by Shiloh Walker, paranormal (2008)
Ellora's Cave, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-4199-1806-3
Alyssa Hutchins has been dead for a year now. Cervical cancer - it was terrible, of course, but at least it isn't as clichéd a way for a fictitious character to go compared to, say, leukemia. Bridgette "Bree" Lancester is her best friend. She also has a big thing for Alyssa's husband Colby Hutchins. Colby has also begun entertaining sexual fantasies and having naughty dreams about Bree. Needless to say, he and Bree feel most guilty about their feelings for the other person.
When the story opens, Colby has finally decided to come back to the house he and Alyssa lived in after spending a year doing what macho men do when they have to deal with their emotions. I'm not sure what exactly he did, but I suspect that a large amount of alcohol and maybe a few sessions of dancing naked in the woods are involved. At any rate, he realizes that Bree has been keeping the house in order and even paying the bills that have to be paid. He realizes that he has to talk to Bree... and confront his feelings for her. Meanwhile, the paranormal aspect of the story comes in the form of Alyssa, who is now a ghost and hoping that her husband will stick it to Bree in the name of moving the hell on.
Okay, that last sentence is really crude, I know, but it sums up my feelings about this story in a nutshell. I don't see Colby's "feelings" for Bree in this story as love, I'm afraid, it's more like a case of a man having the randy urge to have sex. I also have my doubts about the hero. Oh, I know, he has lost his love of his life, et cetera. But this man spent a year slinking off because he is too big a man to deal with his emotions, and when he returns, Bree pretty much caters to his needs as if she's his mother rather than his lover. I'm not sure that Colby is in love with Bree as much as he's just using Bree for some free TLC. There is too much taking on his part from Bree and not giving back enough to make me view this relationship as anything more than a rebound thing on his part.
Perhaps a hundred or so more pages would have improved this story since those pages could have been used to define the relationship between Colby and Bree better. I find that these two fall into bed and decide that they are it way too soon for my liking, especially when Colby comes off way too emotionally needy to be decent husband material for any woman. At the end of the day, Guilty Needs fails to sell me its romance.
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