>> Sunday, February 17, 2013
Practical Melanie Middleton hates to admit she can see ghosts. But she's going to have to accept it. An old man she recently met has died, leaving her his historic Tradd Street home, complete with housekeeper, dog -and a family of ghosts anxious to tell her their secrets.
Enter Jack Trenholm, a gorgeous writer obsessed with unsolved mysteries. He has reason to believe that diamonds from the Confederate Treasury are hidden in the house. So he turns the charm on with Melanie, only to discover he's the smitten one...
It turns out Jack's search has caught the attention of a malevolent ghost. Now, Jack and Melanie must unravel a mystery of passion, heartbreak -and even murder.
Estate agent Melanie Middleton might sell old houses, but she prefers new ones. And then she inherits the mother of all old houses, a beautiful but run-down mansion which is one of the best-known in Charleston. She has no idea why the former owner, an old man she only met once, left the house to her, but he's made it really difficult for her to say no. Before she can sell the house or anything in it, Melanie must spend a year living in it. If she does so, she'll receive a salary and will have access to whatever funds she needs to put the house back to rights. A hard offer to turn down, indeed.
That sounded all very good to me, not to mention the fact that Melanie can see ghosts, and the house has a full complement of them, as well as Secrets From The Past. Unfortunately, it soon became clear the book wasn't going to work for me.
Initially, I was just uncomfortable with how Melanie's dislike for old houses was obviously White building up a straw-man to knock down later, when she made Melanie see the errors of her ways. Because of this, Melanie's practicality, her preference for new houses, rather than old money-pits, no matter how gorgeous the latter are, feels forced. It's a perfectly respectable, reasonable opinion, especially for someone living on their own (I'm thinking of the leak I had last year. Having to sort every single detail out myself was a huge pain, requiring countless phone calls and time off from work. I kept wishing I lived in a newly-built flat, rather than my charming old Victorian!). But it's not that Melanie just prefers new houses, she dislikes old ones, in a blind, irrational way. She's wrong, and must be made to see the error of her ways!
And that's the sort of story that was being set up when I decided to just press the delete button. Silly woman, she needs to be bullied (by pretty much every character in the story, from her father and friend to random men and her receptionist) into living her life in the way everyone else thinks she should live it. Of course she can't just make decisions about her own preferences! It put my back up, and made me want her to tell them all to go to hell.
And "putting my back up" is a mild way of describing the intense annoyance engendered by the presumptuous, arrogant bastard who's supposed to be the love interest. He's horrendous and a total asshole from the very moment he's introduced, when Melanie returns his phone call only to be told off for calling in the morning (when the guy had left heaven knows how many times the day before, indicating a certain level of urgency). Then, when she tells him there's no need to take the phone into the shower with him, as she can call back later, he retorts that if he does that, then she won't have the pleasure of imagining him naked. After which he suggests they go out for dinner that night, and Melanie, the utter idiot agrees (why? Because she'd just seen a photograph of him and thought she was good looking. Idiot. She deserved him).
And of course, once they meet, he's yet another character who refuses to respect any of her wishes and bullies her into stuff, from insisting on calling her "Mellie" even though she tells him she prefers Melanie, to taking her to a dive because he likes the food, even though she's dressed for something a little bit more upscale, to high-handedly changing her dinner order because he thinks she should have the shrimp. Oh, spare me! I was out of there.
MY GRADE: A DNF.