel contains multiple climaxes as our hero and heroine find themselves facing their deepest fears and the intervention of a violent sub-plot makes for edge-of-the-seat stuff. Throughout the novel there is a great sense of location and atmosphere. Hoblington Grange is almost a secondary character in itself; the description of cobwebby attics and hidden priest-holes is a great plus for any mystery lover.
The hero, Sam, is tormented by what he feels to be a personal flaw, setting the scene for many anguished moments as he is forced to confront his past and come to terms with who he is as a person. In contrast, Beth is a heroine who has just the right balance of assertiveness and loveliness. Jessica Raymond splits the narrative so that the reader shares the point of view of both hero and heroine, and the technique is pulled off effectively, adding to the overall emotion of the storyline. All in all, Haunted Hearts is a top-notch romance with an added frisson of paranormal intrigue to entrap any reader.
Jessica's book can be bought here