Title: The Winter Spirit
Author: Indra Vaughn
Pages/Word Count: 125 Pages
At a Glance: Indra Vaughn played me like twelve drummers drumming and eleven pipers piping, and I adored it down to the story’s final words.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Nathaniel O’Donnelly likes his life quiet, his guests happy, and his ghosts well-behaved.
Although a boyfriend wouldn’t go amiss. Someone to share his beautiful B&B with, even if it is in the middle of nowhere and he’s long past the wrong side of thirty. Problem is, Nathaniel’s living with a ghost who thinks he’s cupid, and whose arrows fly a little too straight.
Gabriel Wickfield had the unfortunate luck of dying before his time, and now he’s stuck trying to make romance happen to earn his right to move along. Not that he’s bored in the meantime–Nathaniel is just too easy to tease. And also a little bit scrumptious…
With the curse reaching its expiration date, Gabriel needs to make this final match this Christmas. Without it, nothing but darkness awaits.
Love can conquer all, but can it beat death?
Review: Indra Vaughn’s The Winter Spirit included a couple of firsts for me.
1.) This is the first book I’ve read by this author.
2.) This is the first holiday story I’ve read so far in 2015.
Speaking on both points one and two: yay, I win!
This short novel tells the story of a man, Nate O’Donnelly, who isn’t the six-pack-abbed-mega-stud-muffin we generally tend to see as the leading man in M/M romance. Nate is way better, in my most humble opinion, because he’s the guy you want to snuggle up next to under a blanket in front of a roaring fire. He’s the guy you know you can count on, can trust, and he’s thoroughly huggable, that Nate is. If you couldn’t already tell, I loved him.
Nate is the owner of a B&B in Michigan. In case you’re not familiar with Michigan, it snows there in the winter. A lot. Which makes for the perfect setting for this story. The snowy rural landscape is portrayed in the idyllic sort of way it can only be during the holiday season—pristine, sparkling, magical in a way that the other seasons just aren’t—and Vaughn uses this setting to its best effect as we wend our way through the storyline. Nate has been single for quite a few years, but even being single, he’s never been entirely by himself at the Lake House, not even in winter when guest bookings are at their lowest—and this doesn’t include the company of his best friend Elisa, either. No, the Lake House B&B is haunted, so Nate isn’t really alone at all…he’s just a little lonely.
Gabriel Wickfield has been dead a long time. He’s been haunting the B&B, on the land that was once owned by his family, since well before the day Nate inherited it from his uncle and restored it to its current beauty. I love the way the author portrayed Gabriel and Nate’s friendship, because, yes, it truly is that in many ways, but the real beauty of their relationship is watching it grow and evolve as Nate begins to see Gabriel, not even so much with his eyes but with his heart. When Nate decides to learn a bit more about his resident ghost, we learn as much about who Gabriel was and the tragic circumstances of his life at its end as we do about Nate, which is when we’re given the opportunity to embrace the wonder of this story. Gabriel isn’t an intangible, he was and is a man who still feels and thinks, so we’re able to see him as more than just a ghost.
With a guy from Nate’s past showing back up in town to stay on as a guest for the holidays, it begins to look like maybe Nate will be able to use a Christmas wish or two to his benefit, and that Gabriel could very well get up to a little holiday matchmaking, something he must do in order to rescue himself from this limbo he’s been residing in for so long. And this is the part of the storyline that reached right out and grabbed me by the heartstrings. Indra Vaughn played me like twelve drummers drumming and eleven pipers piping, and I adored it down to the story’s final words. Oh, the feels. I felt them.
There’s more than a little holiday magic afoot in The Winter Spirit, and I thought it was rather sublime, like the sweet mini-marshmallows to my warm cuppa cocoa.
You can buy The Winter Spirit here: