Book Review by Gillian: Stumptown Spirits by E.J. Russell

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Stumptown Spirits, by E.J. Russell
Book One in the Legend Tripping Universe
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: May 16, 2016

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


What price would you pay to rescue a friend from hell?

For Logan Conner, the answer is almost anything. Guilt-ridden over trapping his college roommate in a ghost war rooted in Portland’s pioneer past, Logan has spent years searching for a solution. Then his new boyfriend, folklorist Riley Morrel, inadvertently gives him the key. Determined to pay his debt—and keep Riley safe—Logan abandons Riley and returns to Portland, prepared to give up his freedom and his future to make things right.

Crushed by Logan’s betrayal, Riley drops out of school and takes a job on a lackluster paranormal investigation show. When the crew arrives in Portland to film an episode about a local legend of feuding ghosts, he stumbles across Logan working at a local bar, and learns the truth about Logan’s plan.

Their destinies once more intertwined, the two men attempt to reforge their relationship while dodging a narcissistic TV personality, a craven ex-ghost, and a curmudgeonly bar owner with a hidden agenda. But Logan’s date with destiny is looming, and his life might not be the only one at stake.


M/M Pairing
Gay Characters


While I thought the premise of this story was quite good, the execution and the editing left a little bit to be desired. The MC’s are likable enough, as are the side characters, but the writing lacked the style and tension needed to make this ghost story truly entertaining.

Logan, the anti-hero with a heart of gold, is looking for the key to rescuing Trent, an old boyfriend who has been inadvertently trapped in a ghost war that plays out every 7 years.  After spending years relentlessly chasing dead ends, he meets folklore researcher Riley and realizes that Riley’s expertise might be the answer to his problem. When his attraction to Riley becomes more than the one-night stand he intended, his focus shifts and Logan all but abandons his search to rescue Trent from his ghostly hell, setting up a home with Riley intent on taking their relationship to the next level.  But when Riley unknowingly provides Logan with the answer to saving Trent, Logan leaves town without a word, leaving Riley lost, abandoned and with absolutely no idea why Logan has gone. When Riley’s job finds him and Logan in the same city again, he is torn between the desire see Riley again and enlist his help or to send him away and save him from the same fate as Trent.

I really liked Logan and Riley (and Riley’s speech impediment that only becomes obvious when he’s stressed or emotional – adorable!). But the pull-you-closer-push-you-away dance between the two of them was annoying and somewhat cloying. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done in a million romance novels before this and it didn’t really have anything new to say about it. The ghost story itself was interesting and if the author could have dialed up the tension a bit, it might have been a decent little thriller. I did enjoy the side characters and I thought that Riley’s job as a runner/researcher for a paranormal investigation TV show was a nice touch because it allowed for the introduction of Max Stone, the wonderfully insensitive and boneheaded host of the show. That guys needs a spin-off!

All in all, I found this an okay-ish book but I really wish it could have lived up to the promise of it’s premise. Unfortunately, it’s a little slow and didn’t really capture my attention.


E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.

E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Connect with E.J.:

Pre-order Stumptown Spirits from:

Riptide Publishing

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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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