Title: The Gravedigger’s Brawl
Author: Abigail Roux
Length: 66k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal Horror Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Ghosts, Bartenders, Nerds/Geeks, History, Mystery, Scary!, The Occult
Rating: Really Liked It
When the past comes back to haunt you, order a double.
Dr. Wyatt Case is never happier than when he’s walking the halls of his history museum. Playing wingman for his best friend at Gravedigger’s Tavern throws him way out of his comfort zone, but not as much as the eccentric man behind the bar, Ash Lucroix.
Ash is everything Wyatt doesn’t understand: exuberant, quirky, and elbow deep in a Gaslight lifestyle that weaves history into everyday life. He coordinates his suspenders with his tongue rings. Within hours, Wyatt and Ash are hooked.
But strange things are afoot at Gravedigger’s, and after a knock to the head, Ash starts seeing things that can’t be explained by old appliances or faulty wiring. Soon everyone at Gravedigger’s is wondering if they’re seeing ghosts, or just going crazy. The answer to that question could end more than just Wyatt and Ash’s fragile relationship—it might also end their lives.
It’s been a while since I read anything by Abigail Roux, not having read any of her Cut & Run series yet (I know, I know!), so I was really excited to read The Gravedigger’s Brawl, especially since I heard it was rather scary. While I didn’t really find it that scary, there were a few moments, which made me quite happy. I decided a while ago that I’d rather not read anymore really sweet ghost stories. I don’t know why, but they just don’t do anything for me. If I read a story about ghosts, I want something scary. So, while I didn’t find myself wanting to turn on the lights while reading in bed at night, I did find it pleasantly spooky enough to be an exciting and engaging read. Much of that comes from the mystery portion, which I found rather interesting with the real tidbits of unique American history thrown in. But most of all, Abigail showed just how good of a suspense author she is.
Dr. Wyatt Case is the Director at the local History Museum and his job is on tenuous footing. The board is trying to push him out, using low ticket sales and interest as the reason, no matter their own choices to move forward with a renovation plan that only exacerbates the issues. After all, Wyatt is an easy scapegoat. More than just the possibility of losing his job though, Wyatt loves the museum. He’s a history geek through and through and not much is as important, until his best friend and co-worker brings him to Gravedigger’s, a local bar famous for their flair bartenders and spooky history. Ash Lucroix is great at spinning a bottle and he and Wyatt immediately hit it off, their eccentric personalities meshing well. But when Wyatt’s lack of confidence leads him to make a major faux pas, their relationship gets off to a shaky start, and might be finished entirely.
Meanwhile, they have some major problems on their hands. The workers at the bar are hearing and seeing strange things, but most of them are eager to dismiss them. When the forces at work start to target Ash, however, Wyatt’s disability to take anything on faith and his need for concrete evidence throws another wrench into their relationship, serving to drive them apart and drive Ash further down a depressing spiral and right into the hands of the malicious force.
I’m sure this isn’t news to most of you, but Abby Roux really is a fantastic author. Here, all the elements of the story are interwoven harmoniously, so that while I can pick out and pinpoint certain things that were really good (like the suspense, the history, and the characters), they don’t really stand out much because the whole story was wonderful. That’s the way it should be. Nothing really stood out to me as disruptive to the flow of the rest of the story and I don’t really have many criticism. The only thing that I could really say, is that I thought the final confrontation a little … well, cheesy. Maybe I’m alone in this. I purposefully haven’t read any reviews for this novel in months so that I’m not biased by anyone else’s feelings. But… I felt like this really great story that had me on the edge of my seat went a little … Halloween-y. Still, it was a minor thing and it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. And I could see where it might have been supposed to be a bit funny. The problem was that it made me bust out laughing and I’m not sure that’s the reaction I was supposed to have!
So if you haven’t read this yet, be assured that it’s another good book from Ms. Roux, and that it definitely isn’t a historical. I know I’m not the only one that thought it was at first You’ll enjoy it, and you’ll probably find it scary. Okay, I admit that there was one part that really got to me (do the words alley and keys make sense to anyone?). If you aren’t me, you might have a lower tolerance for scares and thrills, so I’ll just go right ahead and say it’s definitely got a scary element. Definitely recommended!