Authors: J.P. Barnaby & Rowan Speedwell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Length: 234 pages
Reviewed by Sammy
Noah Hitchens loves the New York City life he worked hard to build. But when his father dies and leaves him a bankrupt bookstore in their sleepy Georgia hometown, Noah knows he has to save it. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know anything about business. He finds unlikely help in Henry, the man who owned Stardust Books before his 1966 murder, and Kyle St. James, a shy but kind-hearted out-of-towner with a past almost as mysterious as Henry's.
Kyle came to Aster, Georgia, looking for redemption. On the run and out of hope, he’s just trying to get on with his life. Then he meets Noah, a ghost, and a big sloppy lab named Jake who redefine his idea of living. But his past is closing in, and when it finds him, they could lose everything.
Some of the best memories Noah Hitchens had was reading with his father in their bookstore, Stardust. Those cherished thoughts kept Noah warm many a night while he worked at a frantic pace at a job he didn’t really love in the heart of New York City—a far cry from the quiet little town of Aster where he grew up. When the news came that his beloved father had passed away, a grief stricken Noah returned home to face both the burial of his only parent and the mountain of debt he’d left behind in the tiny little bookstore they both loved. An extension might help Noah both decide exactly whether or not he wanted to move back home and keep the book store alive and also give him some breathing room just to grapple with his grief but it wasn’t to be so. A former schoolmate and bully held the only way Noah could see to getting the large debt repaid and the guy took absolute glee in letting Noah know he had very little chance of making the deadline for repayment.
With little hope, Noah’s life was about to change—first in the mystical sense and next in the physical one. A ghost would help steer him in his decision making and a mysterious young man would become the friend he needed. But with all the help Noah still might be in water too deep to tread successfully.
Please forgive the bare bones synopsis but I really don’t want to give away too much of this very entertaining romance/mystery novel, A Pocketful of Stardust, by J.P. Barnaby and Rowan Speedwell. Suffice it to say that this story was a quick read for me primarily because these two authors are able to so smoothly craft characters who immediately capture your attention and your emotions. Both Noah and Kyle were just lovely—both a bit lost and in need of real comfort and both uncertain where their future lay. There attraction is gradual and tenderly written with Kyle exploring so much of his new feelings with both a bit of awe and a bit of dread. While Noah grieves and Kyle unravels the mystery surrounding his life for Noah to understand, the ghost, Henry, provides some much needed humor and a few breaks from the ongoing drama that surrounds the future of the bookstore.
The side cast of characters in this novel was just priceless. I loved the older women—their strength, their know-how and their perseverance. They took care of Noah and Kyle both and I loved that while they were constantly present their attentions were never cloying or interfering—they were just there as supportive and steadying companions. While I really enjoyed this novel there were a few problems along the way. The first was the strange introduction of the ghost and the seeming lack of shock or fear on Noah’s part. I thought it really odd that those moments felt so blasé as if Noah saw ghosts all the time. The other element had to do with the hierarchy at the bank and how this story was actually resolved. I can’t go into much detail without ruining the ending but suffice it to say that I thought it was rather strange that the VP of the bank could talk down the President and chief loan officer. That didn’t quite ring true to me as both the aforementioned were painted as such devious bad elements. However, other than those few niggles, I felt this story was a really lovely romance with a sinister mystery element that kept the whole thing moving along quite nicely.
By all indications, A Pocketful Of Stardust is the first in a new series by two wonderfully strong authors and I am looking forward to reading more by this dynamic duo.
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