By Lissa Bryan
Ghostwriter is a paranormal romance, but it is also about the “ghosts” that haunt us all: regrets, loss, and guilt. Seth is a ghost, but he’s also a man haunted by his horrible experiences during WWI.
Today, we would understand Seth suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and he could find assistance in therapy and medication. But during Seth’s time, PTSD wasn’t understood or recognized as a legitimate problem.
Gertrude Stein called it the “Lost Generation,” the men who came home from the war changed by their experiences, and tried to fit back in with a society that did not understand. Ernest Hemmingway—who may have been afflicted with it himself—wrote about it in his story Soldier’s Home.
Sadly, it is still an issue we are dealing with today as our troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan. Though we understand PTSD better now and there are treatments for it, the stigma remains. Many of those afflicted, like Seth, try to hide their problems, sometimes with tragic results.
Sara, who comes to live on the isolated little island in Seth’s old house, is battling “ghosts” of her own: a lifetime of emotional abuse from her mother, and later, from her boyfriend. She finds herself dumped and broke, and has to find a cheaper place to live. She has a small advance from her publisher for an autobiography she is ghostwriting for a politician, but that will not last long.
The little house on the island seems like a godsend, and she loves it even more when she finds out it was once the home of Seth Fortner, her favorite author, whose books provided her with much-needed escape from her grim reality when she was young.
Sara is fascinated by Seth, but little is known about his life. His family is strangely tight-lipped on the subject of their famous relative. With the exception of Ginny, the woman who rented the house to Sara, his family doesn’t seem happy to have Sara living there.
Seth is not at all happy to have his solitude disrupted by Sara’s presence, and the situation becomes even worse as Sara begins to explore her new home. She finds a trunk of his letters in the attic and begins to unravel the mystery of Seth’s life, and his unexplained disappearance.
After his efforts to drive her away fail, Seth tentatively forms a friendship with Sara and she begins to draw Seth out of his shell bit by bit. In her dreams they meet and gradually fall in love. As he learns to trust her, she learns to trust herself. Perhaps in helping him to heal from his wounds, she can heal her own heart as well.