The eagerly awaited prequel to Meg Leigh's Hunter's Kiss and Hunter's Bond is now available from Torquere Press
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Jack Stephens is a skeptic who lectures in Parapsychology at a community college. In his spare time, he works hard to prove that things going bump in the night can be rationally explained. When Jack meets psychic, Casey Lambeth, he sees just another chance to debunk paranormal phenomena. But there is something about Casey that defies explanation. From their first meeting, Casey decides Jack is an arrogant know it all.
When the two are thrown together to investigate a haunting at the home of Edith Andrews, the sparks really begin to fly. As they work their way through the case, both Jack and Casey will be forced to face some issues from their respective pasts, and work their way towards a mutual understanding, respect, and could it be possible–something more?
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The heavy bass line thrummed through the leather upholstered bucket seat and vibrated in Jack Stevens' chest as he rolled the Shelby Mustang out of the garage and onto the street. The deep throaty purr of the engine made a dark counterpoint to the opening bars of Genesis' "I Can't Dance."
Jack grinned and waved to an obviously disapproving neighbor as he cruised to the end of the street and took a left, headed for the interstate. It was a warm summer day, the early morning sunshine hinting at a hotter day to come.
"I can't dance..." Jack sang as he drove, glancing into the rearview mirror as he pulled to a stop at an intersection. He was headed for Elk Ridge, Wisconsin on an investigation. A little old lady was having problems with what she thought was a ghost haunting her home.
He was looking forward to the chance to let the Shelby out on the highway. Okay, the GT350 might not have been the fastest Mustang ever built, but she suited him. He'd spent a lot of time and money restoring her to her former glory, after finding her rusting and falling apart in a junkyard where he'd spent a week trying to prove to the owner that the things going bump in the yard had more to do with junkyard rats than spirits. In the end, he'd advised the guy to buy a couple of terriers to keep the resident Rottweiler company, then waived his usual fee and asked if he could take the old Mustang instead.
Jack drummed on the steering wheel in time to the music as he took off from the intersection. Over a couple of years, he'd lovingly worked on the car during weekends, buying parts as finances permitted. Jack had restored the rusting hulk to sleek, gleaming black with racing stripes over the hood and the classic GT350 decal along the sides of the car below the doors. He'd even managed to locate and buy an original blue dot spare wheel, which was proudly mounted in the trunk. The car was his pride and joy, even if it cost a small fortune in gas to run.
"I like a girl with expensive tastes, anyway," Jack said. He patted the wheel lovingly as he took the turnpike onto the interstate, letting the Mustang out with a roar of the engine and smoking tires. God, but he loved that car!
Despite being raised by a mother who believes in tarot card readings, crystals, sprits and things that go bump in the night, Jack Stephens is a skeptic. In fact, he lectures in Parapsychology at a local community college, and spends his spare time de-bunking claims of paranormal activity by using scientific techniques. It’s during one such case that Jack meets local psychic, Casey Lambeth. Jack thinks Casey is a con man out to fleece an elderly woman, and Casey thinks Jack is an arrogant, close-minded, opinionated jerk.
Reviewed by BD Whitney
Professor Jack Stevens has dedicated his professional career to studying the paranormal from a scientific viewpoint. He wouldn’t go so far as to say he exists to debunk ghosts and things that go bump in the night, but he is convinced that there is a rational explanation for everything. Raised in benign negligence by a mother who claims to have psychic powers, he considers soothsayers, fortune tellers and other such psychics to be charlatans whose main goal is monetary gain. When Jack is called to the house of an elderly woman to investigate a supposed haunting, he is less than thrilled to find that he is to work with one of these phonies: Casey Lambert, a self-professed psychic.
Casey has been called to the house by his spirit guide, who is also his long-dead mother. He is not after personal gain of any kind, and he resents Jack’s implications of such. He and Jack quickly discover that the source of the home’s trouble is an angry spirit – a poltergeist who not only detests Jack but also appears to want to keep Casey for her own. As Jack and Casey work together to find a way to help the ghost cross over into the afterlife, they find that they are perhaps not as incompatible as they first believed. They also realize that before they can deal with any feelings they might have for each other, they must first come to terms with their pasts.
Meg Leigh’s Hunter’s Dawn: Laying the Ghosts is a story for those who enjoy ghost hunters and paranormal phenomena. In this story, not only do we get to experience the chills of a ghost story, but we get to sit back and watch sparks fly as a skeptic and a believer face off and find perhaps more in common that they initially expected. This is a story about opening one’s mind to possibilities and coming to terms with the past so you can look toward the future.
I enjoyed this story and found that it captured my attention from the beginning. Not only does it include an interesting paranormal element, but Ms. Leigh also give us characters who conflict enough with each other to be interesting. Jack thinks Casey is a con artist. Casey thinks Jack is an obnoxious bully. Both have a very strong system of beliefs, and both have personal issues that make them flawed and therefore more agreeable to the reader than they might have been otherwise. Jack is abrasive and perhaps just a little too stubborn. He is not only skeptical, he truly doesn’t want to believe and refuses to see what is right in front of his eyes. During the course of the story, he is described with the proverb “there are none so blind as those who will not see,” and this is very true for him. Jack is forced to gradually open his eyes, however, which in turn means that he has to deal with a few buried issues from his past.
I wish we had seen a little bit more of the ghost Sarah in Hunter’s Dawn: Laying the Ghosts . She had great potential to be frightening, and I enjoyed the way that Ms. Leigh manifested her in the story. Having her spirit centered around an antique hair mourning brooch is a delightfully creepy touch. This desire for more of the scary element is probably a manifestation of my own personal affinity for horror, though. This story is not horror – I do want to make that clear – it is essentially a romance between the two main characters
A little hocus pocus, a little romance, and a little bit of “fear factor” combine to make this a unique story. It’s a quick and enjoyable read, and I’m interested to see what Ms. Leigh brings us next.
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