Nearly Departed Review
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A rambling three-story house out on Highway 74 speaks to me every time I drive by it, and I just know that I belong with that house. I used to think that maybe I was just a bit nuts until I read Suzanne Rossi’s Nearly Departed. A house speaks to the main character in this charming romance, too.

Shady Oaks belongs to the ghosts who sleep in its walls—and they don’t like anyone disturbing their rest. Only one lone ghost guards the house from her rocking chair while knitting a sweater that’s never finished. But before too long, the house speaks to someone, and a new occupant moves in and awakens the spirits.

All her life, Cybil Austin has given in to her mother’s demands—until she finally decides to move far enough away that her mother can’t hamper her life anymore. On a house hunt, she discovers the old LaForge place in a backwater Mississippi town. It needs major repairs, but something about Shady Oaks calls to her, so she buys it. She hires a general contractor whose good looks turn her into a klutz, and she can’t concentrate on anything but how nice he looks in jeans.

Bitter divorcee Maxwell Maitland arrives at Shady Oaks to begin repairs, but his team isn’t there long before tools go missing and the workers are harassed by unseen forces. His pretty employer is also disturbed by noises in the night, but he assures her that it’s just the house settling. Then things escalate out of control, and employees start walking off the job.

Nearly Departed reminded me of the old movie Beetlejuice—only without the twisted, perverted ghost played by Michael Keaton. The ghosts don’t wish to cause harm; they just want Cybil out of their house, so they can go back to their rest—except for the Colonel, who likes to go off and fight the Yankees, hoping the battle will end in some other way besides his death.

Cybil is a likable heroine, made even more endearing because of her tendency to be a klutz when she gets nervous. I’m somewhat like that, so I can relate. And although I can’t understand why some people let their parents dominate them, I had to admire her for having the guts to do something about her situation.

Since Nearly Departed is told mostly from Cybil’s first-person point of view, though, we don’t really get to know Max all that well—except for what Cybil observes about him (when she’s not hung up on how cute his butt is).

Sweet with a pinch of humor, Nearly Departed is a pleasing read. You’ll enjoy spending a couple of hours with it each day until you finish—just don’t expect the ghosts to be creepy or scary.

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