In this sequel to Stonebridge, it is 1959, and Rynna Wyatt's abusive husband Jason has fallen to his death after a fight with his bookish, disabled cousin Ted Demeray. The police would like to know exactly what happened, but Ted and Rynna can't tell the whole truth. Jason's death doesn't end his relationship with them either. Rynna is pregnant with his child and traumatized by his abuse. She and Ted leave Stonebridge Manor to start a new life in Brenford, where Ted teaches geology at the university, but Jason's restless spirit follows them and continues to haunt Rynna's dreams. He wants her back. He wants revenge. And he wants his son. Can Ted and Rynna find a way to oppose his claims and finally put him to rest?
As Rynna and Ted escape the family manor together, they must navigate her pregnancy amid their blossoming relationship, but they soon find themselves plagued by the past: Jason’s ghost is obsessed with possessing his soon-to-be-born son, Robert (“I take what is mine” is his constant refrain), and Rynna can’t shake the nightmares of Jason terrorizing her—both in life and in death. Her relationship with Ted is destructive in its own right: Rynna’s deep insecurity pushes her to pursue marriage with him, and children of their own, despite his fears that their children will inherit his disabling arthritis, and Ted’s manipulative treatment of Rynna echoes her past marriage. Added to the mix is Jason’s ghost, repeatedly threatening to kill Rynna and Ted or steal Robert, and Ted’s memories of his failed relationship with prior girlfriend Sylvia, to whom he’d been “sort of engaged.”
The abusive dynamics between Rynna and Ted may be triggering for some readers, but Griffin takes time to explore the past trauma shaping their interactions. That theme of two wounded souls stays center stage throughout, although the character-driven moments are interlaced with chilling supernatural angst that gives the novel some edge. Rynna’s determination to protect her son adds much needed optimism, and, despite an abrupt ending, the epilogue is rewarding.
Takeaway: Love struggles to overcome trauma, past and present, in this dark romance.
Comparable Titles: Nancy Price’s Sleeping with the Enemy, John R. Holt’s When We Dead Awaken.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A