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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Haunts of the Heart by Barbara Scott

Haunts of the Heart by Barbara Scott
Publisher: Aspen Mountain Press
Genre: Historical; Paranormal
Length: Full (211 pages)
Heat: sensual
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

Deanna Butterworth escapes the pain and indignity of dying in a heartless hospital by fleeing to her beloved but now abandoned childhood home. Expecting to be alone, she is surprised to find it haunted by two very lively ghosts. Neal, an amiable if confused spirit, steals her heart. But it is Anthony, desperate to hide his dark secrets, who threatens her soul. Snatched away to the past, Deanna uncovers the treachery that bound Neal and Anthony to her house since their deaths in 1864. Will she be willing to pay the price for their release?

Escaping the confines of the hospital, Deanna finds herself back inside her old, boarded-up home and in the company of two ghosts, Neal and Anthony, from the Civil War era.

Barbara Scott lures the reader into a confusing world where loneliness and revisiting the significant happenings of their past lives haunt Neal and Anthony relentlessly—haunts that Deanna is drawn into as time passes.

While they all have a history with the old house, Deanna was not yet born when Neal, Anthony, and Jessie (Anthony’s wife) used the house as a hospital in the waning days of the Civil War. Theirs is a compelling story that reveals astonishing trust, loyalty, and love, all of which Anthony uses and abuses for his own desires.

Deanna, with her low self-esteem, is nurtured by Neal and demeaned by Anthony. In a fit of pique, she breaks the antique glass case that holds the journal about the lives of Neal, Anthony, and Jessie during that war-torn era. At this point, the story shifts to Civil War time. The journal tells of horror and misery in the hospital where they tended the wounded Union soldiers. It also triggers Neal’s memory and causes Anthony much anxiety.

Barbara Scott evokes a multitude of emotions and raises questions like—can a person truly love two people?—does one person have the right to decide who lives and who dies?—is the “Angel of Death” good or bad?—and so many more.

An unexpected and delightful humor emerges when the old house is sold to become a bed and breakfast inn. Finally, self-effacing Deanna (well, her ghost) becomes assertive. Yea!

Haunts of the Heart, while a ghost story, is also a story with intriguing characters whose traits run the gamut from wonderful to horrible, from manipulative to gullible, from hateful to loveable, and more. Barbara Scott’s unique style is interesting and memorable. She is an author to look for when seeking good historical/paranormal reading.