Haunted Ever After by Juliet Madison

In brief: Sally’s about to get married when a red headed ghost appears. Can she survive her hen’s weekend without everyone thinking she’s mad, or does the ghost have something important to tell her?

The good: Ty, the stripper, is a lovely hero. I also loved the reasons the ghost came into Sally’s life.

The not-so-good: No more Ty *sob*

Why I chose it: I really enjoy Juliet Madison’s ro-magic (magical realism) stories; thanks to Escape Publishing for the eARC.

Year: 2014

Pages: 204 (ARC)

Publisher: Escape Publishing

Setting: Australia

My rating: 9 out of 10

I always look forward to a new Juliet Madison novel. I know that I’m assured of a fun read that will also have moments that touch my soul. Her latest novel, Haunted Ever After, is no exception. I read the entire book in one setting and loved the mix of magical realism (the ghost of Red), sexy stripper with a heart (Ty) and a plot that combined the fun, crazy, spiritual and sweet.

If I’ve lost you at ghost, please come back. One of the things I love most about Juliet Madison’s stories is that the setting, characters and actions are all completely plausible – and then a twist that’s just a little bit out there, working magic into everyday life. It makes me think, ‘but what if…ghosts were real?’ and the types of ways they could affect our lies. I’m not much of a fantasy/sci-fi reader, but these types of stories let me indulge my spiritual side. Plus, if you bypass this book because of a ghost, Red’s going to come to haunt you. She’s not a vengeful ghost, but she wants Sally to listen to what she has to say before time runs out.

The book starts off as Sally’s organising her hen’s weekend (please don’t tell my engaged friends that hen’s days/nights are now weekends…I don’t think my liver and brain could take it). The girls meet at a house in a distant town and get ready to party. Although Sally doesn’t want to admit it, she’s got a problem. Recently, a ghost with red hair turned up and wants to talk to her. Sally’s a no-nonsense nurse, so of course she doesn’t believe in this – it’s time for a neurology appointment and a MRI. But after running over the stripper’s foot in the supermarket and Red the ghost trying to get her attention, Sally gives in. What Red has to tell her could affect her entire future. But Red also wants something in return – could throwing Ty (the stripper who is a genuinely caring guy) and Sally this way cause sparks to fly?

The story moves at a swift pace, but never to the detriment of the characters or their growth. There’s always plenty of time for humour (Red grinding up against Ty as he strips, invisible to everyone but Sally is a laugh-out-loud moment) and there are some very touching moments towards the end which goes to show that you really shouldn’t be afraid of ghosts – they can provide more reassurance than breathing people sometimes. Sally starts off as slightly brusque, believing she’s finally got her life in order, but as the story unfolds, we realise that she’s just as unsure as anyone else – and she has a soft, caring side. Ty…well, Ty was fantastic. He completely smashes the stereotype that strippers are all brawn and no heart – the guy is clever, caring and willing to take a risk or two, even if it does involve a ghost!

I thought Haunted Ever After was fantastic – it combines laughter with friendship and romance with the added touch of a lively ghost!

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