150 years ago, Lady Olivia Kent and Lord Richard Abbotsford are lovers, but she is betrothed to another, Lord Worthington, who – with an eye on her fortune – will not set her free.
Fast forward to the present and Richard is a ghost haunting the Kent Estate - once Olivia's home, now a hotel. Claire and Holly are visiting England, and are very excited to be staying there. But immediately on their arrival, they join a tour of the old stately home and Claire is terrified by a man's touch and voice – though there is nobody there. We, the reader, know that Richard has recognised her as the reincarnation of Richard's lost love, Olivia Kent, but Claire has no idea.
This is a traditional ghost story with a twist, expertly told. Debbie McClure tells her readers just enough to instill a sense of suspense and the desire to know what happened to Richard and Olivia. Her characters, both past and present, are well-drawn and the build-up to the haunting is plausible and well-paced.
Mysteries soon unfold as it transpires Worthington was murdered after arguing with Richard Abbotsford, who disappeared the same night. Exactly one year later, Olivia also disappeared though took no belongings with her. Richard is blamed for the murder yet cannot remember anything; and if Olivia ran off to join him why is he haunting her old home and why did she leave everything behind?
Abbotsford appears to Claire on her first evening at Kent Estate, and talks to her as Olivia. She is disbelieving, shocked and incredulous. In the morning she believes the encounter a dream, and we feel Abbotsford's frustration as he tries to get through to her.
The interaction between the 150 year old ghost and the modern woman is well done with great attention paid to the differences in language: both UK/US and modern/historical. Debbie McClure also successfully highlights how attitudes and behaviours have changed as the two main characters repeatedly clash as they get to know each other.
This is an intriguing murder-mystery, ghost and love story and a very enjoyable read that was difficult to put down, and I'm looking forward to book two.
Watch out for an interview with Debbie A McCLure coming soon!
In The Spirit Of Love is available from:
Debbie A. McClure's website: