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The Book of Eleanor is mostly told from the perspective of each protagonist: Angie June, a struggling special education teacher and part-time restaurant worker, and Grey Graham, recently relocated to South Padre Island to start a new life for herself after the death of her partner, Mary. Grey plans to open a coffee house and reading room filled with Mary’s beloved, eclectic books, but things don’t go according to plan and Grey realizes that someone from the other realm is wreaking havoc in her new establishment and attached living quarters. For Angie, it’s love at first sight when she sees Grey at her mother’s restaurant where she works when she’s not teaching. Unfortunately, the first encounter the two women have doesn’t bode well when Angie accidentally dumps food all over Grey. However, Angie knows something Grey doesn’t—that they will eventually be together in a loving relationship. She knows this, in spite of their rocky start, because Angie has “the gift.” Just touching someone gives her insights into what the person has experienced or what she or he might be feeling. Using her gift, she’s also assisted local police with cases when someone has disappeared and been killed. In these cases, it’s the deceased that has usually communicated with her, making her the ideal candidate to help Grey get to the bottom of what’s going on at The Bookmark.
The character of Angie seems to be a bit ditzy at the start of the story, but it adds to her charm and she is revealed to be a very caring, capable teacher of the island’s special needs children as the story unfolds. The potential loss of the facility used for the school for these children makes for a desperate Angie, so when Grey asks for her help with her paranormal problem and offers to pay for her services, Angie sees this as a way to save the school. The problem is, she doesn’t explain, and her rate makes Grey wonder if she’s being price-gouged. Still, there is this attraction that seems inevitable between the two women and when the nighttime chaos is kicked up a notch, Grey knows that she needs Angie’s help no matter what.
Grey’s character is mature and seems to be on the right track to get on with her life after a horrible loss, but she’s thrown off that track when the paranormal activity begins. Desperate to find answers before she opens The Bookmark to the public, she forms a somewhat tentative alliance with Angie, hoping Angie’s psychic abilities will help her understand what’s happening; but Angie may have more to help her new friend than just with aiding with the numinous activities going on at the store.
The title of the story, The Book of Eleanor, is a curious one until a little way into the story, but when revealed, it makes perfect sense. Billed as a romance, this title might be more aptly classified Paranormal/Romance, but romance it is, and an engaging one at that.
The story itself is an interesting premise with a turn of events from the ghostly realm that may catch the reader off-guard. The love story itself is sweet and funny. It’s populated with a group of interesting friends and relatives, Angie’s support system, all of whom help give Grey insight into Angie’s life and personality. These encounters entertain us throughout the tale.
If you’re not inclined to believe in spirits, allow reality to be suspended for a brief time. The portrayal of a couple of experiences with the ghost may be somewhat unsettling, but they read true to the story line and are not drawn out—rather, they are just enough to move the plot along.
The Book of Eleanor is a love story that’s wonderfully engaging and filled with colorful characters. Even though Halloween is but a memory for this year, a good ghost story is timeless, and this new Nat Burns offering will chill, thrill, and help you fulfill your entertainment essentials.
The Book of Eleanor
By Nat Burns
Paperback, 9781594933097, 214 pp.