So! Andie goes to see her ex-husband North to be all Stop sending me alimony cheques and also I’m getting married again. And he’s like, Fine, but first I have some wards I want you to nanny up for me. They are creepy and everyone says the house is haunted. I will give you an exorbitant sum of money, to make your agreeing to this trip seem reasonable. So she goes and there are ghosts. Named Miss Jessel and Peter Quint who you may remember from Turn of the Screw? Plus an extra teenaged ghost for sass. There are a few clever nods to the whole are-there-ghosts-or-is-she-mad debate, but in the end there are quite inarguably ghosts.
But, ok. There needs to have been a book before this. Because Andie and North are divorced, but they decide within too few pages that they regret doing that. I need to have been there for some of the initial love, some of the post-nuptual wretchedness, and perhaps a bit of the metaphorical plate-smashing and door-slamming. There is nothing to make me nostalgic for their twelve-hour courtship and year-long marriage (this is not me being hyperbolic. This is Romance). The flashbacks aren’t fleshy enough to make me give more than maybe half a damn.
Because there’s no angst. I know we’re all sick of angst, but there needs to be at least a little fretting. North shows up at the haunted manor and Andie is all, Oh, good to see you, because I have some ghosts. And he’s perfect and strong and she’s perfect and makes excellent banana bread and they enjoy it. There are a few believably frustrated moments when she’s all But you never saw me, but he only disagrees for, like a second before being all, You’re right, I was a jerk.
And I like my romantic need to go both ways. This is all Andie being in over her head with ghosts and being relieved beyond all measure when North shows up to deal with the ghosts he doesn’t believe in/protect her from her mother-in-law/oust her unwilling ex-fiance. And while Andie ends up actually doing all of the doings, she spends the whole time being like I neeeeeed North and I feel so much safer now he’s here. And he’s like, Yes, and I…need…Andie? Because I am a heartless majillionaire without her? And I’m like, What you guys need is some fun and whimsy. Because this book is just poking along.
And oh yes the ghosts. That bit, and the bit with the childrens, is actually most of the book AND fiendishly readable, which is probably why the Andie-North segments feel unnecessary. I know it’s not technically a ‘romance’ if no one party is at least feinting at agonizing over another party, but this book would have been substantially better sans tepid sighing.
My expectations were middling to good because of how much I surprisingly enjoyed Welcome to Temptation, and because of how amusing I thought the whole idea of a The-Turn-of-the-Screw-meets-modern-romance was. Alas, this is neither good nor bad.