Nearly Departed by Suzanne Rossi

Story: 9.5
Presentation: 9.5
Total: 19
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
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Blurb: Cybil Austin loves Shady Oaks, and hopes to write her Regency romances undisturbed by a dysfunctional family. She doesn’t count on renovation chaos or the presence of ghosts who fear the changes will wreak havoc with their non-lives. She also doesn’t count on falling for her contractor, C. Maxwell Maitland.

Handsome and charismatic, Max isn’t seeking a relationship, but Cybil gets to him on more than a professional level. He is drawn to her eccentric personality, but a bad marriage has him gun-shy of anything suggesting permanence. And then, there are those pesky ghosts. They want Cybil gone and the renovations stopped.

But not even a haunted house deters Cybil from pursuing Max. During the process, she learns about herself, life, and death.

Will Cybil and Max enjoy a future at Shady Oaks? Can they and the ghosts co-exist in the same house?

Review: WOW How funny!! I I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Romance was good, but the humor was great!

A quote from the last page of the story sums up the plot. Cybil, an author, wants to "escape a domineering mother, (and) buys and renovates a dilapidated old house, which just happens to be haunted by a covey of friendly ghosts, all the while falling in love with her contractor." But this story is so much more. The setting is in small town Mississippi,

Cybil's mother won't take her writing career seriously and she considers herself a wimp and a doormat to the nasty old woman. She falls in love with the old LaForge antebellum house which has been empty for several years. It is inhabited by several generations of the LaForge family ghosts and their extended family of ghosts. She also falls in love (lust at first sight of his denim clad rear) with her contractor, Max Maitland.

Some of the other living characters are her out of the closet brother, Daryl, and his 'friend' Steve,  Cybil's sisters and Aunt Rose, the three (not at the same time) cooks, and her friend Julie the realtor. Among the ghosts is Ruth LaForge from the Civil War era who is constantly knitting, but forgets which stitch she is on. She kept me "in stitches" Antoine is a rather vague character at first, but later realizes he is gay and moves in with Daryl and Steve Can't you just see it? Two gay guys and their gay ghost house guest. The Colonel flits back and forth to Civil War battles where he continues to fight the "war". Zoe, Hester, and dozens of others, including an Indian who can't speak any English. Even the adopted dog, Dudley, adds to the hilarity of this tale.

Conversations between characters are hilarious. i.e.Zoe, "I never thought haunting could be so exhausting. I could just sleep forever." Hester, "Zoe, you do. You're dead. Remember? We all are."

The ghosts play all sorts of practical, and some not so practical, jokes and pranks on Cybil, her family (wait 'til you read what they did to Cybil's mother!!), and the other characters. They don't want to hurt anybody, just make them leave.

Some of the descriptions made me almost wet my britches laughing. The ghosts scare one of the cooks and she takes off running - "her bobbling booty ... rounded the curve and disappeared.... She was on the wrong side of 150 pounds."

I could go on and on with examples of humor, but I'll let you discover and laugh for yourself,

I guess I am forgetting to tell you about the romance between Cybil and Max. It follows the pattern of most good love stories. There are misunderstandings, problems and other people who cause conflicts. It is a good plot. For me the ghostly humor made it great.

I enjoyed some of the names, Miss Cadwallader, Eunice Ickleberry, LaVinia, are a few.

The only thing that I had a problem with was the ghosts and their physical actions. Can a ghost throw a ball for the dog? Can they move items? But that is an author's decision. I guess if there can be ghosts, then I guess the ghosts can do whatever the writer wants them to do. Right?

Enjoy this one, Readers, I know I did and will when I read it again.

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