I have discovered a type of trashy romance novel that I can seriously get behind: One with ghosts. Or other sci-fi/fantasy/Buffy-type subject matter.
Jennifer Crusie’s Maybe This Time is about 30-something-year-old Andie, short for Andromeda, who is newly engaged and wants to cut off all ties to ex-husband North. But when Andie goes to meet with North one last time to settle things once and for all, old feelings come back and she somehow finds herself agreeing to help him take care of two orphaned children living in a haunted mansion which his family sort of owns. (Yeah, pretty odd premise). Almost instantly the reader knows Andie and North will end up back together, but almost instantly the reader doesn’t care because he/she is more interested in why this mansion (in southern Ohio?) is haunted…And by WHOM!
So Andie gets to the house, fully not believing there are any ghosts anywhere ever, and must deal with two very strange children, crazy screamin’ Alice and too-quiet Carter, as well as moody old housekeeper Mrs. Crumb, who claims she knows everything there is to know about the house and its ghosts. Soon enough Andie becomes a believer because she sees/talks to three “people” who aren’t really people at all: May, the kids’ 19-year-old aunt who recently and mysteriously died via falling over a railing in the house; Miss J, the house’s original governess — like, from the 1700s — who is super creepy and scary but also kind of protects Alice; and Peter, Miss J’s male counterpart, who thinks he owns the house and everyone should just get the H out.
North’s brother, Sullivan a.k.a. Southie, and his new broadcast journalist girlfriend Kelly have taken a sudden interest in the house’s history and the treatment of the orphaned children. A large and highly entertaining chunk of the story involves Southie and Kelly coming to the house with a cameraman and two ghost experts, Dennis the professor and Isolde the medium. Andie’s super-spiritual mom Flo, her new fiancé Will, ex-husband North and his high-society mom Lydia arrive soon after, and what ensues are several days and nights of pure full-house chaos: attempted séances, sexual scandals, heated arguments and a whole lot of paranormal activity.
Crusie definitely succeeded in writing an enjoyable bevy of characters, including children who provide comic relief and even some solutions as to what to do about the ghosts, even if the story itself is so unbelievably corny and unrealistic. I recommend this book to those who enjoy a little splash of sci-fi/fantasy, and I highly recommend reading it in the summer and on the beach.
Next up: Back to the Young Adults section with Sarah Dessen’s What Happened To Goodbye.