“Death’s Desire” by Stevie Woods
Hugh hasn’t seen his Simmercy relatives
for several years due to an inappropriate attraction to the
son, Charles, who is just a few years younger than he is.
When he arrives at their opulent country hall, he’s unhappy
to discover that he still feels the same way about Charles
as he did years earlier. The appearance of a ghost bearing
a tale of a scandalous and tragic event from the family’s
past distracts him somewhat, especially as he is the only
one who can see the man. Will the search for the means to
help the ghost bring Hugh and Charles closer together?
“Death’s Desire” is a tale that is
both sad, due to the horrific events that led to the ghost’s
existence, and hopeful. Hugh and Charles’ search for the
means to free the ghost is interesting, and their romance is
sweet. Although there is never any real doubt about the
outcome, I enjoyed “Death’s Desire” quite a bit.
“The Shade on a Fine Day” by Charlie
The parish has a handsome new curate,
William Church, and the local single ladies are all
atwitter. Even Beatrice Swann succumbs to the curate’s
inadvertent charms, much to the chagrin of her brother,
Benjamin. Things aren’t what they seem with a couple of the
townspeople, however, as a strange dinner party at Canon
Newington’s house will soon show.
“The Shade on a Fine Day” is a
well-written Regency tale of a strange ghost, secrets, and
romance. I like Charlie Cochrane’s restrained writing a
lot, and the unusual ghost was really cool, but the romance
took a long time to get going. At first, it was so subtle
that I had a hard time believing it when the characters
finally decided to talk to each other. When they did get
together, however, it was very sweet. “The Shade on a Fine
Day” is a good read, but expect a slow pace.
“Green River” by Jardonn Smith
During the Great Depression, work was
very difficult to find. The Works Progress Administration
put men to work improving roads and doing other public
works. Ernest Surbaugh found himself, along with his
brother and uncle, at just such a WPA camp, in Southern
Missouri, in 1938. There he meets new friends and stumbles
upon a very strange sort of ghost.
“Green River” was my least favorite
story in the anthology. It’s told in a kind of meandering
way, which I’m sure was purposefully done because the story
is framed as a much older Ernest telling a story to a
younger relative. The setting of a WPA camp near the
Gasconade river is very well realized (and I squeed at the
Missouri setting). The characters are interesting and felt
real for the time period. The thing that bothered me most
was that it seemed at first that Ernest was going to get
together with one character, and then he’s suddenly with
another. I also wasn’t crazy about the ghost portion, which
had a cool explanation but a strange way of manifesting
itself. “Green River” is a good way to get the feel of a
1930’s WPA camp, but as a romance I didn’t like it as much.
Past Shadows is a varied anthology featuring
three different settings and three different kinds of
ghost. All three stories have something to offer to fans of
ghost stories and historical romance.