Book one in the Southern Spirits Series
Ezekiel Matthers and Brendon Shanahan are about to find out that sometimes all it takes is a subtle breeze to shift the winds of fate.
Ezekiel Matthers is a reclusive man, forcing himself into the exile of his ranch after a violent assault left him wounded. While the scars on the outside have faded, the damage inside is much harder to conquer. Zeke resigns himself to a solitary existence, aside from his sister Enessa and, of course, his mama’s occasional visits.
Brendon Shanahan has a very meddling cousin, Gloria, who is best buds with Enessa Matthers. When the two women convince Brendon that he should hook-up with the reclusive Zeke, a plan is hatched that sets a series of events into motion – with potentially deadly consequences.
Can Ezekiel conquer his fears and accept what Brendon is offering? Or will Brendon walk away, giving up on the love he has waited for? And will the visits from Zeke’s mama – deceased for four years now – help the two men find their way to each other?
I’m always hesitant to read paranormal books featuring ghosts because I find more often than not that I don’t care for the way in which they are portrayed by many authors. However, as I have read an increasing number of Bradford’s books, I was more than willing to give her Southern Spirits series a try as I enjoy the author’s writing style. It turns out that A Subtle Breeze was the perfect beginning to the newly revised and rereleased series and I absolutely loved the way the author crafted the contemporary M/M romance with touches of the paranormal.
Whether it be due to a lack of options or an intense physical attraction, there is a serious case of instant lust on Zeke’s part toward Brendon. On the other hand, Zeke’s sister and Brendon’s cousin have been feeding him stories and pictures about Zeke for a while now and Brendon has developed a healthy crush on the man – a crush that intensifies when they meet in person. Considering that it’s been four years since Zeke was last with a man, their rush to intimacy was not surprising. And it sure was hot! Also not surprising was Zeke’s meltdown when he learned that Brendon wasn’t in town for just a few days, but for the entire summer … and longer if it proved to be worth his while. While their relationship progressed pretty quickly, the combination of Zeke’s loneliness, his mother’s guiding spirit, and Brendon’s crush made it feel right for these two men. When trouble hits and Zeke is once again the target of bigotry, Brendon’s insistence on standing by his man merely cements the transition from lovers to more. As their relationship strengthens, the threats elevate until they find themselves in a life or death situation that left me freaking out at the incident while at the same time warmed by the response of the townspeople.
I really enjoyed the way in which Bradford used Zeke’s mom to guide him and Brendon toward one another and away from harm. Rather than making her a ghost that communicates vocally and/or can be seen visually, she is a spirit – like a breeze pushing at their backs or transmitting feelings (i.e., danger) rather than actual words. Her spirit was a guiding force rather than a full-fledged character and I really enjoyed that take on the afterlife. The bigotry and the quarter from which it came kept the conflict and tension high – almost too high – and provided the men a force against which they could unite. As this is the first installment in the series, there is a bit of world building as the reader is introduced to the town of McKinton, Texas and the characters important to this and the next few books, but not so much as to drag the story out unnecessarily. I thoroughly enjoyed A Subtle Breeze and am already looking forward to reading the next book in the series, When the Dead Speak, so I can find out what’s in store for Sheriff Stenley.