Title: These Haunted Heights
Author: Ally Blue
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy Link: Buy Link These Haunted Heights
Genre: contemporary m/m, paranormal
Length: Novel (265 pdf pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: Photojournalist Ron worms his way into fisherman Drew’s grief – frozen heart by ways of courage, stubbornness and unshakeable faith in the power of love.
The Blurb: The tiny town of Sebastian’s Bluff is a photojournalist’s dream come true. But Ron Winters doesn’t expect the moody, mysterious man next door to get under his skin and stay there.
When Drew LaSalle meets Ron, feelings he thought twenty years gone stir to life again. He wants what he could have with Ron. But does he want it enough to get past his own walls and grasp it?
Secrets, spirits and tragedy converge as Ron peels back the layers of Drew’s past and Drew fights both Ron and his own ghosts on the haunted road to happily ever after.
The Review: The story opens with Ron and his boyfriend breaking up in mutual consent and without any hard feelings. As they are on vacation in remote Oregon coast town Sebastians Bluff at that time, Ron is left without transport since Terrence takes their rental car with him. He doesn’t mind since there are lots and lots of pretty sights within walking distance, and he can do his shopping with his handcart in a local grocery shop. This is where he meets his next- door neighbor Drew for the first time. The man is a sight to see, but also shy and reclusive, which Ron learns first-hand as he happens upon Drew one day while shooting photos. But instead of being put off by Drew’s dismissive attitude or the town gossip (according to which Drew is a loner, and most probably straight), Ron’s ambition only grows. He makes sure their paths keep crossing and pulls out all the stops with Drew – and boy, does he ever (I’d never thought eating a doughnut or drinking coffee could be that erotic!) And wouldn’t you know, Drew can’t help feeling drawn to the beautiful young photographer who he found attractive to begin with, and who isn’t shy to tell him what he feels and what he wants from Drew.
But Drew’s past entails a dark secret, one he means to keep at all cost. Struggling with guilt and fear, Drew thinks that he will never love again. Ron threatens to bring down his resolve, and Drew fights his own feelings with all his power.
At first, seducing Drew was nothing but a nice sport for Ron. But as he gets to know Drew better, he soon perceives the depths of pain and despair within the other man. Before he knows what happens. Ron is playing for keeps. And so is Drew, but he’s got a formidable opponent: himself.
Both characters are likeable and well-drawn, although I had some minor issues with Drew. He has suffered a terrible trauma, but after so many years and given the way he feels about Ron, he acts a bit erratic and over the top aggressive at times. Yet, this wasn’t so far-fetched that I couldn’t indulge him. Ron, though – he was wonderful, open and unashamed about what he was and what he wanted. His patience with Drew bordered on that of a saint – in his stead, I’d have given up on Drew much earlier. Then again, Ron got the lowdown on Drew’s ghost – quite literally. I found myself really caring for those two, rooting for them and cheering them on to their well-deserved, completely satisfying HEA.
Speaking of which, those ghostbusters were fabulous (although from how they were pictured, I found myself constantly looking for Scooby Doo). By bringing them in, the author took every trace of horror from the plot, turning it effectively into the plain paranormal mystery it was laid out to be.
Due to all the angsty emotional turmoil Drew and Ron have to overcome there wasn’t really a lot of sex in this book; what little there is, was filled with purpose and emotions and described in graphic detail. There were quite many kisses, though, and those were hot enough to scorce the pages.
I also loved the coastal setting of the story and the way the author used Ron’s professional eye to transport me, as a reader to this place where I have never been in my life, picturing it so vividly I could practically smell the sea. Very well done.
All in all, a very well crafted romance with an almost believable paranormal element and a completely satisfying solution. Highly recommended.