Sara Wise has spent her life in the company of unseen ghosts. The voices usually want her to carry some last message - she's learned the hard way to promise but not deliver - and then they go away. For two months now though, she's had an incorporeal visitor that can't or won't leave. Instead of asking her to give some, "I'm in a better place," or "the second will is under the doormat," message to a surviving loved one, he's been hanging around chatting during the day and at night stealing into her dreams and making passionate love to her.
Natan de Manua - Nathan - is seeking redemption for something he thinks he did more than five hundred years earlier. He'd been suffering in tormented limbo until he was offered the chance to watch over Sara although he doesn't know what he's supposed to do or when. He always assumed he'd stay incorporeal but the more he's with Sara, touching her in her dreams and being part of her life, the stronger he becomes until he's able to assume a solid form again. The happiness that he and Sara find with each other feels fragile though because both know that if he's been allowed to become corporeal, chances are it's because the danger he's been sent to protect her from is near and when his job is done, he'll be gone.
While this is obviously a contemporary romance, it has a love-through-the-ages theme that reminded me of some of the romance novels that got me obsessed with the genre when I was a lot younger. There are almost two stories book-ending a tragedy - Sara and Nathan's sweet, passionate and happy romance and the event that led him to her then the aftermath. There's a paranormal suspense story throughout the majority of the book, enough to keep the lovers on edge and just enough to add some darkness to the story.
There was an interesting little segment in the story away from Nathan and Sara's romance that was a combination of a wink-wink and maybe a little side-eye at the business of romance publishing. As a reader, I have zero idea about what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to getting something published, but the thrust of the scene is that in some eyes, it's best that authors find a genre, develop a brand and not vary from it or they won't find an audience (or get published). There's a lot more in the section, but I think there's probably more than a little truth about the branding issue, since rather than using their own names when they switch genres to write, many authors use pen names. The entire passage is handled with some humor and exasperation and gave me an appreciation for what I'm assuming is some of the minutia authors go through.
One of the things I love best about reading Julia's books is that when I finish I always feel like she's given me an honest piece of herself in the story somewhere, whether it's an experience, an opinion or an emotion and it makes me feel more connected to the story. I was with Nathan and Sara from the beginning, hoping that they'd find a way to be together, despairing right along with them when it looked like hope was lost. I had a soggy handful of tissues by the last few chapters and even though I knew a happily ever after had to come for Sara, the one that was delivered was especially right, especially sweet and impossibly romantic.