I bought this book on the strength of some good reviews and having enjoyed previous Kerstan books. The ghost angle made me a bit leery of the book, because I generally don't like romances with ghosts in them and usually find them to be pretty melodramatic. However, this was a notable exception. The aspect of "time-travel" added history and humor to the plot, which made it more than just a "ghost story." The plot is like "It's a Wonderful Life," only in reverse. Instead of finding out how bad life would have been for others if the hero hadn't been born, this hero, Valerian, finds out how terrible he has made life for people by the bad deeds he did when he was alive and that people would have been better off if he had never been born. In that sense it is more like Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." The hero was killed in a duel by a the husband of his lover, and his descendants and those of the jealous husband have suffered for 100 years because of the ensuing feud. For some reason(rather nebulous), Valerian is allowed a month to come back from the netherworld to try to end the feud, and bring contentment to three people--Max and Gwen(the heroine) who are related to the man he shot in the duel, and Dorrie, one of his own future descendants. How he manages to meet the challenges of this task is very cleverly planned out and penned by the two authors of this book. The suspense of how the hero would be able to restore peace makes the book a page-turner. The secondary romance between Max and Dorrie is very sweet. I did feel that the primary romance between Gwen and Valerian sometimes took a back-seat to the plot of reconcilation, and it wasn't really all that clear what Gwen, a virtuous woman, saw in Valerian, such a rake. Still, the "reforming" of Valerian was handled very well, as the reader gets to see him turn from a self-centered, pleasure-driven man, to a man who learns to care about others and even put their needs first. It was done gradually enough and with sensitivity enough to be believable. And, at the end, Valerian recognizes that he still has "rakish" tendencies that he will have to fight in order to stay true to Gwen and to live a better life, which also was realistic.
This book is clever, entertaining, and touching.