I’ve just finished reading Once Upon a Moonlit Path by Ava Stone. The story is a paranormal Regency romance, so get ready for some ghostly encounters!
On the whole, I enjoyed the story. The attraction between Cassandra (Cassy) and Jack is believable and fiery! Cassy’s little brother, Toby, humanizes Jack and provides us the opportunity to see the rake in a more caring role (never a bad thing!)
The story is set in a haunted castle with the reading of a will as the motivation that throws our characters together. We learn quickly that Jack has had his eye on Cassy for quite a while. The lead up makes it easy to believe his attraction to her, but her own attraction to him seems a bit more tenuous.
In keeping with the paranormal tag, ghostly hijinks ensue and between assignations around the castle, Cassy sees ghosts walking the halls of the house. Eventually, after facing down ghosts and unromantic parents, Cassy and Jack get their happily ever after.
In terms of romance, I found this book pretty satisfying. The romance was hot and the story moved at an appropriate pace. The paranormal tag seems a bit more of a stretch to me. There’s not nearly enough backstory for me to understand Cassy’s history of seeing ghosts and instead it comes off as a gimmicky way for Cassy to be seen as an ostracized member of the assembled characters.
Speaking of assembled characters, the book at times reads like a biographical listing. The characters and tangential side characters get an inordinate amount of screen time, perhaps appropriate given that this is the first of the series. I would have liked to have seen some paring down of characters. By the time the parents arrived on the scene, I had forgotten that I already knew them! A most disconcerting experience, indeed.
In addition, there’s a whole secondary plot point with gypsies that seems rushed and unnecessary.
You will enjoy this book if you are here for the romance and the romance alone. Do not expect this to be a larger paranormal adventure. Other than a few ghostly sightings, there’s no exploration of the implications of Cassy’s ability to see ghosts or any sign that these ghosts and her ability exist outside of their function as a plot point.
You will not enjoy this book if you’re looking for a paranormal/gothic novel. You just won’t. I think that labeling this story as a paranormal romance might be a bit of an overstatement.
It’s a quick read and low commitment. I most likely will not continuing reading the rest of the series. It’s well written and fine for a slow afternoon at work.
I was provided a copy of the book by the publisher through NetGalley. This was done in exchange for an unbiased review posted to Amazon and my personal blog.