Review: Fish and Ghosts by Rhys Ford

fish and ghosts by rhys fordPublisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publish Date: December 30, 2013
How I got this book: eARC from the publisher

When his Uncle Mortimer died and left him Hoxne Grange, the family’s Gilded Age estate, Tristan Pryce knew he wasn’t going to have an easy time of it. He was to be the second generation of Pryces to serve as a caretaker for the estate, a way station for spirits on their final steps to the afterlife. The ghosts were the simple part. He’d been seeing boo-wigglies since he was a child. No, the difficult part was his own family. Determined to establish Tristan’s insanity, his loving relatives hire Dr. Wolf Kincaid and his paranormal researchers, Hellsinger Investigations, to prove the Grange is not haunted.

Skeptic Wolf Kincaid has made it his life’s work to debunk the supernatural. After years of cons and fakes, he can’t wait to reveal the Grange’s ghostly activity is just badly leveled floorboards and a drafty old house. The Grange has more than a few surprises for him, including its prickly, reclusive owner. Tristan Pryce is much less insane and much more attractive than Wolf wants to admit and when his Hellsinger team unwittingly release a ghostly serial killer on the Grange, Wolf is torn between his skepticism and protecting the man he’d been sent to discredit.
This blurb came from Goodreads

According to Ben Franklin (who sometimes seems to be the forefather of all American humor) “fish and visitors smell after three days”. At Hoxne Grange, the rule still applies, even when all the visitors are ghosts.

Unfortunately for Tristan Pryce, the current owner of the Grange, family stinks in a much shorter interval–without even having to visit.

It’s also been said, not by Franklin, that “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. One of the more sarcastic variations is that “where there’s a will, there are greedy relatives”, or something to that effect. Tristan inherited Hoxne Grange from his late Uncle Mortimer, because Tristan was the only one in the family after Mortimer who saw the ghosts that the Grange was built to serve.

Tristan comes into control of the principal of his trust fund at age 28, a milestone that is coming up very soon. It is in too many people’s interest to have Tristan’s belief in the Grange’s spectral guests proven false, so that the family can tear up the Grange and sell the land. The family has always thought that both Mortimer and Tristan were beyond weird. And crazy.

Proving it would be quite lucrative. And for Tristan’s own good.

Enter the extremely skeptical Wolf Kincaid and his slightly less skeptical sidekicks Matt and Gidget. Tristan’s family hires Dr. Wolfgang Kincaid, paranormal psychologist and head honcho for Hellsinger Investigations,. to prove that Tristan is, pardon me, bat-shit crazy.

After all, that’s kind of what Hellsinger’s does. They debunk haunted houses and a lot of other supernatural crap.

Howsomever, there are a few things that Tristan’s ever-loving family simply didn’t count on when they hired Hellsinger Investigations to prove that Hoxne Grange was not visited by ghosts.

1. The damn place really, truly is visited by ghosts. Every single day.
2. Wolf and his crew may be skeptical, but they are honest. Once convinced, they won’t lie.
3. The Grange’s original ghosts were benign. The ones that the Hellsinger crew stirred up, malignant as hell.

But in the process of sending one very evil ghost back to the hell she came from, we get one spooky love story that just couldn’t have happened any other way.

Wolf starts lusting after Tristan the first minute he steps into Hoxne Grange, but coming onto the man you’re supposed to prove is crazy is well past unprofessional conduct, even before he finds out whether Tristan is gay or straight. (If Tristan is as beautiful as Wolf describes, the cover model didn’t do him justice)

Tristan has spent his life feeling like he’s abnormal, not so much because he’s gay as because he sees dead people. His family has been too busy worrying about that to think much about his sexuality, one way or another. And Tris has always felt too odd among normals (those who don’t see ghosts) to open himself up in any way. He is one very scared virgin.

Once Wolf starts admitting that the ghosts might be real, Tris has the possibility of a real relationship with someone who might accept him as he is. Tris is all in from the beginning of their relationship. Then the malevolent ghost shows up, and Tris discovers that Wolf has a few secrets of his own.

When Wolf has to call in the cavalry, and his family shows up, he and Tris are on a more equal footing. We get to see both of their vulnerabilities, and it makes the love story really shine.

It also amps up the paranormal elements, as the ghost makes a serious bid for pulling down the entire mansion. She is one evil lady!

Fish and Ghosts is a fun paranormal male/male romance, but it has a lot of terrific urban fantasy worldbuilding mixed in. In the romance department, Wolf and Tristan start the story pretty much as enemies. After all, Wolf is there to prove that Tris is bonkers. They begin by striking sparks, and end up proving that all that explosive chemistry meant that they had combustible chemistry of another kind. However, their attraction is believable, not just because they are hot, but because they fit each other’s broken places.

The worldbuilding sets up the Hellsinger series. Wolf and his team are ghost hunters. Who, or what else is he going to find in the future? Wolf has found love, but the supernatural is definitely still out there. I’m looking forward to seeing what they discover next.

I picked Fish and Ghosts because I adored Black Dog Blues, and I was hoping for something similar. Fish and Ghosts had more romance, but still the snark that I loved. All the characters, both the main and the side characters, have important parts to play and are individuals you either want to meet or love to hate. And one has a special surprise at the end.

I give Fish and Ghosts  an A-

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