by Patricia Labud

April 2005
ISBN: 0-8217-7867-6
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

Itís not many stories that can pull off a beginning where the hero dies within the first chapter, but that is exactly what Spirited Away does, and in fact, does it well. Captain William Markham has just been hung for a crime he did not commit. He goes to his death unable to prove his innocence, but it is in death that he plans to gain his vengeance on Richard Barrons.

Lady Arianna Halverson can speak to the dead. Itís her gift and her curse, allowing her to help the dead cross to the other side, but at the same time, alienating her from the living world she longs to be a part of. However, when the ghost of Captain Markham shows up in her home, she knows almost right away that he is a ghost who will not easily cross over. In fact, at times he seems downright alive!

Will is shocked that he can speak to Arianna, but also excited. Now he has a means to gain vengeance! He tries to persuade Arianna to kill Richard Barrons, but Arianna recoils from the thought of taking the life of another, even if he is a decidedly evil person. However, the situation changes when Ariannaís older brother Ethan is shot and Richard Barrons shows up at her door claiming the only way to save Ariannaís livelihood is to marry him! He swears he holds papers that will incriminate Ethan in a number of illegal activities and that until Ethan wakes up to prove otherwise, Arianna is in a very unsafe position. Arianna realizes that she has no choice, so, scared for Ethanís life, she marries Barrons.

Help from an unlikely ally occurs when Will swears that he will aid Arianna. He is coming to care very deeply for her and canít stand to see Arianna in Barronsí clutches. As they work together to find out what information Barrons has against Ethan, their attraction deepens. But nothing can come of it surely, as Will is a ghost. Love however has other plans for this couple.

Wow! Thatís all I can say about this fantastic paranormal Regency treat. Spirited Away is a captivating story from start to finish and is very different than most Regency stories. Pamela Labud has created two very interesting characters in Will and Arianna, each of whom has their own special talents. Itís an unlikely story where a ghost features as one of the main protagonists, but Ms. Labud pulls it off with gusto. Both Arianna and Will are well fleshed out characters that have their own motivations for their decisions. Arianna is most definitely not a typical Regency heroine as she is not a pushover and is more than able to think on her feet. Her love for her brother inspires her to do great things, and with Will along to help, they are most definitely an unbeatable duo. The background of hidden pirate treasure allows for some spooky scenes, some eclectic characters, and a true villain in Richard Barrons.

This is a thrilling story that will have you on the edge of your seat throughout its entirety. If you can get your hands on a copy of this story, donít pass it up. It is well worth your time and effort.

Reviewed in September 2005 by Sarah.

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