Friday, October 01, 2010

Of Midnight Born by Lisa Cach

Alex Wodling is a minor lord who is extremely interested in Astronomy. In interest of being left alone to look at the stars, he buys the famous, haunted Maiden Castle. Rumor has it that no man can spend the night there before being driven out by the ghost that haunts the place, but Alex doesn't believe in ghosts and decides to not only move in, but to make the entire serving staff male and create a bachelor household.

The trouble is that the castle really is haunted, by the ghost of Serena Clerenbold, the last owner of the keep. Her family had become poor, and so she and her brother attempted to kidnap their rich neighbor with the intent of wedding Serena to him to keep her people, and her patrimony, alive. When she was murdered on her wedding night, her spirit was trapped in the castle, in a cherry tree in her garden.

For a long time, she has hated all men, and been left alone in the castle. But when Alex brings people back into the castle, it irritates her and she expends energy to try and drive them out. Believing all men are beasts, she wants nothing less than Alex and his Bachelor crew to be gone- but the more energy she expends to do tricks and pranks to drive them out, the faster the cherry tree she depends on as a source of life, dies.

And then she finds that Alex is most certainly not a beast, and in fact, is rather delicious. As they slowly come to an agreement over his use of the castle, Serena finds herself falling in love for the very first time in her extended life, and wishes she could become alive again to enjoy Alex's kisses and caresses. But unbeknownst to Serena, she isn't the only ghost inhabiting Maiden Castle- there is also the Shadow, who seems to want to protect Serena from ever falling in love or coming to love another. Who could the shadow be? The Ghost of her brother? Or her erstwhile husband, who may have killed her on her wedding night, or who she might have killed, according to local legend?

But even if they find out who the Shadow is, and why it seeks to harm both Serena and Alex, they must deal with the fact that her tree is slowly dying. And while Serena is using her energy to appear whole and human for Alex, the situation is untenable for both of them. What will happen when Serena's tree finally dies? Can Serena live with losing the man she loves for an eternity or will Alex find some way, any way to save her?

This book was a solid romance, but nothing special. I did like the fact that it was the heroine who was the ghost, but her pranking simply because she could didn't make me like her very much. In fact, I actually found her annoying and a pain in the butt. She is terrorizing people just because she doesn't like men, which lost her my sympathy early on.

Admittedly, she does learn better later, but that early loss of sympathy wasn't easy for her to regain. Alex himself comes off as a bit of a jerk himself, refusing to believe in a ghost (despite having "met" her years earlier without realizing it) until she literally rubs his nose in the fact that she is there, and watching him, including when he is taking a bath. Both eventually soften their attitudes towards each other, but I never was very invested in either character or in their romance.

In the end, of course, they wind up in a "Happily Ever After", but I still wasn't wholly sympathetic to their romance due to Serena's earlier bitchy behavior and Alex's jerkiness. It was nice that they found happiness with each other, but there was a whole lot of "not caring" on my part for either of them, so this wound up being a big, fat zero for me. It's okay, but it didn't rock my socks, or my world. It was barely on this side of "meh". YMMV, of course. Not recommended.

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