Nom de Plume Rating: ★★★★★
Reading Time: 5 minutes
*FTC Disclaimer: I received a copy of Haunted Souls from Kathryn Knight in exchange for an honest review. I have in no way been influenced by the author and/or publisher's generosity. You can't fake these stars, baby!
Four years ago, Emily Shea and Staff Sergeant Brett Leeds agreed to part with no strings attached. Sparks flew during their brief affair, but fate intervened, sending Brett overseas. When an unexpected pregnancy derailed Emily's own plans, her attempts to locate Brett were soon overwhelmed by the challenges of single motherhood. Now, Brett has returned home, and Emily is forced to share her secret.
Despite feeling betrayed, Brett is determined to forge a relationship with their son, Tyler. As the former lovers battle both their inner demons and their mutual desire, another presence enters their lives—Tyler's imaginary friend. Soon, however, the chilling evidence points to a different conclusion: a ghost has formed a dangerous connection with their son. Emily's attempts to help both a lost soul and a friend in need spiral toward a deadly confrontation, and Brett must race to save Emily before he loses her again—forever.
First Line: "The car door slammed, the sound echoing through the open windows like a warning shot. This was it."
Haunting. Forbidden. Dangerously sexy. Haunted Souls is the perfect balance between saucy and spooky, and contemporary and thrilling. Oooo the deliciousness!
We are first introduced to Emily Shea and her son Tyler. Where is Tyler’s father, you ask? Well, he doesn’t know he’s a father… yet. 😏
(Entering) Conflict #1: Emily must tell her 2 week fling from years ago that he’s a father! Yippee!
He kept calling her “Em,” too… Very soon he’d be back to calling her “Emily,” she realized with despair. Or perhaps something more along the lines of “You selfish bitch.” Actually, military life had probably taught him much more original derogatory terms, all of which she deserved.
Let me just say that Kathryn Knight is not holding back, here! This story begins arms flailing intersecting the tracks of heartbreak.
Brett is a soldier. A dreamy, hunky, MAN-O-SOLDIER! He is not expecting his one almost-love asking to see him only to tell him he's had a son for the past 3 years. YaaaOK so Emily could have done a little better with the timing. Forgive, and channel your inner Doris Day, Brett! #QueSeraSera
As Emily and Brett muddle along trying to decipher each other and their new parenting roles, their son seems to be taking everything well. Too well, almost. Of course Tyler is taking it well! He is too focused on his imaginary friend to be worried about his parents. Besides, Tyler is all about sharing… and Tyler told his “friend” that they can share his mommy.
Tyler’s new friend is, indeed, a ghost. But this ghost - albeit a creepy one - is kind and protective... but that doesn't mean things don't get dangerous! He’s a lost soul latching onto any type of love and affection.
So now we have Conflict #2: Emily must now deal with her son and his imaginary friend they somehow picked up.
Oh and there’s Conflict #3: Emily’s girlfriend is being abused by her husband.
Let’s not forget conflict #4… and #5… and #6… yes, Emily is in quite the conundrum. As one issue closes, another opens.
The most devastating dissension is that Brett doesn’t believe Emily when she tells him about Tyler’s new… err-friend. (Oh no no, Brett. You can’t screw this up now!) On top of all of this, Brett can not help his feelings for Emily as their explosive chemistry returns for round two. Brett may be falling in love with Emily, but how is she going to convince him to believe her? Love and trust are two very different things. How are they going to get rid of this ghost who’s become attached to their son? How is Emily going to help her girlfriend on top of her own issues?
Emily isn’t the only one with issues, though. Brett has demons he is harboring from the war. Haunted by nightmares consisting of his friends dying in front of him, he becomes violent in his sleep. He refuses to sleep near Emily and Tyler for their safety, and he also refuses to tell them why (which causes an entirely new string of conflict).
A normal relationship would never be a possibility. At the very least, his screams would continuously deprive anyone near him of regular sleep…
Emily, Brett, Tyler, Tyler’s “friend,” Emily’s friend… they’re all haunted in different ways and trying to find liberty. Unfortunately, fate wants Emily to suffer the most in this process, and all of these conflicts merge and apex on top of her.
Friends. FRIENDS. This book is incredible and it has a beautiful undercurrent of tension and desire. Through the constant undulations, Emily’s character transitions from a state of fear, to empowerment. Brett parallels this transition and goes from doubt to trust. Kathryn Knight presents us with layer upon layer of delicious tension, and this ghost ends up being a catalyst to everyone finding happiness.
Honestly, I was expecting exorcisms, demonic possessions, and military ghosts… *snort* don’t judge me. I got something so completely different and satisfying! This ghost-friend of Tyler's isn’t violent, or mean (even though he causes a lot of problems), but he seeks love, and this spirit inevitably and involuntarily helps everyone find absolution. Kathryn is tasteful in her portrayal of every character, the writing is immaculate and elegant, and OOOOO gaaawd this is one heck of a steamy romance!
Undeniable tension, and resolve. Haunted Souls emanates everything a ★★★★★ read should be!
I wouldn’t mind having a ghost follow me around if he helped me find love. Oh-la-la! Kathryn Knight, draft me up one of those! 👻