A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

TBR Challenge: Ghost of the Past by Sally Wentworth

on January 20, 2021

CW: slut-shaming, violence against women

The theme: A comfort read

Why this one: What, you’re not comforted by bananapants drama about nasty men and the women who love them anyway? How about very short books?

Ghost of the Past may be the winner of the Wackiest Sentence Ever Uttered in a Romance award. We’re only a few pages in and our hero Alex has just slapped our heroine Ginny:

Then he stood back, his body shaking, his hands clenched tightly, fighting for control. ‘Dear God! The first time I’ve ever hit a woman and it has to be a little slut like you.’

All I can think is, “what nice, pure woman were you saving it for, then?”

Alex is a typical sexist, unreasonably jealous HP hero but interestingly enough, if this story was an “Am I the Asshole Post” it would probably be voted ESH — everybody sucks here. The ways in which the two primary women in his life messed with him and each other is laughably awful. Yet oddly enough, the actual story is fairly down-to-earth — the wackery is largely in the past.

Summing up, both Ginny and her identical twin sister Venetia fell in love with Alex, and literally tossed a coin to see who could have him. Ginny lost, and left to become a well known model. When the story begins, Venetia has died and left her home to Ginny, which brings her back into Alex’s sphere. She still loves him, and he has feelings for her as well… but how can you manage a relationship with someone who was in love with someone exactly like you?

This is not a good twin//bad twin story, which was a little disappointing at first. Ginny and Venetia were very close and had that mystical “twin bond” writers adore. A man came between them, but never destroyed that bond. I wound up liking that choice, despite my love of a juicy good sister/bad sister story. Ginny isn’t going to win Alex’s love just because Venetia was really a bad person.

But Wentworth set herself quite a challenge here, and I’m not sure she met it. The fact that Ginny and Venetia were constantly Patty Duke-ing Alex in the past makes his claim that he always loved Ginny too seem pretty weak. How do Alex and Ginny get past their issues? By literally duking it out. They have a drag out fight, which of course turns into sex, and… that’s it. Problems solved.

And there’s very little compensation for all Alex put Ginny through, and how much she had to be the one in pursuit, dealing with his ever-mixing emotions. Overall, a letdown in the catharsis department.

6 responses to “TBR Challenge: Ghost of the Past by Sally Wentworth

  1. […] TBR Challenge: Ghost of the Past by Sally Wentworth Jan […]

  2. Dorine says:

    It does sound like it could be an intriguing story. Thanks for the warnings! I really like that title.

  3. KeiraSoleore says:

    EEK! That slap would’ve been a bit of a “do I continue” moment for me. I dealt with it OK in the JoBev book because it comes at the end when the characters and their relationship is very well organized. In this book, it seems to come towards the beginning.

    I am quite intrigued that the author takes the harder, more thoughtful approach by having the twins be identical and very close to each other despite both loving the same man. I cannot imagine how the hero shows Ginny that he is not projecting his love for Venetia on to her because of her looks. I am glad the author does not take the cliched role of bad/good twin.

    • willaful says:

      I don’t think she does. She compresses the issue into one symptom — hero is impotent — so solving that stands in for solving everything. Oh, also he always loved them both — even though he couldn’t tell them apart.

  4. OMG! Assessing a romance as to its AITA levels is genius!!!

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