Love Is The Bridge by Denise Weeks

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    Love Is The Brige is very atmospheric, with a complex storyline, lively dialogue, and likeable, believable characters.

    “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love.”–Thornton Wilder

    Anyone who uses a computer is vulnerable to cyber-attack through a cell phone, Facebook page, e-mail account, or even files that might be accessed by a remote system while connected to the Internet. But who thinks it will happen to them?

    Paige Campbell had never considered that she had anything to worry about until she got the first crank call. By the time her Facebook page is hacked and one of her files changed so that she is suspended from college and accused of plagiarism, she’s beginning to believe that someone–or something–is out to get her. Not a person or corporation, though, because it seems able to do things that are possible only for a magician . . . or a ghost. Can there actually be a “ghost in the machine”?

    Alan McConnell doesn’t believe in ghosts and thinks it’s outlandish to claim that his prototypical AI test system (for writing advertising jingles) has become the portal by which a ghost (or at least a paranormal entity, perhaps a demon, which he also doesn’t believe in) has entered our material plane.

    But after his system does several strange things and can’t be turned off, he concludes that there is something behind this “haunting” complained about by his client Paige Campbell. Although he can’t see how it’s the spirit of someone spurned by Jenny Lind (the Swedish Nightingale of the P. T. Barnum era) who insists Paige is actually Jenny and who has come back for her to “remove the curse,” he determines to help her.

    They run headlong into the murk of a paranormal entity (a ghost, even though he’s not a believer) that has mistaken Paige for someone else but is determined to haunt her until she “undoes” the curse it believes she has set on it and declares her love.

    Paige and Alan’s mutual attraction proves to be an inconvenience they can’t ignore. But before they can do anything else, they must break the hold that the entity has gained over them without resorting to doing something evil themselves-­-thereby becoming as wicked as the entity.

    Review by Voracious Reader:

    This is a fascinating story, a totally new take on the stalker-ghost-romance ideas. Just how safe are we in cyberspace? Is code all that exists in cyberspace? Paige and Alan are totally believable people caught up in a web of unbelievable events that actually do happen.

    While the circumstances gave me the creeps the resolution was both believable and satisfying and the romance real and touching. Can you tell I really liked this book? Though it did make me look at the net differently… what is really out there?

    A highly recommended read.

    Review by Pandora Tiberdex;

    Very atmospheric, with a complex storyline, lively dialogue, and likeable, believable characters. Many of the passages or snippets of quotations made me think, because they had a subtext of philosophy, and many spots made me laugh out loud, even though the characters were in peril. A just plain good story. Recommended.

    This is indeed a ghost story, but is at the same time a romantic suspense and a book that contains a lot of neat techie stuff. I can see how people who read any of those three genres might enjoy it. And it’s so well written (I so seldom find cadenced prose that has fresh turns of phrase and is a joy to run your gaze across) that it’s worth giving this book a try, even if you have your doubts after reading the somewhat vague posted plot summary. I don’t like to make my reviews into plot summaries, but I can give a high-level tagline.

    Tagline/summary: Something is out to get Paige Campbell . . . something not of this world. She was happy just working for her Uncle Hans at his music store, taking classes at Dallas Music Academy, and taking gigs playing piano and singing at weddings whenever the opportunity arises. She never dreamed that getting one crank phone call could lead to a nightmare. Alan McConnell hires Paige to sing radio jingles for his advertising agency, and steps directly into her dream. Can they make this into a lucid dream and control the outcome so that they both survive with their careers intact?

    Some books like this make you uncomfortable because there are too many characters, most of whom are sinister and creepy. That doesn’t happen here. The budding romance and constant attraction (sexual tension) between not only the main characters Alan and Paige but also (near story’s end) between their two respective best friends keeps the tone enjoyable, because you want these two to overcome their differences and get together. They’re so well matched. And their banter is never that empty sort of stuff that doesn’t reveal character or move the plot along. It’s often funny and hits the nail on the head.

    The techie/ghost story plot is well paced, each scene dropping at least a couple of teasers or clues so as to keep the reader constantly guessing, and containing a number of eerie events to keep the reader freaked out. The author gets the techie stuff right (so far as I can tell, because I’m not an expert) and puts in just enough so that people who love the details can get the idea. No infodumps and no flashbacks–the story moves forward constantly.

    It was fun to guess at what was really going on, because I wasn’t sure who to believe. We get Alan’s point of view and then Paige’s point of view in alternating scenes. This gives a better picture of what might really be happening so that readers have at least a chance of guessing at the big reveal. Which itself admittedly is a little bit woo-woo, but hey, it’s been perfectly set up and hinted at all along, and skeptics can still fall back on the rational explanations that they’ve been trying to use to explain away the scary bits.

    I don’t mean that there is an overly complex twists-and-turns plot, the kind I can barely keep up with, even with a scorecard. This book kicks off with an inciting event that then expands, and everything is related to it, and the characters investigate this event and the ensuing related events and their repercussions. (Dang, it’s tough to do this without spoilers!) You get enough of the characters’ daily lives so that you know what is at stake should those careers be lost because of the problem, but it’s just enough to satisfy your curiosity and draw them perfectly on the page. The story is engaging, charming, and engrossing.

    Also, there used to be a taboo against having your book’s main character be a singer, actor, or in any type of show business. That taboo is finally gone. I love these sorts of books because I think that if I could sing, I would be extremely obnoxious and always trying to make a record. I can live it vicariously through books with show business characters. (Well, radio jingles and that sort of advertising sort of counts as show business, and so does local performing.) Now I can find books about the stage and that have show business as part of the plot, and it’s great.

    Author gets many Princess Points for knowing how to use big words correctly. You wouldn’t believe how many books have a wrong word in place of what should obviously be “presumptuous.” “Gobsmacked” wins my vote for best new word. (Apparently it’s an old Briticism, but you don’t hear it much around these parts, pardner.) “Predominant,” “preposterous,” “rudimentary,” and “axiomatic” come out of the Mensa genius at appropriate times. (He is also dinged at times by other characters who want him to come down to consumer level, so it’s not a case of a haughty character using ten-dollar words

    The meaning is obvious from the context.) The other characters’ vocabulary is appropriate to the way they’ve been drawn. So, ten Princess Points for use of correct words and ten more for using them only out of the mouth of the guy who’s supposed to be a Mensan in intelligence. When we’re having someone else talk who has a different intellectual slant, we don’t hear these ten-dollar words. Proper diction reveals a lot about the characters. And there’s no use of the F-bomb, though there might be some mild profanity–I can’t remember, so it couldn’t have been much or very bad.

    One nitpick: is it spring or fall? There is mention of a nip in the air and of October being on the doorstep, but the characters also go to a swimming hole to splash at one point. It doesn’t really matter to the plot, but I always like to be told *when* things are going on. I did get a very clear picture of the Dallas suburban setting, at least of the restaurants that the characters frequented.