Release Day Review - A Frost of Cares by Amy Rae Durreson

Military historian Luke Alcott leaps at the chance to live in the seventeenth-century country mansion of Eelmoor Hall, home of the Royal Military School of Medicine, after being offered a job cataloging the school’s archives. Luke believes he chose the perfect place to start a new life and put his broken past behind him. But soon after settling into the old house, he hears strange noises—like footsteps—and he begins to suffer from terrible nightmares.

 The only person Luke can turn to for help is the taciturn caretaker, Jay, a veteran of the Afghanistan war who carries an old battle wound. Together they try to understand Eelmoor Hall’s history and decipher what could be causing the haunting. As the weather grows colder and snow dusts the countryside, a child goes missing. Luke needs to deal with his own demons and learn to trust in love again if he hopes to face down the angry spirit and find the missing girl.

I love how the author told this story. It sooo worked. Luke is telling their story and I don’t mean it’s just in his POV, I mean he is writing down the story of Eelmoor Hall at Jay’s insistence with the hopes that Luke will be able to let the ghost go. It really reads as if a friend is telling me a truly great ghost story because it’s so story-tellerish. That totally makes sense in my head. It’s very personal from the beginning so I felt an immediate connection to Luke because his voice was so strong. Not to short change Jay at all, his presence was just as strong as he made comments to Luke throughout. Jay’s little digs and endearments as he peeks over Luke’s shoulder at what he’s writing, as told through Luke’s voice was completely charming. Note, pay special attention to 21%, it was yummmm and dayum and awwwwww all at once. It also is exactly why I love Jay and Luke together.

We know from the get go that they are an established couple, no mystery there, but that in no way takes away from the romance as the two get to know one another through Jay’s retelling of their winter at Eelmoor Hall. There is more than just one ghost in this story too. Not only is the mystery of the Mistletoe Bride told, but so is Luke’s history and the missing ex who still has a piece of him. That was a heartbreaker right there. It spoke to Luke’s strength of character and loyalty in a way that was really well done.

 You’ll especially enjoy this if you are a native and have any interest at all in history. I’m across the pond from the stories setting and I found it fascinating. I’m sure a big part of that was in how Luke communicates. He’s that awesome history teacher you had (or wish you had) that teaches through anecdotes and makes the historical figures into real relatable people. It’s not that the story was particularly heavy with historical information, just balanced perfectly to make the ghost story make sense to what was happening to them.

 I really love a good old fashioned ghost story and this is exactly that. It’s a story that has roots as a mysterious tragedy and that has been told and retold so many times the truth has been lost along the way. With Luke being a historian, it made perfect sense that he would be able to research the story of the Mistletoe Bride and figure out what facts fit their locale. The story is not overtold, it’s the perfect less-is-more approach. A few perfectly placed words and the absolute best chapter endings ever kept me hooked and deliciously creeped out.

The author did a really great job of balancing the ghost story with the romance between Jay and Luke. They may have been thrown together via circumstance and a haunting, but they didn’t shy away from the good thing they had going. I loved the evolution of their relationship, their banter and the building heat between them. They were both so real and honest, it was refreshing to read the beginnings of a relationship without unnecessary angst. They said what they felt and showed affection naturally. Plus, they had snark, I love snark. Considering the situation they found themselves in, the story could have been too heavy and dark, but the banter and aforementioned snark kept the story relatable throughout. I loved it.

Jay waited longer than I would have done, long enough that I was starting to get restless, but at last he said, “Clear.” 
“I don’t think she’s going to shoot us.” 
"Keep walking, Luke.” 
“I’m walking. Just saying.” 
I was pretty sure the look he was giving me was less than fond. “You’d be a pain to rescue.” 
“Oh, is this a rescue now? I thought we were both just running away.” 

Some of the absolute best parts were when the two were getting to know each other and divulging the stories of their own personal ghosts and then the reaction of the other. The reactions were always very thoughtful, words weren’t thrown into conversation to fill space or placate, every revelation had meaning. When Luke spoke about his ex, Danny, Jay was honest but respectful. Jay lost a leg on a tour in Afghanistan. He’s self-conscious in front of his new lover and the honesty that Luke respected him with was just perfect.

While Jay’s assignment to Luke was to write their story with the hopes of finally letting the ghost go, the conclusion that Luke came to in the end was ideal. This will no doubt be a reread for me in the future. The characters are too good to read just once and I had too much fun with the mystery not to revisit it.

To get your copy of A Frost of Cares follow the link to Dreamspinner Press.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

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