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Happy Medium by Sarah Adler


Happy Medium

by Sarah Adler

Gretchen Acorn is a fake spirit medium. Raised by a conman and from a long line of con artists, Gretchen is in the family business because conning people is the only way that she knows how to make a living. Something happened in her past, though (you find out towards the end of the book what it is) and her nascent conscience kicked into life. So acting as her own moral bulwark, she has The Rule: Always leave people better than when you found them.

Gretchen uses this rule as her guide in setting up her spirit medium business. At the start of the book, the business in DC is thriving and one of her best clients (who has made so much progress in her grief that Gretchen plans to slowly wean her client off sessions with her) pays her a princely sum to help a friend of hers with a ghost problem.

The friend in question is Charlie Waybill, a goat farmer struggling to sell his farm about an hour outside of DC. Gretchen expects Charlie to be as old as her client. But he isn’t. He’s her age and he’s hot. Right, so that’s complication the first.

Complication the second has a delicious twist of irony: the ghost is real and Gretchen can see him and communicate with him. The ghost wastes no time in telling her that there is a curse on the Waybill family: they will die if they try to sell the farm and be doomed to haunt the farm forever. So Gretchen’s task is clear: convince Charlie to keep the farm. What follows is rather a lot of emotional growth for Gretchen as she navigates interactions with Charlie, the ghost, and the goat farm using an entirely novel and scary approach: being honest.

The ghost, Everett Waybill (a long dead ancestor of Charlie’s) plays a bigger role than a secondary character usually does in a romance. He has a kind of smarmy charm, but he’s mostly a likable character so I didn’t mind too much having him take such a central role.

What this book does very well is show the gentle softening of Gretchen’s heart and the strengthening of her conscience. This is a gradual process with Gretchen wanting to be genuinely known but terrified of the consequences. While sometimes the plot didn’t quite make sense to me (for example, I could think of a million ways for Gretchen to prove to Charlie that Everett is real, but she used hardly any of them) by the end of the book, things had fallen into place so beautifully that I could look back fondly on the ride to get there. The chemistry between Gretchen and Charlie is there almost from the beginning. Their first meeting is rather rocky, and while their conversations sizzle with their attraction, it is paired with this bone deep growing towards each other, too.

I really enjoyed my time with this book and recommend it for anyone who enjoys a contemporary with a touch of the paranormal and a big dose of growth.

– Lara

“A sincere and sincerely funny romance.”—Alix E. Harrow, New York Times bestselling author of Starling House

A clever con woman must convince a skeptical, sexy farmer of his property’s resident real-life ghost if she’s to save them all from a fate worse than death, in this delightful new novel from the author of Mrs. Nash’s Ashes.

Fake spirit medium Gretchen Acorn is happy to help when her best (read: wealthiest) client hires her to investigate the unexplained phenomena preventing the sale of her bridge partner’s struggling goat farm. Gretchen may be a fraud, but she’d like to think she’s a beneficentone. So if “cleansing” the property will help a nice old man finally retire and put some much-needed cash in her pockets at the same time, who’s she to say no?

Of course, it turns out said bridge partner isn’t the kindly AARP member Gretchen imagined—Charlie Waybill is young, hot as hell, and extremely unconvinced that Gretchen can communicate with the dead. (Which, fair.) Except, to her surprise, Gretchen finds herself face-to-face with Everett: the very real, very chatty ghost that’s been wreaking havoc during every open house. And he wants her to help ensure Charlie avoids the same family curse that’s had Everett haunting Gilded Creek since the 1920s.

Now, Gretchen has one month to convince Charlie he can’t sell the property. Unfortunately, hard work and honesty seem to be the way to win over the stubborn farmer—not exactly Gretchen’s strengths. But trust isn’t the only thing growing between them, and the risk of losing Charlie to the spirit realm looms over Gretchen almost as annoyingly as Everett himself. To save the goat farm, its friendly phantom, and the man she’s beginning to love, Gretchen will need to pull off the greatest con of her life: being fully, genuinely herself.

Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy
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