Tag Team Review: The Charlatan’s Conquest (Phantom Fixers #1) by Vivien Dean

With love and ghosts, the challenge is figuring out what’s real.

Software engineer Cruz Guthrie needs money for his sister’s cancer treatments. He needs it so badly he’s willing to stand in for a ghost hunter friend and investigate a millionaire’s supposed specters. It should be an easy gig—after all, nobody thinks the haunting is real.

Neurological researcher Brody Weber is furious that Cruz would take advantage of Brody’s father. But his mind changes when spirits manifest—and he realizes Cruz genuinely wants to help. When they learn the paranormal activity centers on Brody, Cruz is willing to fight to free Brody from the entities determined to make his life miserable. With a little help from friends and family—both living and dead—they must figure out why Brody is attracting spirits and how to banish them. Only then can they pursue a future together.

Ann - 3.5 Hearts

I do so love a good ghost story and Charlatan’s Conquest gave me that plus some fluffy feels so I was a happy Peach. That’s pretty much the definition of the Dreamspun Beyond series that I’ve seen so far, I’m referring to them in my brain as paranormal candy and it really hits the spot for me.

Charlatan’s Conquest is a ghost hunting themed tale with likable characters and a decent ghost story to go along with it. But, if ghosties aren’t your thing don’t let that keep you from this one, because while it is a “ghost” story it’s unique in that it’s not necessarily about a specific spectre with a tragic backstory but more about malevolent visitors from the ghost realm who have attached themselves to one of our MC’s, Brody’s world.

In rides our somewhat reluctant hero, Cruz to exorcise the ghosts. Problem is, Cruz is not a ghost buster/hunter by trade but is the bestie of one. Cruz can use the cash though as he helps support his family while his youngest sister battles cancer. Cruz is really a good guy though so he has plenty of qualms about taking money from a client in a field that he doesn’t feel qualified in. Cruz’s friend, Etienne, the legit ghost hunter is out of commission and while I could have easily been on board with Cruz’s unease, the way the author explained the situation and the way it was presented worked. The setup let me be OK with Cruz’s potential payday even though Etienne had determined that there were no ghosts present in Brody’s fathers home, which was true and it took Cruz to take the investigation to the next level.

For a myriad of reasons, Cruz and Brody have not paid attention to their personal lives and become situational workaholics. When they meet though, there is obviously something between them and thankfully this is a Dreamspun Beyond book so there wasn’t a lot of angst about making some changes and spending more time together as they got to know one another while battling the baddies. Cruz ends up earning every penny and Brody got to get a taste of what a normal life can be. Honestly, if the two hadn’t had the connection they did the mystery would never have been solved because the trust had to be there to make progress and the connection gave Brody the trust he needed in Cruz.

I liked these two together very much, as I said, they are likable and their personalities are complementary to each other. The balance is good between the ghost story and the romance, neither was shortchanged and no matter whether you came for the love or the ghosts you’ll be satisfied.

Sara - 3.5 Hearts

I am still feeling my way through this new line from Dreamspun with this being book number two in the series. So far, it’s going well but I feel something is missing and I can’t quite put my finger on it.
We meet Cruz Guthrie as he is offered an easy job from his best friend Etienne for a cool twenty grand. Since Cruz could use the extra cash he is curious but he isn’t in the ghost hunting business like Etienne is but Etienne assures there are no ghosts at the home of one Loren Weber as he’s been there twice before and nothing has happened. But Mr. Weber is insistent and after a short, short course on training, Cruz is headed out to evict some specters.

I need to take a fangirl moment real quick and thank they author for including why Cruz is named Cruz. The honorable mention of the Capwells and Castillos made me ridiculously giddy because NO ONE knows that show and yet, it was in this book so thanks for being awesome that way.


Brody Weber knows that his father can be adamant when he wants something and Brody doesn’t want his dad taken advantage of so he leaves work to drive to his dad’s house to protect him… but what from?
From the minute Brody walks in the door to his father’s house and things become tense, supernatural occurrences start to happen. It’s proof to Cruz that there are ghosts in the Weber house but why hadn’t Etienne who is the professional seen anything happen? Why is it only happening now and to him?

These are the questions that Cruz poses to his best friend and also to Brody after a spilled hot tea and a cold spot around Brody. When it comes to ghosts, Cruz isn’t an expert but he’s a believer and wants to do right by Mr. Weber and evict the hell out of whatever has decided to take up residence in his home. But it’s not as black and white as it appears and when Cruz learns more about the ghosts, he needs the help of his best friend to rid Weber of the dark figures that have latched on.

Well, this wasn’t what I expected at all and in this case it’s a good thing. I wasn’t sure how the title would come into play and I liked that it was duplicitous within the story. Things aren’t as they seem and secrets Brody has been keeping are hurting him he is stressed and depressed. You see, ghosts seem to like Brody and he has a couple entities that like his dark side and don’t want to let go. It’s a good thing he meets Cruz who is one hell of a natural caretaker and that they share a mutual instant attraction to one another and Cruz has a best friend who’s basically a ghost buster.

I liked this but it didn’t wow me or make me want to hug my Nook outright. The chemistry between Cruz and Brody is lovely and they move seamlessly into emotions and new relationship with one another. The ghost hunting deal with Etienne and his ethereal sister Simone was intriguing as was Brody and the reason these ghosts are attached to him. Cruz is an amazing man who will do anything for his family and his family is equally fantastic and yet, something was missing.

I would get excited when things would happen and then feel let down and I can’t quite explain why. I liked the book, I really did but I wasn’t as into it as I’d hoped to be. Cruz and Brody are great together but while I loved them, all I could think about was the possibility that Etienne could be the next book as this is listed as book one in the Phantom Fixers series and all that I need to know about him. Is that wrong? Maybe but he has this mystery about him that has me intrigued to the point of distraction.

The end felt way rushed like we literally just went through some serious stuff with everyone and then… the end. I guess I wanted more than I got. Who knows? At the end though, it was a nice read that gave more spook than I thought it was and makes you wonder what ghosts each of could have hanging around that we make excuses as being something else????

See The Charlatan's Conquest author visit HERE!

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