Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Gideon Jane earned the name Ghost for his reclusive nature when he joined a group of guys in Powers, Georgia in a band called Executioners. It had been his way of settling into small town life after living in New York for the past twenty years. He loved the band and his small organic farm. What he didn’t love was being single, but it appeared it was his new reality. He didn’t want his ex back, although he did want something. What that was eluded him until the evening he walked into Nightingale’s Books.
Small town girl Harper Sage knew pain, and she’d lived with it—she had the scars both mental and physical to prove it. It would’ve been easier to hop in her car to find safety and anonymity, but Harper stayed to prove she was stronger than hurled fists and bruising prejudice. She found herself within the safety of a close-knit group of rough bikers and bar bouncers. That didn’t mean it was all perfect.
What’s a girl to do when she craves normalcy and acceptance: she just smiles. Choices are made, some with dire consequences and others that bring her closer to her dream. Will she make the right decision or finally discover escape is her best option?
Author Note: This book contains scenes of violence and descriptions of self-harm.
I was wavering about reading this story as I have a huge stack of books to read but something about that cover and synopsis reached out to me. That and the fact that the times we live in has made it so important that people in the LGBTQIA spectrum be made to feel loved and normal and as part of society as everyone else. Ghost helps highlight the lives that many have been made to live as it has a main character who has been marginalized and abused for most of her life.
So I picked this up and dived into a world of pain, self abuse, recovery and love. It’s a remarkable story, full of characters that have such staying power that I’m still mulling over how to write this review even now. Told from Gideon’s (aka Ghost) and Harper’s perspective, an emotionally gripping, deeply moving story unfolds. From Harper, we see her pain, her self-harm, her journey from boy to woman and the trauma inflicted by others on her for that choice. This story does contain graphic descriptions of violence as Harper chose to inflict harm on herself through bad choices in men, one horror of a man in particular. The scenes are vivid and carry a huge emotional impact. If this is a trigger for you be warned. We are there inside Harper’s heart and mind, we feel how little she believes she deserves in life and how far to the ground her self esteem has fallen. Prepare for your own heart to be as bruised and broken as Harper.
Then there’s Gideon Jane, known as Ghost because his presence around town is so fleeting. He’s moved to this small town needing peace, quiet, friends and a new start after a long-term relationship destructed. Gideon is beautiful and layered, moving solidly and quietly into Harper’s life like a balm, a wonderful large, perhaps chubby (his ex’s words) rock of a man. He recognizes how wounded she is and how slowly he has to move, winning her trust inch by inch. It’s done through communication and by actions, the reader falling in love with Gideon along with Harper.
J.M. Dabney has also chosen to have Harper not undergo gender reassignment surgery and Harper talks/muses about her emotional choice to live with body dysmorphic disorder and what it’s cost her. Everything about this aspect of the story is handled realistically and with extreme sensitivity. The scars that line Harper’s body are extensive. How she views her body image and how that changes over the course of the story will bring tears to your eyes.
There is so many layers here. The romance between Gideon and Harper is tender and slow moving as it should be. There is the element of her abusive ex who is still around. Plus Dabney gives us a town of amazing characters whose stories we need to be told. I hope that Joker’s story will be the second to arrive in this series. As a character who pulled on my heart he was on a level with Harper with his angst and trauma filled past history.
The only reason Ghost did not reach a full 5 star rating is that I felt it wrapped up too quickly for everything that had gone on before. Had the author spread out the ending as she had the rest of the story, this novel would have reached perfection. As it was it came amazingly close.
Ghost (Executioners #1) by JM Dabney is a deeply moving love story. Its contemporary in it’s subject and timing. But timeless in its message and beauty. I highly recommend it but please heed the warnings.
Cover Design: Winterheart Design. I love this cover. It’s a perfect representation of Gideon and the story. Perfection!
Kindle Edition, 157 pages
Published July 18th 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC
SeriesExecutioners #1 settingGeorgia (United States)