Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Source: Pleasanton Library
What it’s about:
When Andromeda Miller returns ten years’ worth of alimony checks to her ex-husband, she is met with a surprise. A job offer. One month’s salary for 10,000 dollars. An offer too good for Andy to reject. North knows that when he sends Andy to the haunted castle she will figure out a way to handle any and all problems—all without missing her 3 o’clock baking session with the child Alice. Andy’s mission is to take care of two orphaned children in a rebuilt castle in rural Ohio, a castle complete with its own moat. Andy arrives at the castle to find two kids suffering abandonment issues, one seedy housekeeper who doesn’t keep house, a derelict structure...oh, and a trio of ghosts. As if that’s not enough, Andy is visited by an opportunistic journalist, an ex-mother-in-law, a mother, a fiance, and an ex-husband convinced he can uncover a charlatan.
Andy is a problem solver and soon has matters in hand. Still, even Andy’s skills are challenged when the ghosts show up. Can Andy trust the beautiful dancing ghost who offers love advice? What are the old specters’ intentions concerning the children?
Miss J and Peter Quint are old specters now devoid of souls, bound to a house that was transported piece by piece from England. Devotees of Henry James will find much fun here with Miss J and Peter and the two abandoned children as allusions to James’s famous ghost novella The Turn of the Screw.
What I thought:
This is a delightful romp with zany characters balanced by the calm restraint of one North Archer who happens to be Andy’s ex-husband but still very present in her thoughts. Readers will love to root for Andy. She’s brave and honest and creative.
I originally picked up a print version of this book and returned it, judging it a bit simplistic. Later, I decided to give this novel another chance in audio format and realized it was too much fun to put aside, and in fact, the story becomes more complex as it moves forward. While some characters are two-dimensional, the children will charm readers. The author does a wonderful job of exposing their hard-won strength in the face of much adversity as well as revealing their poignant vulnerability. They become the impetus for Andy’s character growth. Andy, who never wanted children, evolves into their fiercest advocate and protector against any and all villains.
The author clearly had fun with names. Ensconced in the deteriorating castle is the greedy Mrs. Crumb. Mrs. Crumb, the wicked housekeeper; North Archer, the straight shooter; and Southie, the ne’er do well brother. Whenever authors play with names this way, I think of Dickens. And when authors have fun with names, so do I as the reader.
I enjoyed watching Andy wrestle with her love life. She loves the children, but does that mean she can reunite with their 3rd cousin, who happens to be her ex, the cerebral North Archer? Well, romance is in the air, along with some not-so-friendly ghosts, so you can probably guess.
If you’re looking for a romantic ghost story with a gutsy heroine, if you believe in second chances for family and love, then this is the book for you.
What a fun idea this is! From the 31 Ghost Novels to Read Before You Die anthology of reviews, I selected The Face by Dean Koontz to cast with my dream team. Here are my choices:
Dad aka Channing Manheim. Channing Manheim is known as The Face, the most dazzling of Hollywood actors. I had to go with Matt Bomer from White Collar who truly has one of the most beautiful faces I've seen.
Ethan Truman. Ethan Truman is the head of security for Channing Manheim. I chose Josh Duhamel from Safe Haven because he looks like an intelligent detective.
Fric Manheim. Fric is the precocious and lonely child of Channing Manheim who just needs someone to love. He could be portrayed by Jacob Tremblay from the movie Room.
Corky Laputa. I see Danny DeVito bringing a quirky malevolence to this anarchist evildoer.
Brittina Dowd, the tutor. I see her as Sharon Gless from Burn Notice. The tutor is a minor character, but I had to include her because I'm a tutor and because her teaching philosophies are so ridiculous.
Hazard Yancy, Los Angeles detective and close friend of Ethan, would be played by Larenz Tate from Game of Silence.
Ghost Duncan would be aptly portrayed by Jeffrey Dean Morgan from the series Supernatural.