“I do not see ghosts!” uttered more than once by Suzy Wanamaker, is one of the most memorable lines in Come Dance With Me. And even though readers may want to disagree with her, there’s one thing they can agree with: this is an intriguing page-turner. Originally titled Come Closer, this novel is the first of Jessica L. Jackson’s Back Beyond series.
Suzy is a quirky “archeologist” who literally runs into Jared Owens, general store owner, and widowed single father in this small-town paranormal romance. Suzy Wanamaker, the heroine, is also the town kook. However, in a very rare character twist, she’s not ridiculed but respected in the town, and even sits on the town council. She is a member of The Family—one of the founding families of Port Grange—a family where generations of its female children have been able to “look” into the past. This is the basis of Suzy’s unique position of otherness and veneration in the town.
Jared and his thirteen-year-old daughter Arlee moved from Boston to Port Grange. He’s bought the town’s General Store and mill house property, but is he here because he wants to be? Or is he fleeing Boston to protect his daughter from a stalker he can’t see?
The real draw for most of the novel is the mystery surrounding this stalker. Who is Uriah Kendler, and was Arlee’s mother’s death because she succumbed to the stalker’s charms? We’re first introduced to Uriah in the prologue, set at Mrs. Owen’s funeral during the graveside service. Arlee has left her mother’s graveside because she’s feeling nauseated and meets the stalker behind a tree. But what’s eerie is that only Arlee sees him.
At first, Arlee thinks she is seeing ghosts and that Uriah is one of those ghosts. Suzy corrects her by explaining what she’s really seeing are time-visions, or visions of another period in time, and that she sees them, too. But even Suzy must admit this time-vision is not like any other she’s “seen.” For one thing, Uriah “sees” her, too. And it feels alluring and creepy at the same time. Jared just wants him stopped. Uriah is a threat to those he cares most about, his daughter and now even Suzy. While there is an obvious romance between Jared and Suzy, it plays in the background to this entrancing mystery.
When Suzy describes the stalker to Jared, Suzy mentions that he looks exactly like Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood. Errol Flynn, a famous actor from the 1930s through the 1950s, was a known womanizer and philanderer. “Robin Hood” was advertised in its trailer as “the most romantic movie of all time.” The fact that Jackson uses a character that looks exactly like him was probably not a coincidence.
Because it’s not filled with intense romantic moments, Come Dance With Me is more for readers who like a happily ever after for their paranormal mysteries as well as the heroes and heroines in them. Come for the romance, but stay for the paranormal mystery.
Come Dance With Me is now available for purchase.
ABOUT JESSICA JACKSON:
I’ve been writing since I was nineteen. I thought I was going to be a science fiction writer, but I could never seem to come up with a decent idea. My youngest sister reminded me of the years when I used to read romances every day and suggested that I switch genres. Well, I’ve never looked back—particularly when I realized every genre could be found within the romance genre—there are sub-genres within sub-genres. Wherever my imagination takes me, I can create a romance story. Thank goodness for my youngest sister’s suggestion.
For more on me, check out my website.