This story had a lot more heaviness than I was expecting. When Graham shows up at the estate to work, he finds a grieving widower who blames himself for his wife’s death and grieving children, one of whom won’t even speak anymore. And as I learned more about the whole situation, it became even more sad. *SPOILER* Richard blames himself because he’s gay and couldn’t love his wife the way she wanted, and she killed herself on the same day she found him kissing another man. And it was her son who found her body and was then told by his father to not tell anyone, because news of suicide would ruin the family’s reputation. And then Richard wasn’t there for his children which made them distrust him and think he killed her. *END SPOILER* I think I felt worse for Lavinia, the dead wife, than I did for Richard. They all deserved better, but she especially did, and yet, even in death, she still just wanted her family to be happy.
But the heaviness was ultimately balanced by the sweet and touching elements of the story. This was about romance, but it was also about a broken family being repaired, as much as they could be with a piece missing.
Also ghosts! Or something supernatural.
The whole book was very atmospheric with the ghosty, Gothic, grieving family, mysterious death, big empty estate vibes.
I found the main character, Graham, pretty unlikeable at first. To be honest, I can’t remember why? But he grew on me over the course of the book. By the end, he really did care about and want to help this family.
I enjoyed the romance. Graham thought about sex a lot, but I still felt like there was more to the relationship than that and like I could understand their feelings for each other. And the sex scenes that were in the book were hot and felt like believable situations.
The audiobook narration by Ruri Carter was good. It sounded natural. Voices were slightly different. English accent. I felt like it maybe could’ve had more oomph during more emotional scenes? Still enjoyable though.
Overall, I enjoyed this atmospheric book with its heavy emotions but ultimately touching ending.
Trigger/Content Warnings: *MILD SPOILER* Mentions of suicide. One very brief mention of sexual assault. Some ableism in how the main character initially viewed a disabled/neurodivergent character. *END SPOILER*
Anyone who likes m/m romance, ghost hauntings, and stories that are both heavy and touching.