Book Review: Unexpected Gifts

Unexpected Gifts is a very enjoyable short story that packs a lot into its novella-length pages. Billed as a ‘paranormal romance’ I was intrigued when I first read Amy’s summary … and in all honesty I enjoyed it more than I expected.

romance | paranormal


Rating: 4 out of 5.

the blurb

Newly minted middle-school principal Charlene Klosterman falls hard and fast for the father of a
student, Leo Ball, who speaks to ghosts. Sparks (and snowflakes) fly between the principal and
handsome single dad Jeremiah Ball, as they join forces to help Leo appease the noisy Mistress
Calypso—a ghost with an unusual demand.

Unexpected Gifts by Amy Bernstein

Author Amy Bernstein | Published by BooksToGoNow on 17th November 2020 | 24 Pages (kindle)

I would like to thank Amy for providing me with a complimentary copy of Unexpected Gifts in return for an honest review.

my thoughts

This novella is the perfect length to read over a tea or coffee during your work break … or perhaps on your commute.  It’s a lovely moment of escapism which, let’s be honest, we could all do with this year!

The book’s main character is a spunky, sassy, headmistress called Charlene Klosterman – or Charlie, to her friends.  She’s not even had a moment to settle into her office on her first day in a new school when the father of one of her pupils bursts into the room, agitated about his son.  Once Charlie gets over her immediate attraction to this man, she settles him enough to learn that his son, Leo, believes he can see and speak to ghosts. Both Charlie and Jeremiah (Leo’s father) are lonely hearts, and a mutual attraction blossoms over the course of the book.  

Meanwhile, poor Leo is being haunted by the ghost of Mistress Calypso … even during classes it’s clear he’s listening to her ghostly whispers rather than to his teachers.  Instead of brushing this off as so many other teachers have done, Charlie takes Jeremiah and Leo’s story seriously, spending an evening on Google to try and find out more about this restless soul.  When her fact-finding matches what Leo’s been trying so hard to tell them, the three of them embark on a mission to grant Mistress Calypso the peace she longs for.

I found myself caught up in the story very quickly, mainly through the very likeable character that’s been created for Charlie … it’s been a while since I was at school, and I know head teachers have changed since my days, but I think every reader will agree Charlie would have been a fabulous head for their school.  The author has written a very strong, engaging leading lady and I would happily have read a full-length version of this story with Charlie at its helm.  Jeremiah comes across as a little more mysterious, yet his response to his son’s news is impossible not to react to with a little bit of a swoon!  

All in all, I would sum this well-written short story up as eminently readable.  My only grumble would be that it was over too soon, and there were a few threads of intrigue at the very start which I think could have been woven into the fabric of this novella for extra depth.

Unexpected Gifts by Amy Bernstein

The Deception of Harriet Fleet is available now from Amazon.


author bio

Amy Bernstein writes for the page, the stage, and forms in between. If you want to spend time with a highly unconventional mermaid who’s in deep trouble then meet ELL in June 2021. Looking for a middle grades novel about a teen coping with tragedy? That’s FRAN, THE SECOND TIME AROUND. Sample Amy’s work, and read her blogs, on her website, and on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


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