Book: Soul Searching
Publication Date: October 21, 2017
Length: 71,000 words
Reviewed by Meredith
Something lurks within the walls of the house Trevor Mathews and his best friend Merrick Taylor share. It watches them and their friends. It needs them. It knows their weaknesses.
Trevor’s in love with Merrick and hasn’t got the nerve to tell him. Merrick’s relationship is already failing, but he doesn’t believe he deserves what he truly desires. And the dark presence enjoys their suffering.
The entity wants to exploit them, push Merrick’s boyfriend into fits of jealousy and possessiveness, encourage Trevor to avoid the man he’s stood by most of his life, and frustrate their friend Tempest who’s tired of knowing Trevor and Merrick are perfectly matched souls, but they’re too scared to try.
The entity needs them to fight, to hurt, to scream at each other in anger and pain. It thrives on their helplessness and targets their insecurities. And it won’t stop until it has devoured their joy, destroyed their hope, and eventually, shattered their soul
When I saw this book release I didn’t hesitate to get on board with it. This author has never disappointed with her writing. Soul Searching proves how amazingly this author writes thrillers. Like The Yearning and Reaping Havoc series she masters the haunting feeling and how the power of love can fight off the darkest evil.
There’s truly so much to love about this. She chose to go British, which was a wonderful treat! It’s friends to lovers and an unrequited love story. Two favorites all wrapped into one exciting book.
Merrick and Trevor have known each other since they were young(er). At some point in that friendship Trevor realizes he is in love with Merrick and he endures watching his friend go from one broken bad boy to another. All the while staying loyal, supportive, and a rock. In return, Merrick is all the things Trevor needs in his life.
Tempest is the best friend in the middle and as she watches these two dance around each other it’s hard for her to keep quiet. This was so perfectly done in my opinion. The romantic suspense was just as thrilling as the haunting entity trying to kill them all.
Yup! You read that right. Here you have these two guys working stuff out and this dark thing trying to murder all happiness and stop their hearts. That was creepy and thrilling and the execution of it all worked well.
This story is a page turner. Once you begin you will find it incredibly hard to stop. This is NOT a horror story at all. There's no gore or anything of that sort. It's exciting, a little creepy, a lot intense, and lovely. An AJ Rose book is always a treat and I’m so excited she wrote this one.
Sam and her friends were the only ones who left. Everyone else crashed when the rooms got wobbly and the hour late. Dave had been right about our poor-man’s karaoke making me feel better. Merrick and Will had emerged about an hour after they disappeared, and even Will, poured all over Merrick like an oil slick, couldn’t ruin my mood by then. We’d danced, sung at the top of our lungs, drank, and in general acted like the twenty-year-old idiots we were until the wee hours.
The clock numbers blurred, and I squinted to see better. After three. I stood and stretched, then put a hand on the couch to steady myself. Except I grabbed Merrick’s shoulder instead, earning a growl from Will. Merrick smiled his sweet, drunken smile at me, ignoring his guard dog, and patted my hip affectionately.
“I’m going to bed.” A wave of defiance made me lean down to drop a kiss on Merrick’s upturned forehead, and I had to suppress a snicker at the murderous look Will shot me. I turned to the other couch where Tempest sat sideways on Dave’s lap, hiding my smirk. “Pest, are you and Dave staying? I’ll pull out the sofa bed and get you blankets and a pillow if you are.”
Her hiccup was adorable, and Dave chuckled. “Probably a good idea, mate.”
I went into the hallway to the cupboard beneath the stairs, where we kept odds and ends like the Hoover and bedding. Tempest stumbled after me and took the blankets out of my arms, whispering in such a loud voice, there was no way no one else heard her. We’d turned the music down hours ago in deference to the neighbours, despite not liking them much. High road and all that.
“You’re playing with fire, kissing Merrick in front of Will. He wanted to kick your arse.”
I’m sure my eyes were bleary, and I know they were unfocused as I tried to look at her. “Let him try.” Still, I kept quieter than her. I really didn’t think I could throw a punch in this state if I had to. “I’m not going to change how I treat him because of some bloke who thinks he has a claim.”
She smacked my shoulder harder than I think she meant to, and I dropped the pillows on the sofa to rub it. “He wouldn’t have a claim if Merrick dumped him for you. Tell him!”
I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Can we not tonight, Pest? Really. I’m too drunk and stupid to have this fight again.”
She hugged me, resting her head on my chest. “Fine. I just worry. He talks to me, too, you know.”
I stopped rubbing her back and went still. “What?”
“I’m friends with both of you. You think I don’t know things? Can’t see the spark between you? Hell, even Will sees it. Why do you think he’s such a possessive git when you’re around?”
Trying to deny a flutter of hope butterflying around my stomach, I disentangled from her to fold out the bed and put sheets on the shitty bare mattress, going for nonchalance and probably failing miserably. “Has he said anything?” Immediately kicking myself for asking, I avoided looking at her.
“If I’m not telling your secrets to him, I’m not telling his to you.”
I did look at her then. She stood with her arms folded, obstinate even in her drunkenness. “He has secrets?”
Her lips tightened. “Talk to him. He’s your best friend, but you communicate worse than monkeys. Have an actual conversation with him about something real for a change, and you’ll see for yourself. Then I can stop being a pensieve for all your manly feelings.”
“Uh-uh. You’re not getting out of this. What did he say?” I grasped her shoulders and forced her to look at me.
She petted my face with both hands. Her fingers were cold. “You’re cuter than Will, you know that? All that shaggy blond hair and those icy blue eyes. Especially when you wear your glasses. You look like a nerdy model.”
I gripped her wrists lightly. “Stop trying to change the subject. Tell me.”
She sighed heavily. “He’s just wondered a few times why he has such bad luck with men and said if he could find someone he clicks with, like he does with you, it would be easy.” She straightened, her face going fierce. “You have no idea how hard it was for me not to tell him for you.” Her fingers on my cheeks went pinchy, and she gently shook my face from side to side. “Do you know how much it sucks being stuck in the middle? I love you both, and you’d be so good for each other, but he’s fucking oblivious, and you’re fucking scared.”
“Ow.” I let her go, putting my hands over my heart, then resumed making her bed. “Tell me how you really feel.”
“I’m not the one who needs to be honest about that.”
I socked a pillow at her, and as she was about to hit me back with it, Jamie came in with a drink in one hand and his mobile in the other, weaving ever so slightly. “You guys. You guys. You have to see this.”
He shoehorned in between us and waved his phone until I had to grab it from him to hold it still. We peered at the screen, but I failed to see what he was showing us.
“I’ve been taking pictures all night, because they say you can get blorbs or shadows from ghosts that you can’t see in person.” He tried to explain, but I had no idea what he was on about.
“Orbs.” Tempest’s correction held no derision, only interest.
“What’s an orb?” I’d never heard of it.
“Little ball of light that flies around and can’t be explained. They say orbs are the beginning of an apparition manifesting itself. Sometimes they only show up in pictures.”
I was surprised Tempest wasn’t too drunk to say those words all in a row like that, so they took a minute to sink in. “Wait, an apparition?” I squinted at the photo, but it still didn’t look like anything more than a picture of the top of our stairs and the darkened door of the loo.
“Alan!” Jamie’s shout nearly blew out my eardrum. “You have to come see this!”
On Alan’s heels came Merrick and Will, and we all crowded around the phone, but none of us knew what we were looking at. Will tried to snatch it from my hand, but I held it out of his reach and glared at him.
“Oi, watch it, mate.”
“Quiet!” Tempest nearly hissed it. “I can see it.” Taking the phone from me (much more gently than Will had tried to), she angled it so we all had a view. She pointed. “In front of the door to the loo. There’s a dark spot.”
“Exactly!” Jamie practically crowed, he was so excited. “I thought I was just off my face and seeing things, so I stopped on the steps to take a picture, and it actually showed up.”
Now that they pointed it out, I could see it, a dark mist sort of hovering a foot above the floor and taking up the middle of the doorway. It had ragged edges and honestly just seemed like black fog, or maybe a shadow from something out of frame. I said as much.
“Come here!” Jamie pulled on my elbow and hauled me to the foot of the steps. “Look.”
I looked up and squinted. He’d left the light on in the upstairs hall, but I couldn’t see anything. Then again, I couldn’t see much, given my inebriation and how tired I was.
Beside me, Alan gasped. “Holy shit!”
Tempest’s voice was reverent. “It’s swirling.”
That’s when I saw it, by looking for movement instead of contrasting light and dark. It was there, a slow churn of something dark and cloudy, like a swarm of sluggish bees.
We stared for a long moment. I was unsure what to do, but I didn’t want to go sleep in my room anymore. I’d have to walk through it to get around the rail running along the hallway.
“Go away.” My directive rang loud in the quiet house, the only other sound faint music still playing in the living room. The fog dissipated.
Tempest backhanded my shoulder. “Why’d you do that?”
I glowered unsteadily at her. “Because I don’t want my house to be haunted, Pest. This isn’t a party trick, okay? I have to live here.” I couldn’t explain away that shadow, whatever it was.
Over her head, Merrick’s wide eyes met mine. “That was no neighbour playing tricks on us.”
I couldn’t tell how scared he might or might not have been, but I couldn’t dispute his words.
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