Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #WW2 #Histfic The Lost Letters by @SarahM_writer @Bookouture

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading The Lost Letters by Sarah Mitchell

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Martha, overcomes her terror of flying in order to discover more about her father’s past. Having written about his life in Canada, he was about to return to his roots in East Anglia when he suddenly died. Martha also wants to see her estranged daughter, Janey, who is studying at Cambridge, but first she must solve the mystery of the beach hut he father had rented and the file of letters on his computer to someone called Catkins.

The novel takes us back to World War Two and a friendship between two young women, Sylvie and Connie.  Each is hiding a secret and their unexpected friendship gives them courage to take a bold decision.  We are shown a vivid picture of life in wartime Britain, where women had important roles doing their best for their country in the Women’s Voluntary Service, against a background of bombing and fear.  Relationships between men sent off to fight and their worried wives at home are severely strained and they can easily grow apart.

Martha is an engaging character, whose story, written in the present tense, involves us actively in her compelling adventure, while Sylvie, distanced by the past tense, makes us fear for her future happiness.  Threads are gradually gathered, connecting the women together and enabling Martha to forge a more positive future where she is reunited with her daughter and finally understands her father’s past.

Book description

What if keeping your loved ones safe meant never seeing them again? 

Norfolk, 1940: Sylvia’s husband Howard has gone off to war, and she is struggling to raise her two children alone. Her only solace is her beach hut in Wells-Next-The-Sea, and her friendship with Connie, a woman she meets on the beach. The two women form a bond that will last a lifetime, and Sylvia tells Connie something that no-one else knows: about a secret lover… and a child.

Canada, present day: When Martha’s beloved father dies, he leaves her two things: a mysterious stash of letters to an English woman called ‘Catkins’ and directions to a beach hut in the English seaside town of Wells. Martha is at a painful crossroads in her own life, and seizes this chance for a trip to England – to discover more about her family’s past, and the identity of her father’s secret correspondent.

The tragedy of war brought heartbreaking choices for Sylvia. And a promise made between her and Connie has echoed down the years. For Martha, if she uncovers the truth, it could change everything…

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of #Histfic The Dressmaker’s Secret by @CharlotteBetts1 #SundayBlogShare

The Dressmaker's SecretThe Dressmaker’s Secret by Charlotte Betts

4 star

The Dressmaker’s Secret is historical fiction. It opens in 1819 Italy, with Sarah and Emilia Barton who are dressmakers. We first meet them when as they move location, in what has been a lifetime of travelling. Emilia cannot understand her mother’s nervousness and insistence that they leave every home secretly and run to yet another destination.

On the way to Pesaro they are involved in a coaching accident, which results in them becoming friends with Princess Caroline Of Brunswick. Luckily, the Princess is able to offer Emilia a home when an unexpected event leaves her alone. Later Emilia travels to London on behalf of Caroline, and it gives her an opportunity to investigate recently revealed details of her own past.

The sprinkling of details involving Princess Caroline added good historical interest to this storyline. There’s romance and intrigue as well as glimpses of life among London’s aristocracy. I particularly enjoyed the moments of countryside residence that were set in my home county of Hampshire. In general, it was a solid piece of historical fiction and I would happily read more books from this author.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Italy, 1819. Emilia Barton and her mother Sarah live a nomadic existence, travelling from town to town as itinerant dressmakers to escape their past. When they settle in the idyllic coastal town of Pesaro, Emilia desperately hopes that, this time, they have found a permanent home. But when Sarah is brutally attacked by an unknown assailant, a deathbed confession turns Emilia’s world upside down.

Seeking refuge as a dressmaker in the eccentric household of Princess Caroline of Brunswick, Emilia experiences her first taste of love with the charming Alessandro. But her troubling history gnaws away at her. Might she, a humble dressmaker’s daughter, have a more aristocratic past than she could have imagined? When the Princess sends her on an assignment to London, she grasps the opportunity to unravel the truth.

Caught up in a web of treachery and deceit, Emilia is determined to discover who she really is – even if she risks losing everything . .

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview Family #Histfic Saga set in #Alabama It All Comes Back To You by Beth Duke

It All Comes Back to YouIt All Comes Back to You by Beth Duke

3.5 stars

It All Comes Back To You is a family saga set in Alabama.

Ronni works in a nursing home; a popular carer, she has many friends among the staff and patients. When well-loved resident Violet dies, she leaves a large sum of money to Ronni, but to keep it, Ronni must agree to write and publish Violet’s life story.

Ronni uses diaries written by Violet as a basis for the memoir. It begins with Violet’s life from her early years in 1947, when she was just a teenager experiencing first-love. Inspired by Violet’s story, Ronni feels confident to reveal her own harsh upbringing to her new boyfriend, Rick.

The author has written this book in alternating chapters between Violet, a beautiful popular woman, and Ronni, someone good-looking, but insecure. The book is like an infinity mirror; a book about a book within a book. Ronni’s writing journey rises from the aspiration to write, to the heady heights of a published author, with a lucrative book deal and a planned book tour.

This is a dialogue-led book and to this end I found it rather hard to connect with the characters. This format can create a telling style to the story as opposed to a showing method. Overall, the book uses two well-used story threads; a will, with a clause before the beneficiary can fully collect their dues, and the journey of a debut author. Recommended for those who enjoy family based storylines or who have an interest in twentieth century Alabama.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Alabama, 1947.
Beautiful, seventeen-year-old Violet lives in a perfect world. Everybody loves her.
Well over sixty years later, she’s still beautiful and surrounded by admirers.

Veronica “Ronni” Johnson, licensed practical nurse and aspiring writer, meets Violet in the assisted living facility where Violet requires no assistance, just lots of male attention. When she dies, she leaves Ronni a very generous bequest–only if Ronni completes a book about her life within one year.

Struggling, insecure, flailing at the keyboard, Ronni juggles life, her patients, a new boyfriend, and a Samsonite factory of emotional baggage as she tries to put it all together.

But then the secrets start to emerge, some of them in person. And they don’t stop.

Alternating chapters between Homecoming Queen Violet in 1947 and can’t-quite-find-her-crown Ronni in the present, IT ALL COMES BACK TO YOU is Southern Fiction at its hilarious, warm, sad, outrageous,uplifting, and stunning best.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #thriller No One Can Hear You by @NikkiCAuthor #fridayreads

Today team review is from Karen, she blogs here https://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading No One Can Hear You by Nikki Crutchley

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My Opinion

This book’s prologue introduces you to Faith Marsden and what happened to her in February 2001; then – moving on to October 2017 in the first chapter – you get to know Zoe Haywood, a science teacher who has to return to Crawton where her mother has passed away.

With “No One Can Hear You”, Nikki Crutchley has created another gripping as well as chilling thriller with a plot that keeps its promises. It is a plot that kept me glued to my eReader, drawing me very close to Zoe. Nikki Crutchley created a well elaborated thriller with a complex and likeable heroine – as well as a colourful variety of further important characters. Zoe and the others are believable, complemented by the aptly written plot. There is a lot more to the story than simply good versus bad; there are some insights in the human behaviour that will make you wonder. It is a highly enjoyable read with authentic characters, interesting turns, and a great flow. A memorable book to read again, written by an author to watch out for! After completing this book I realised that Nikki Crutchley has made it into my top 15 list of thriller authors.

This is a book for you if you like intriguing suspense, feisty heroines, believable characters, and if you appreciate expertly elaborated stories.

Highly recommended!

Book description

‘He said that they’d let me go on purpose. That they could easily find me if they wanted to. He said that they didn’t want me. That I was too much trouble. He said if I went to the cops, he’d know. If I told Sonya, he’d know. If I talked to friends or teachers, he’d know. He told me to pretend it didn’t happen. He told me to consider it a compliment, that I was too strong. His last words to me were, ‘Just forget’.

Troubled teen Faith Marsden was one of several girls abducted from Crawton, a country town known for its picturesque lake and fertile farmland. Unlike the others, she escaped, though sixteen years on she still bears the emotional and physical scars.

Zoe Haywood returns to Crawton to bury her estranged mother Lillian, who has taken her own life. As she and Faith rekindle their high-school friendship, they discover notes left by Lillian that point to two more young women who recently disappeared from Crawton. But Lillian’s confused ramblings leave them with more questions than answers.

As Faith and Zoe delve deeper into the mystery, they become intent on saving the missing women, but in doing so are drawn into Auckland’s hidden world of drugs, abduction and murder. And then Faith decides to confront the mastermind – on her own.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview of Historical #Romance Searching For Gertrude by D.E. Haggerty

Searching for GertrudeSearching for Gertrude by D.E. Haggerty

3 stars

Searching For Gertrude is a romance set during World War Two.

Rudolf has loved the daughter of his Jewish neighbour for as long as he can remember, but one morning he wakes to discover her family are leaving, because of the dangers present in the country during that time. Gertrude’s father has lost his job at his German university, and he’s taking his family to Istanbul.

Devastated by the loss of his love, Rudolf vows to follow. But first he must finish his studies, and it is eight years before he can travel to Istanbul. When he arrives, his search for Gertrude is made harder as she hasn’t written to him for six years, and he doesn’t have her address.

Rosalyn, a young teacher from New York, is determined to help Jews escape from Europe. She begins by taking a job as a nanny to a Jewish family in Istanbul. Rudolf and Rosalyn meet by chance, in a park; Rudolf’s story touches Rosalyn deeply and she promises to help him find his girl.

The Istanbul setting for this war story gives it an interesting aspect; the author slips in historic details which were new to me. The chapters alternate between the two main characters, but at times there are some sprinkling of points of view from other characters, which made for confusing head-hopping. I would have enjoyed chapters being told solely from one point of view at a time. Mostly, the author uses an omnipotent narrator to tell the story, which kept me from empathising with the characters. I never felt the really deep emotions and motivation behind many of the actions.

Overall, I liked the historical setting, but there were missed opportunities to add tension, feelings and atmosphere.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

How far would you go to find the woman you love?

Nazi Germany. While growing up in Germany in the 1930s, Rudolf falls in love with the girl next door, Gertrude. He doesn’t care what religion Gertrude practices but the Nazis do. When the first antisemitic laws are enacted by the Nazi government, Gertrude’s father loses his job at the local university. Unable to find employment in Germany, he accepts a position at Istanbul University and moves the family to Turkey.

Eight Years Later. As war rages in Europe, Rudolf arrives in Istanbul to search for Gertrude. With Rudolf finally living in the same city as Gertrude, their reunion should be inevitable, but he can’t find her. During his search for Gertrude, he stumbles upon Rosalyn, an American Jew working as a nanny in the city. Upon hearing his heartbreaking story, she immediately agrees to help him search for his lost love. Willing to do anything in their search for Gertrude, they agree to work for a British intelligence officer who promises his assistance, but his demands endanger Rudolf and Rosalyn.

As the danger increases and the search for Gertrude stretches on, Rudolf and Rosalyn grow close, but Rudolf gave his heart away long ago.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #WW2 #Histfic The Lost Letters by @SarahM_writer @bookouture

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading The Lost Letters by Sarah Mitchell

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The novel tells two stories centred in two different times, one set in the 1940s, mostly in WWII Norfolk, although with some visits to London, and another taking place now, also set in Norfolk in its majority. The chapters set in the past are written in the past tense from the point of view of Sylvia, a married woman, mother of two children, still pining for her teenage love. When her aunt dies she leaves her a beach hut and through it she meets Connie, a girl from London, and her brother Charlie. Despite the distance and the difficulty in maintaining communication during the war, they become friends, and their lives intertwine in unexpected ways.

The chapters set in the present are written in the present tense (something I must confess took me some time to get used to, although it means it is very difficult to get confused as to where you are or who is talking), and told from the point of view of Martha, a Canadian teacher whose father was evacuated during the war from England to Canada. Following the death of her father and gaps in the information about his childhood (as he was working on an autobiography when he died), she decides to use the opportunity offered by her father’s plane ticket and the hotel and beach hut he had booked to do some research into his past.

Both women, whose stories most readers will guess must be connected in some way, have their own problems. Sylvia’s marriage is not exactly happy, the war takes her husband away, and apart from the everyday danger and destruction, she has to face the evacuation of her son. The author manages to create a good sense of the historical period and, in particular, of women’s lives during the war, without being heavy-handed in the use of descriptions or over-the-top in the nostalgic front. We experience the character’s turmoil, her doubts, and although we might not always agree with her decisions, it is easy to empathise and understand why she does what he does.

Martha is at a bit of a loss. She is divorced and although her ex-husband has moved on (he has remarried and has twins), it is not that clear if she has, as she still sends him birthday cards and seems jealous of her daughter’s relationship with her father’s new wife. She knows her relationship with her daughter Janey, who is studying at Cambridge, is strained but seems to have forgotten how to communicate with her. Her research into her father’s childhood and past gives her a focus, and the mystery behind Catkins (a file her sister finds in her father’s computer) and his/her identity help give her a purpose.

We have some male characters (and Martha’s father and his past are at the centre of the novel), but this is a novel about women: about mothers and daughters, about friends, about women pulling together to survive and to get stronger (I particularly enjoyed the chapters set during the war recalling the tasks women were doing in the home front, and how they supported each other becoming all members of an extended family), about the difficult decisions women were (and are) faced with for the good of their families and their children. The author is very good at conveying the thought processes of her characters and although it also has a great sense of place (and I am sure people familiar with Norfolk will enjoy the book enormously, and those of us who don’t know it as well will be tempted to put it on our list to visit in the future), in my opinion, its strongest point is its great psychological depth.

The book is well researched and it has a lightness of touch, avoiding the risk of slowing down the story with unnecessary detail or too much telling. As the different timelines are kept clearly separate I do not think readers will have any difficulty moving from one to the other.

The book flows well and the intrigue drives the reader through the pages, with red herrings and twists and turns included, although its pace is contemplative, as it pertains to the theme. It takes its time, and it allows its readers to get to know the characters and to make their own conjectures. I worked out what was likely to be the connection slightly before it was revealed, but it is very well done, and I don’t think readers will be disappointed by the ending.

A great first book, that pulls at the heartstrings, recommended to lovers of historical fiction and women’s fiction, especially those interested in WWII and the home front in the UK. I will be following the author’s career with interest in the future.

Book description

What if keeping your loved ones safe meant never seeing them again? 

Norfolk, 1940: Sylvia’s husband Howard has gone off to war, and she is struggling to raise her two children alone. Her only solace is her beach hut in Wells-Next-The-Sea, and her friendship with Connie, a woman she meets on the beach. The two women form a bond that will last a lifetime, and Sylvia tells Connie something that no-one else knows: about a secret lover… and a child.

Canada, present day: When Martha’s beloved father dies, he leaves her two things: a mysterious stash of letters to an English woman called ‘Catkins’ and directions to a beach hut in the English seaside town of Wells. Martha is at a painful crossroads in her own life, and seizes this chance for a trip to England – to discover more about her family’s past, and the identity of her father’s secret correspondent.

The tragedy of war brought heartbreaking choices for Sylvia. And a promise made between her and Connie has echoed down the years. For Martha, if she uncovers the truth, it could change everything…

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview of #Comedy Lush: A True Story, Soaked in Gin by @gfernie1 #TuesdayBookBlog

Lush: A True Story, Soaked in GinLush: A True Story, Soaked in Gin by Gabrielle Fernie

4 stars

Lush: A True Story, Soaked in Gin is a wonderful witty book. It opens with Gabby hearing news that her best friend is getting married. But she’s been side-stepped for the role of Maid of Honour due to her capricious nature. The reader is then taken on a roller-coaster year-long ride as Gabby prepares for the wedding finale; here she hopes to show everyone that she can actually be a well behaved grown-up.

Gabby is currently an out of work actress; she’s happy to tell you that she drinks, smokes and enjoys her food. She also behaves outrageously and inappropriately, especially when she’s drunk. But she’s also happy to laugh at herself.

The reader is thrown into Gabby’s disastrous life as she tries desperately to find a decent job, a boyfriend for keeps and a diet plan that works. It’s very, very funny; I laughed so much I had tears rolling down my face. I particularly enjoyed the fat farm; five days of sergeant-major style workouts. Also the Dinner Date, a TV show which mixed Come Dine With Me and First Date. And I fell in love with Nana Edna, with her knitted swimsuit and motorised wheelchair.

Comedy can be a hard genre to write, and humour itself is such a personal thing. Something that one person finds hilarious might barely raise a smile in another. This worked for me as the comedy was all about Gabby and her life. A very enjoyable book.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

‘Arms linked, just as we did when we were seventeen, we teeter our way to the club, pausing to tug Emma’s stiletto out of a drain cover and sling our empty wine bottle into the bin. For the first time in a long while I feel truly happy. I want to be standing arm-in-arm with my best friend, both completely pole-axed, for the rest of my days. And then it comes to me, with a stab: this is possibly our last night out together as free women…’

Gabby and Emma have been best friends since primary school in Wales. Emma has a stable job, a nice home and has just got engaged. Gabby has had a succession of disastrous one-night-stands and five awful jobs since drama school . . . and she has just been diagnosed with scurvy. She has one year until the wedding to pull herself together and prove to her friends and family that she can be a proper grown-up.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Coppe: book two of #fantasy adventure The Rahki Chronicles by @WriterRSJ

Coppe (Rahki Chronicles, #2)Coppe by Rennie St. James

4 stars

Coppe is book two of The Rahki Chronicles, a fantasy adventure series which blends the modern world with that of the Romani and tribes who follow animal spirits.

In book one, the story introduced us to a prophecy which surrounded two people, a gifted child seer and her female protector. Together, it was said, they would bring changes to the gypsy and Rahki peoples.

Nadya and Mia are thought to be those that the prophecy spoke of, but not everyone is pleased by their appearance. There is unease and trouble amongst many of the tribes, and some seek to divert the powers of leadership for themselves, while others have vowed to protect the pair; two Rahki warriors, a genius doctor and a Romani witch, stand by their side.

In book two the unusual band hide away, so that they can learn, train and form plans. They must find out who has been behind a recent attack. Their final destination is a meeting of the clans in California where Mia hopes to be formally accepted as Nadya’s warrior protector.

This book was filled with the preparations that the group needed to move forward. It was good to learn more about the Rhaki world and the strengths of each member of this makeshift clan. They  also faced the serpent threat and chose to take the fight to him. Once again the spiritual elements of the book appealed to me, and kept me invested in the story which will culminate in book three.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Training to save the world isn’t as easy as the movies make it look.

Less than six months ago, Mia Rayner abandoned her normal life to become a protector guardian for her Gypsy charge. Her warrior training isn’t exactly going according to plan. After surviving a second attack by Snakes, she and Nadya have taken refuge at an abandoned camp in Rochester, New York. However, they aren’t alone – a Wolf, two Eagles, and a Romani witch still act as their escort.

Tensions rise as the darkness of winter descends and a mysterious visitor invades their camp. Memories of the past bring more questions than answers, and terrifying nightmares foretell a new danger lurking in the shadows.

As Mia prepares to corner a serpent to save Nadya, she wonders who will remain by her side when war begins and blood is spilled.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Thriller No One Can Hear You by @NikkiCAuthor #SundayBlogShare

Today’s team review is from Anita, she blogs here https://jenanita01.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Anita has been reading No One Can Hear You by Nikki Crutchley

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A brilliant opening prologue, the story opens in a foster home in 2001.

Faith Marsden had been in worse places, but a late night escapade finds her in somewhere much worse…

Sixteen years later, Zoe Hayward, a teacher at a boys school, is unfairly sacked because of an incident with one of the boys. Her mother, who she hasn’t seen in years, dies and Zoe must return home to arrange the funeral, so she is unable to stand her ground over the dismissal.

Zoe is just doing her duty regarding her mother but gradually becomes involved in the mystery of the missing girls in her hometown. The authorities seem to want it all to disappear, but she isn’t about to let that happen.

Fast paced in the beginning, the thread of this story alternates between the characters and their chapters, which vastly increased the tension.

Such a complicated and skilful plot, you really need to be on your toes with this one. The story unpeels like an onion, each layer full of frustrating clues and red herrings. By the time I was just over halfway through, the tension had built to an almost unbearable level.

The story slowly descends into a gruelling hell as the author describes the extent of the missing girl’s trauma with painful precision.

The climax of the story begins when Zoe makes an important discovery, triggering one of the best finales I have read in a while…

Book description

‘He said that they’d let me go on purpose. That they could easily find me if they wanted to. He said that they didn’t want me. That I was too much trouble. He said if I went to the cops, he’d know. If I told Sonya, he’d know. If I talked to friends or teachers, he’d know. He told me to pretend it didn’t happen. He told me to consider it a compliment, that I was too strong. His last words to me were, ‘Just forget’.

Troubled teen Faith Marsden was one of several girls abducted from Crawton, a country town known for its picturesque lake and fertile farmland. Unlike the others, she escaped, though sixteen years on she still bears the emotional and physical scars.

Zoe Haywood returns to Crawton to bury her estranged mother Lillian, who has taken her own life. As she and Faith rekindle their high-school friendship, they discover notes left by Lillian that point to two more young women who recently disappeared from Crawton. But Lillian’s confused ramblings leave them with more questions than answers.

As Faith and Zoe delve deeper into the mystery, they become intent on saving the missing women, but in doing so are drawn into Auckland’s hidden world of drugs, abduction and murder. And then Faith decides to confront the mastermind – on her own.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview of Ghostly #WesternRomance Novella Comes A Specter by Keta Diablo

Comes A Specter, Book 2, Ghostland SeriesComes A Specter, Book 2, Ghostland Series by Keta Diablo

3 stars

Comes A Specter is light historical western romance with a paranormal theme.  It is set in 1881, in Montana. Widow Anya has been left to run her ranch after her husband was driven to suicide by a malevolent ghost. When the ghost turns his attentions to her ten year old son, she seeks the help of childhood friend and shaman, Sutter Sky.

At just 87 pages, this was a quick read. But, written in the third person, I found it distanced me from the characters. The storyline moves swiftly; I could quite happily have enjoyed a slower pace where time was spent layering both the characters and the story to build in a little more tension and atmosphere. I was very interested in the Native American elements; Sutter’s traditional and shaman background left me wanting to know more.

Overall, a pleasant way to spend a few hours reading time, but it left me feeling rather flat; I felt it needed more than the 87 pages in order to make it memorable, with more detail and depth.

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Book description

Six months ago, Anya Fleming’s ten- year-old son, Willie-boy, found his father hanging in the barn. Traumatized over his father’s suicide, the boy hasn’t spoken a word since. Now, Willie-boy has come down with a grave, unknown illness and there’s only one man who can save him, Sutter Sky, a learned Blackfoot shaman known as Yellow Smoke—a shaman who was once deeply in love with Anya.

But Fate had other plans for Anya and Sutter—she was forced to marry Lewis Fleming, a cruel man who berated her night and day, and brokenhearted Sutter immersed himself in the mystical customs and beliefs of his People and became a shaman

As if Anya didn’t have enough to deal with after her husband’s death and son’s illness, an evil, sinister ghost is terrorizing their ranch. Anya is convinced the spirit is Lewis, who apparently isn’t done making her life miserable.
When she turns to Yellow Smoke for help, will he put side his bitterness and save Willie-boy? And can the renowned shaman dispel the powerful ghost from their lives and send him back to Hades?

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