When I was a law student, I learned that sometimes you have to go beyond what’s written in the law (“la lettre”, the letter) to what was meant, the intent (“l’esprit”, the spirit). That’s what came to mind when I opened this book, not having read the blurb – I often skip blurbs with certain authors. I was, therefore, slightly surprised to realise the spirit here refers to the paranormal kind.
Owen Lassiter had a perfect conviction record until a jury decided what should have been an open-and-shut case wasn’t as strong as she thought. To make matters worse, the beautiful juror she couldn’t help but notice is the one who derailed her plans. Summer Byrne has a gift she sometimes wishes she could ignore. Dead people talk to her and she can, in the right circumstances, read minds. It’s exhausting and the responsibility that comes with it is overwhelming. Yet when, in a dream, she sees a man getting strangled, she informs the police. The next day, Owen, the gorgeous prosecutor she crossed when she was on jury duty, turns up at the house she shares with her daughter and her grandmother.
The focus of the story is on the case or, more precisely, on Summer’s gift and Owen’s journey to stop rolling her eyes and to accept the impossible. It’s not that the romance is in the background, it’s that it’s so inextricably tied up with every other interaction between the two women that there’s not a lot of flirting or anything. It just happens, in a rather organic way. From time to time, Owen shows a more private side of herself, adorably cocky, and I wish we’d had more of that. She seems to have a pretty mischievous grin Summer can’t resist. The chemistry between them isn’t in the forefront but it’s completely believable, and I like that it’s almost a given. It just is, and it brings tiny but sweet moments, like how well Owen fits in with Summer’s family even before anything happens between them.
Finding a balance between the legal proceedings and the romance isn’t easy, and in the end, I wish there had been a little more of both.
I’ve written a few times how much I love Carsen Taite’s books when they’re about lawyers and judges and prosecutors and the law. This one checks all these boxes with the added and, as I wrote above, unexpected bonus of “a little dose of the unworldly”, as the author writes in the acknowledgements. I wasn’t convinced it would work at first, but it did, totally.