Wednesday, September 3, 2014

BLOG TOUR: Ever Lost (Secret Affinity Book 2)" by Melissa MacVicar; Review/Excerpt


New town, new school, new ghost.

Jade has a dedicated boyfriend, an overprotective mom, and a full scholarship. Uprooted from Nantucket, Jade is installed off-island at her dad’s new house so she can attend snobby Layton Academy. Leaving Charlie behind is sheer torment, but living with her father has plenty of dangerous distraction—in the form of a terrifying spirit haunting her new school. Hottie classmate Mateo Fernandez can’t see the ghost, but he knows its story. He’d like to know hers, too, but Jade still misses Charlie, even though distance seems to be changing him.

With support from Mateo and the mysterious Noemie, Jade commits to helping the agonized spirit cross over. As she delves into the ghost’s past, the disturbing secrets Jade learns draw her into a deadly confrontation with a desperate man. If she can’t play his demented game, the spirit’s harrowing fate could become her own.


Chapter 1
The ghost hovers in the doorway, water dripping from his chin. The liquid hits the hardwood floor before evaporating in puffs of steam.
Not here. Please, not here.
He floats toward me, a sound like rubber boots trudging through liquefied mud accompanying him. The stench of standing water permeates the room.
I try to keep my face blank and my breathing controlled. All the other kids are watching the teacher except for one—the hot guy. He’s eyeing me, and he’s not trying to be subtle about it. Our desks form a cozy horseshoe in front of the SMART Board. There are only ten students in this class. In Nantucket, precalculus would have been twenty or more kids, but Layton Academy takes pride in its small class sizes. Unfortunately, their educational model isn’t going to work in
my favor when it comes to hiding whatever crazy ghost-capades Drippy Dude has in mind.
“You see me?” Drippy asks.
He knows. Ghosts always know what I can do. This one has managed to get into my line of sight, trying to make me meet his puffy, bruised-looking eyes. His lips are black, but his skin is pale. His clothes, a sodden T-shirt and jeans, are twisted around his body. Even as ugly as he looks, I can tell he died young.
I raise my hand.
“Yes, Jade?” Mrs. Gibson asks.
“May I go to the restroom?”
Two blond girls glance at each other and giggle.
“Yes. You don’t have to ask. Just go.”
I practically fall out of my chair then head for the door, knowing Drippy will follow. The hall has a thick Oriental runner that catches my sandals when I try to move too quickly. I turn into the bathroom and check the stalls. Empty.
I whisper to the ghost, “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you right now.”
“You have to tell them. Tell them what happened…” His eyes roll back in his head, and he opens his mouth as if gasping for air.
I wish I could tell him he’s already dead and that sucking wind isn’t going to do any good, but I don’t want to upset him any more than he already is. After being possessed last summer, I learned my lesson about that. “Please, just go away. I’ll try to help you but not now.”
My fists are clenched at my sides. I learned from Grandma Irving that I need to be strong, be in charge. Instead, I only feel scared and a little annoyed while I wait to see what happens.
After another minute or so of twisting around and puffing for air, the ghost gradually begins to disappear, making a production of it. Some ghosts vanish in the blink of an eye. Apparently, Drippy likes to prolong his visits. Once he’s completely gone, I turn to the sink and
splash cold water on my face.
I’m still pretty tan from the summer, and in the mirror, my hazel eyes look even greener because of it. My skeleton key charm hangs around my neck. I reach up and straighten the chain. A gift from Grandma Irving, the key with the wheel-shaped end is a symbol of my heritage and my ghosting abilities. Even though the charm has no real power, I always wear it. It belonged to Gram’s sister, Livvy, who died in a violent ghost encounter. I feel closer to Gram because I have
it, even though she’s miles away in Baltimore. On my dad’s side of the family, both Gram and Papa descended from slaves who were brought to the United States from West Africa. The Kongo region. Gram passed the ghost thing down to me.
I’ve straightened my hair, and I must say it came out really sleek and beautiful today.
Maybe that’s why Hottie-McHottie-Pants was staring at me. I dab at my mascara and eyeliner, which have run slightly, but otherwise, I’m satisfied with what I see. My green T-shirt and simple white skirt are helping me fit in here. I couldn’t believe it when my dad told me jeans
weren’t allowed at Layton. Seriously, I thought, what do these kids wear every day? Now that I’m here, I can see the answer. Only blue or ripped or faded jeans aren’t allowed. White, black, and colored jeans are okay as well as knee-length skirts or dresses for the girls. The boys have to wear nice pants and collared shirts.
When I get back to class, one of the snickering blondes is at the SMART Board doing a problem. Hot Stuff starts his staring again as soon as I sit down. I briefly meet his eyes, and he gives me one of those crooked-lip smiles that attractive boys use, knowing how swoon-worthy they are. This guy isn’t like the other boys I’ve seen at Layton, though. He’s tall and rugged, like.Charlie. God, I’m trying not to think about Charlie. I have my type—big, strong, and handsome—and Layton boys aren’t measuring up at all. The ones I’ve encountered all seem too
thin and underdeveloped, but not Hot Stuff. He’s different. Dark hair, dark eyes, dark skin—he’s obviously Hispanic and definitely my type. He almost looks too old to be in high school. My crazy imagination makes me wonder if he’s a narc planted by the police. That would be interesting.
With the ghost gone, I manage to focus on the teacher. She’s reviewing an algebra concept I learned last year—finding the nth term in a sequence. Getting into the problems is soothing. Figuring them out step by step, one number at a time, makes me think maybe I’ll make
it here. After my first block, in which the art history teacher, who looks almost young enough to be a student, lectured for an hour straight, I wasn’t so sure I could handle it.

There’s no bell to tell us when class is over. Bells must be a banal, public school thing. Instead, Mrs. Gibson tells us it’s time to go to the welcome-back assembly. All the students head for the door, but I’m not sure if I’m supposed to stay with this group or if I can just go on my
own. I don’t want to ask because the girls might laugh again. I had never heard of kids just being allowed to leave class without permission. I imagine what would happen if the kids at my school
in Nantucket could walk out of class whenever they wanted. Ha! That would be funny. Some would never come back.
“Basketball?” Hot Stuff asks, falling into step beside me. He’s wearing a red-and-white- striped polo shirt.
I keep walking, hoping I don’t get stuck sitting with him. I wrinkle my nose. “What?”
“You. Are you here to play basketball?”
“No. Why would you—” I stop midsentence when it hits me and turn to stare at him. “You did not just imply that I play basketball because…”
“You’re tall and black? Yeah, I guess I did.” He chuckles as if he isn’t being racist and just plain obnoxious.
“No. For your information, I haven’t played a sport since kinder-soccer. And I find your comment kind of offensive.”
“Take it easy. It was just a question. I’m here to play soccer. You know, we Latinos are really good at fĂștbol.” He exaggerates an accent on the last part.
We’re almost to the auditorium. I don’t want to get stuck beside this rude oaf of a boy even if he is the hottest one at Layton.
“I’m Mateo, by the way. Mateo Fernandez. Nice to meet you.” He tries to dazzle me with a brilliant smile.
I roll my eyes. “Jade Irving.”
“And just FYI, everyone has to play a sport here. Didn’t they tell you that?”
“Yeah. I know.” Not only did my mother send me to live with my father in a brand-new town, they both insisted that I attend this private school where I have to play sports.
We enter the auditorium, all new and carpeted with fancy flip-down seats. Teachers usher us along and direct us into rows. I realize I’m not going to be able to escape him.
As we settle into our seats, Mateo leans down to whisper in my ear. “You have really pretty eyes. We should hang out sometime.”
I flush with heat, shocked that he'd say this out of nowhere. Narrowing my really pretty eyes at him, I say, “No thanks. I have a boyfriend.”
“Here? Already?” He wrinkles his forehead.
“No. Back home.” Thinking about Charlie makes my stomach twist with homesickness.
“Where’s home?”
“You’re from Nantucket?”
“Yeah. Believe it or not, they let black people live there.” The assembly begins, so I lean over and whisper, “I live with my dad now. In Manchester.”
I quickly realize the proximity to him is a mistake because Mateo smells amazing—fragrant cologne and possibly some sort of manly body lotion. Plus, he’s now trying to look down the V neck of my top.
“Cool,” he mumbles, unable to lift his eyes from my cleavage.
I settle back in my seat and try to focus on the headmaster, Mr. Fraser. He’s saying something about it being Layton’s fiftieth year and incredible milestones and blah, blah, blah. I met the headmaster when I checked in at the office for my schedule this morning. He shook my hand and seemed very happy to meet me. His blond hair is receding and starting to gray, while his face is soft but not too wrinkled. On stage, he looks more formidable in his suit jacket.
After a few minutes, Mateo whispers, “Is he black?”
“What? Who?”
“Your boyfriend. Is he black?”
“What is it with you and color?”
“Well, is he?” He grins again. Truly, he’s a beauty of a boy.
“No. He’s white, if you must know. Now shh.”
He chuckles softly.
“What’s so funny about that?” I ask.
“Nothing. Nothing. I’m just glad. I don’t want to be messing with some homey’s girl. A white guy from Nantucket? I’m sure I can handle him.”
“You are so rude!” I hiss.
He shrugs and gives me a smirk. “Not really. Just honest.”
He shuts up, so I try again to listen to the speeches. But all I’m able to think about is Charlie.
Mom wouldn't let Charlie go off island to drop me off at Dad’s, so we had to say good- bye at the dock in Nantucket. Charlie dragged two of my suitcases, the two biggest ones, down the bumpy bricks of Straight Wharf and shoved them onto one of the luggage carts. I carried a couple of smaller bags that he helped me hoist up as well.
After he finished, he swept his hand across his damp forehead, looking back to see if Mom and my stepdad, Mike, were still inside getting our tickets. "Come on," he muttered. He took my hand and led me between two of the shack-like stores on the wharf. Boats, both big and small, sat safely in their slips, tied to blue pilings. The odor of fish from a nearby charter wafted on the air.
"This sucks so bad," he said. He pulled me into his arms.
I sagged against him. He placed his hand on the back of my head, his fingers tangling in my curls.
"I can't believe they won't back down. I just can't believe it," I mumbled against his shirt.
"I know. We'll be okay though. We'll call and text, and they'll have to let you come home at some point."
"But that school. School might be terrible."
"It'll be better than a public school. I'm sure it will be fine."
I knew Charlie well enough to get that he was just trying to make me feel better. He didn't really think it would be fine at all. He thought it was going to be awful, too. I fought back tears as I boarded the boat, waving to him and Mike and thinking about slugging my mother in
the face for putting me through that.
We stand to leave and go to lunch. I crane my neck to find Kira, my one and only friend at Layton. She’s more of a forced friend because her father is my dad’s boss at the Northwick Club. I’ve been foisted off onto Kira, but she doesn’t seem to mind too much. In fact, she’s been
nothing but helpful, so I shouldn’t complain. The problem is simply that Kira isn’t Ally. When you’ve had the same best friend since preschool, she’s kind of hard to replace.
"Who're you looking for?" Mateo asks.
“Kira. I’m supposed to eat lunch with her.”
“I’ll show you her table.”
Since I don’t see her, I decide to stay with Mateo. Walking into the cafeteria totally alone on my first day doesn’t appeal to me. We have to pass through the main building, which is a former mansion that was turned into a school for girls in the fifties or sixties. The school went
co-ed in the seventies and is now doling out the best education on the North Shore of Boston. Off three sides of the main building are wings that have been added on over time—a library out back that overlooks the pond, an auditorium to the right, and a gym and a cafeteria to the left. I think this place costs more to attend for a year than some colleges. Fortunately for my parents, I received a scholarship.
“I didn’t see you at preseason training,” Mateo says.
“I wasn’t here. I just got to my dad’s on Saturday. It was kind of a last-minute thing.”
“I take it you didn’t want to come to school here?”
“That would be an understatement. My life at home was finally getting good.”
“That sucks. Do your parents not approve of your boyfriend or something?”
“Something like that.”
The cafeteria is more like a family-style restaurant with all kinds of little buffets and homey-looking tables with flowers on them. Flowers! Unbelievable!
As soon as I walk in, I’m getting checked out. Both girls and guys alike are eyeing the new girl. Apparently, new juniors are not common at Layton, and seeing as there’s only about seventy kids in the whole class, with only two others—a boy and a girl—who are black, I’m even more of a strange sight. No wonder the headmaster was so happy to see me. I added to their cultural diversity quota.
The one other black girl is seated at a table with what appears to be two Hispanic girls, although one of them may be mixed like I am. The African American boy is a tall, skinny kid, and he’s sitting with tall, skinny white boys. I curse myself for immediately thinking they’re
basketball players. I guess I’m as bad as the rest of the world when it comes to stereotypes.
“There’s Kira,” Mateo says.
I turn and see her charging toward me. She eyes Mateo as if he’s about to throw me over his shoulder and run off with me.
“Have you no shame, Mateo?” she asks when she reaches us.
“None.” He grins. “Especially when it comes to pretty new girls.”
“Yeah, one who doesn’t know about you and your evil ways. Now shoo and leave her alone.” Kira waves her French-manicured nails at him as if he’s her butler. Then, she pulls me toward a table. “Okay. So thank God that’s over with. That assembly is more for the alumni and
parents than us.”
Judging from the other tables, I can tell Kira and her friends are one of the popular groups. Kira’s three friends are all watching me, so she does some quick introductions: Anna, Brittany, and Blair. Eek. I’ve fallen into a cheesy Lifetime prep school movie.
“So do you totally hate your mom?” Blair asks, licking yogurt off a spoon. She has a wide face and gigantic earrings. Kira must have filled her in on my situation.
“Yeah. Kind of.”
Brittany says, “I have a stepbrother. He’s in college, and he’s a total pain in the ass. I kind of hate him.”
Of course, Kira spilled the details. I wanted to keep the stepbrother thing under wraps. I guess that’s not happening.
“I have one of those stepbrothers too. His name is Brendan,” I inform her. “And Charlie and I liked each other before. It’s not our fault our parents fell in love.”
“Of course.”
A chorus of apologetic words and looks flow from the girls, except for Brittany. She doesn’t look very sorry at all.
“Well, don’t be too sad about what’s his name. I see you already have Mateo foaming at the mouth.” Brittany raises her perfectly plucked brows and purses her full lips. Soft brown curls hang around her shoulders—the kind she had to get up at five thirty to create before school.
I couldn’t fault her too much for that. I spent an hour straightening mine last night.
“Brit, stop,” Kira said. “She can’t help it if Teo’s like a dog in heat.”
Obviously, Brit was once a Mateo conquest. I don’t take the bait, though. Instead, I smile and pull out my lunch. I don’t plan on getting into a bitch fight on my first day, no matter how obnoxious Brittany is.
“Where do I buy a drink?” I ask Kira.
“Right over there.” She points at a cashier.
I attract a lot of looks while getting my vitamin water. Even the lunch lady, who’s also black, gives me the once-over before handing me my change. I’m relieved when I get back to my seat, where I settle in to listen to the chatter.
“He’s moodier than ever.”
“I heard it might be Helena. He always picks the prettiest senior.”
“It was one senior. One year. There is nothing always about it.”
“I wonder if she’d go for him…”
This conversation definitely sounds sketchy, but I decide to ask about it anyway. “Who are you talking about?”
Brittany answers, “Mr. Fraser. He teaches art history. Do you have him?”
“Well, watch out. Rumor has it he had an affair with a student last year.”
“They might still be together,” Anna says. “They can date now, right? Since she graduated?” Anna’s so petite she could pass for a twelve-year-old.
“Someone saw them this summer at Nick’s Roast Beef. Why would they go there when they’d definitely be seen?” Blair asks.
Kira rolls her eyes. “Just stop. They didn’t go to Nick’s. It’s all lies.”
“They definitely broke up,” Brittany says decisively. “Now that she’s at college, what would be the point? I’m sure she’s off breaking some poor professor’s heart at Middlebury now.”
“All these rumors and he’s still here?” I ask.
This kind of unfettered lechery on the part of a teacher seems strange, especially at a school like this. Teachers can’t just go around hooking up with students. They’re supposed to get fired for that sort thing.
“Yeah. Because he’s the headmaster’s son,” Anna says.
“Do you think he’s hot?” Blair asks me.
I try to remember what Mr. Fraser looks like, but all I can think about is how tired my hand is from taking notes in his class. “No. Not really,” I answer.
“Well, the new math teacher is definitely not hot and definitely not young,” Brittany says.
“Ugh! I heard,” Anna says. “He’s really strict, too.”
“I don’t have him. I have Mrs. Gibson,” I say.
“You are so lucky!” Blair tells me.
The girls continue to babble about which teachers they have, who likes who, who should like who, and a million other inane things. I want to ask about chorus, but trying to get a word in edgewise with this group is tricky. Before I get the chance, the sick, cold feeling of a ghost visit creeps up my spine. I was hoping Drippy was a stay-in-the-mansion kind of ghost, but apparently, that’s not the case. My ears buzz, and pins and needles shoot up my arms. Drippy is back.


In Ever Lost, the second book in Melissa MacVicar's Secret Affinity series, Jade Irving is forced to move away from her boyfriend Charlie and to an affluent suburb with her father. The only good thing about it is that the house isn't haunted.
At school, her "friends" are fake and a gorgeous boy, Mateo, seems to like her a little too much. But the crap hits the fan when the ghost of a recently deceased teacher starts haunting the school, amd she really thinks she might lose her mind!
But this ghost comes with dangerous baggage, and Jade may not be able to go it alone.

What would a novel mash up of Supernatural and Gossip Girl look like? Like Ever Lost! This YA series has the best of both worlds, romance and paranormal.
While less frightening than the previous installment, I actually liked this one better than Ever Near. Like one needs to break in new shoes, it seemed like Mrs. MacVicar needed to make herself more comfortable with her characters, and the growing confidence in them really shows here.
The new characters, from the mischievous Mateo, the eerie Noemie and the odiferous Mr. Fraser, are all enchanting and fully-formed.
What I loved most, however, was how real the situation Jade is in was. Take out the ghostly elements and you'd still have an amazing story here.
Mrs. MacVicar has a great future in the YA genre, and Red Adept Publishing has one Hell of a roster!


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