Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Everyone wishes they were dead when wandering the purgatory of a home furnishings store, but these guys actually are.
Benji Goss is the quintessential good guy. When his boyfriend dumps him and moves out, Benji obligingly keeps the cat—even though he’s allergic—because his ex’s new place doesn’t accept pets. He’s always joked the cat would be the death of him, but not in a way he expects when a feline mishap crushes him under a DEL TORO bookcase.
Snarky loner Patrick Bryant is in such a rut he barely remembers the life he used to lead. The last thing he recalls is being decapitated by a DEL TORO bookcase in a freak accident. As a spiritual CASA resident, he haunts the aisles of affordable Italian furniture, assisting fellow spirits in moving on to their final destinations.
When Benji appears in the CASA café, Patrick considers the naïve spirit just the man to cure his boredom. Benji’s relentless optimism chips away at Patrick’s sarcasm, making him question if there’s something beyond what he can see. But the heart is like CASA furniture—there’s always some assembly required.
Review: It’s not everyday I read about a ghost love story set in a store something like IKEA. Or I think it’s meant to be IKEA-like?! Yes, the MCs are deceased and in purgatory. In this book IKEA is CASA and it’s a purgatory for all the dead people whose lives were ended too soon thanks to mishaps with random items purchased in the store. For whatever reason they pop in the store to save some poor unsuspecting living customer from repeating their demise. Our MCs help them out with this and then they’re able to move on to whatever comes next for them in the after life. I’ll admit it took quite a while to grasp all the specifics in the book thanks to Patrick being less than forthcoming with information. He talks in sass and riddles. There’s a bunch of details doled out throughout the book so just roll with it if you feel like you’re missing something. It all comes together eventually.
Patrick is a tough character to nail down. He’s in Purgatory kind of by choice. He’s also really good at his job of saving lives and ushering the recently deceased to the next plain. Patrick fell in love with one of his fellow spirits who moved on and broke his heart. This leaves him hardened to the possibility of love. He immediately feels hope and attraction to Benji but soon after he remembers that everyone but him, Karin and Agnus, his co-workers, eventually move on. His fear of becoming attached to Benji and feeling that heartbreak again makes him push Benji away.
Poor Benji is doing his best to accept his death. Being stuck in CASA is very confusing. He learns the way things usually work there but he’s not the usual spirit. Something is keeping him there. Time flows differently in purgatory. He can’t remember his death. Patrick is constantly messing with his head. Flirting one minute and pushing him away the next. They form a friendship but it’s obvious they both want more. Benji goes about wooing his possible new ghost boyfriend under the limitations they have. This part was pretty funny. I liked how Benji finally flips the script on Patrick giving him a dose of his own medicine. Patrick is frustrating to say the least. He’s likable but he’s obviously not showing you all of him. He deflects with jokes or innuendos meant to embarrass. He’s completely happy to avoid his own reality and focus on everyone else.
I liked this book. The title certainly fits the story. It took me a little longer than normal to get into it. Being one of the few people who have never stepped foot in an IKEA means a lot of the references to it were probably lost on me. There were only a few characters and I liked them all. I felt like I really understood how Benji was feeling in the first half of this book. He and I learned new things with every experience he had. It takes a while to understand what exactly is going on in the store beyond all that glorious weirdness these author’s have given us. The last half of this book was really good. Everything kind of comes together. You start to understand what role they’re all playing in the grand scheme and why Benji and Patrick are fated to be stuck there at the same time. Initially Patrick thinks he’s the one who is taking Benji under his wing when really it’s Benji who is saving Patrick. In the end the love story was beautiful. The journey is a little odd and frustrating but unique and well worth the read. I’d recommend this if quirky romances are something you enjoy. I certainly did.