by Veronica Wilde, paranormal (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-381-3
Hollywood Ghosts is a ménage à trois story involving a ghost hunter (or "parapsychologist" if we want to pretend that we are more technical than we actually are), a film maker, and our housesitter who has no clue that the mansion she is taking care of is haunted by various colorful celebrities that lived and died there in the past.
After leaving her boyfriend whom she found in bed with another woman about a week ago, Rachel Dentley needs a place to stay before the fall semester of UCLA kicks off. Becoming a housesitter for a glamorous mansion in Oleander Canyon for the entire semester seems like the perfect answer to her current situation. She gets to live in luxury in a Spanish revival mansion and all she has to do in return is to feed some pampered cats of some actors who are off filming some movie. What can go wrong, right?
Well, the owners warn her never to go up to the third floor. It's not safe, they say. Rachel is also warned never to use the pool. Hmm. Then there are weird sounds of footsteps during that first night when Rachel is supposed to be alone in the house, not counting those cats. Maybe the cats made the sound. She also sees a woman in an old-fashioned bathing suit using the pool at night. Maybe Rachel is just dreaming. That doesn't explain how the pool was drained earlier that day but is now filled with water though.
She is relieved to have company the next day, but changes her mind when the first guy that shows up is Lorenzo Cortez, her ex-boyfriend's buddy who comes from a long line of Hollywood luminaries and who dabbles in film making himself. Her instinctive dislike of him due to his association with her ex-boyfriend however doesn't stop her from sleeping with him faster than you can say, "Talk about fast!" Girlfriend here clearly doesn't learn. Lucky for her, Lorenzo is actually a sweet guy who has a crush on her and decides to hang around, especially when he realizes that Rachel is staying at one of the most infamous haunted houses in California.
Then Dr Zane Sullivan, the associate professor of parapsychology at UCLA, shows up the next day. He knows Lorenzo although they are more rivals than friends, and he's the blond foil to Lorenzo's darker good looks. Lorenzo wants Zane gone, but Rachel wants Lorenzo (that hussy) so she asks him to stay. Both men are interested in making a name for themselves using this house so there is a professional rivalry going on between them. Rachel happily volunteers to play the mediator, if you know what I mean. Besides, she is trying to start a writing career and therefore she can get something out of this too.
I'd expect two men who hate each other's guts - at least when they are competing for the same breakthrough and the same woman - will be a little harder to coax into getting naked in the same room, but I suppose some men are just too easy when it comes to sex. This isn't a typical threesome story where the two men also happen to be sleeping with each other, a development that I find welcome considering how these two men aren't portrayed as bisexuals in the first place. In fact, unlike a typical threesome, the two men here have their own personalities. Rachel is also a pretty well-developed character in her own right and she is unusual for a heroine in a typical ménage à trois story in that she is the one who actively wants the two men instead of the two men calling the shots and announcing that they are sharing her. I also like how the two men are shown to have a pleasant camaraderie outside the bedroom with their mutual ambitions to make it big, which Rachel also happen to share, heh.
There are no paranormal short-cuts like a soulmate bond or prophecy to explain why the three characters can end up in the same bed. Instead, Ms Wilde chooses to show how the three characters come to a point where they want to hook up and I think she succeeds for the most part. It also helps that the three characters aren't vowing eternal love to each other by the last page but are instead having a blast enjoying each other's company. It makes the whole affair more believable, especially considering the short time they know each other in this story.
As for the ghosts, they aren't benign matchmaking ghosts. The closest I have read to compare is the ghosts in Lisa Cach's A Babe In Ghostland. There is a genuine horror story overtone here which I really enjoy, especially when there is ample build-up to the creepy denouement. What I find very impressive is how Ms Wilde manages to blend the horror and the relationship aspects of the story together so that both fit together very nicely without getting in the way of each other.
Hollywood Ghosts is a most enjoyable and sometimes scary story with a credible threesome tale featuring three well-drawn and likable characters. Too many ménage à trois romps have characterization which is often lacking as well as the characters often jumping into bed together without any realistic build-up. That or the author resorts to bizarre plot devices like magical prophecies, chemical stimulants, and soulmate mumbo-jumbo woo-woo stuff to get the ménage up and away. All of which are refreshingly absent here, of course. Here, Lorenzo and Rachel hop into bed too early for my liking but there is some build-up where all three characters hooking up is concerned. Therefore, in many ways this is easily one of the most memorable and entertaining threesome romps I've come across.
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