“Widow Audrey Magill is prepared to begin a new life in some ways but definitely not others. Formerly a successful tax accountant she has thrown this all over to pursue her dream of making hats. Yes, hats. In Kentucky the right hat could net a milliner thousands of dollars just prior to the start of Kentucky Derby Days. Thus Audrey has purchased a house in the center of town to serve as both residence and business. Her grand opening is just days away and she is looking for just the right odds and ends to give her shop the right air. That is how she winds up in an antique store where she comes across a portrait she just has to have.
No the testosterone laden portrait is not the thing for her ultra feminine shop, but the subject of the painting had called out to her, and when she’d discovered that its subject, Riverboat Captain Silas Summerfield, had once owned her home and the price had mysteriously become affordable she’d snapped it up. She soon learns that the sudden affinity for the portrait had been no accident. Captain Summerfield had returned from the great beyond to save his descendant Nathaniel’s soul. Silas’ ghost is bound to his portrait, so wherever it goes, so he goes as well.
Audrey of course is to be charged by the Captain with the task of saving said descendant’s soul, but she’s not at all sure she believes in ghosts. After all, if they truly existed wouldn’t her late husband, a police officer killed in the line of duty, have moved heaven and earth to be with her. Heaven knew, in the same position she’d have done so to be with him. But Silas soon convinces her to visit his great, great many times removed grandson and in spite of her better judgment she finds herself in Nathaniel Summerfield’s office trying to persuade him to scrap a multimillion dollar real estate deal. It doesn’t help that Nathaniel thinks she’s a fruitcake or that he stirs emotions in her that not even her beloved husband ever had. He’s insufferable to boot. Audrey returns home unsuccessful and Nathaniel strikes the deal.
But the instant the ink is dry on the paper, Nathaniel gets a strong sensation in the middle of his chest and it’s clear to him he’s lost something important. From that moment on he experiences a bone chilling cold that nothing can warm except for the touch of one Audrey Magill. The attraction between them is undeniable. Unfortunately Audrey is still very much in love with her late husband. She still wore her wedding ring on her finger and Sean’s class ring on a chain around her neck. Can Nathaniel convince her to move on with her life? Can she help him to recover his soul?
In a neat little twist Silas, who had sired a son from an indiscretion, married as a result and lost the wife he’d barely known in childbirth, finds a sweet little romance of his own. Audrey’s neighbor Cecilia had been demoralized and abused by her husband and had fled, flitting from town to town in hopes that he’d never find her. Something about the Kentucky town had called to her to stay though she’d still eschewed any contact with heterosexual men. When Audrey hires her to staff her ultra-feminine boutique it’s the perfect situation. At first she can hear Silas but cannot see him but as the two get to know each other her heart opens her eyes. Silas was a true gentleman, nothing like her husband and being insubstantial he is totally safe. Only in her dreams can the two enjoy romantic interludes. Ms. Bevarly however does not whip up a hokey scenario to send Cecilia back in time or for Silas to materialize in the flesh. Still it was a delightful little side line and I’m not really sure which romance I enjoyed more. At times the main romance seemed a little one sided
I have to say that I didn’t think as much of Audrey’s late husband as she seemed to. He came off as selfish in bed and could have at least come in person to let her know that he was cool with her getting on with her life. It was painfully clear that Nathaniel would be the true love of her life and the reader will be glad that she finally realizes it. There’s a nice little mystery to be solved as well as the pair works together to figure out exactly why Nathaniel’s soul went missing after signing the contract.
READY & WILLING is a nice little contemporary romance with a fun paranormal element. It is a follow up story to FAST & LOOSE a straight contemporary romance which also involves the Kentucky Derby. ~ reviewed for PNR Reviews