Guest Post from Author Meg Benjamin on Scary Stories + Giveaway

happy medium by meg benjaminToday, my guest is Meg Benjamin, the author of the Ramos Family/Medium trilogy. Whatever you call the series, the books in that series (Medium Well, Medium Rare and the subject of today’s review, Happy Medium) are chillingly delicious paranormal romances.

But Meg’s post today is all about why she chose to take this walk on the spooky side.

Happy Medium: Bringing the Scary
by Meg Benjamin

I’m a newbie in the paranormal romance game. Paranormal romances work with a different set of emotions from, say, contemporary romance (where I’ve hung out up until now). Vampires can be scary but also very sexy. Werewolves can evoke that primal dread of being attacked by an animal. Zombies don’t do much for me in the romance department, but they’re really good at evoking horror. The same is true for the wide range of other paranormals, from Eve Silver’s Egyptian demi-gods to Laurell K. Hamilton’s fairy kingdom.

And then there are ghosts. For me, ghosts have a pretty straight-forward effect. They’re all about fear. If you think about classic ghost stories, the old-dark-house-in-a-thunderstorm type, it’s all about what happens on the periphery. The feeling of being watched, of sharing space with something or someone you can’t really see. Until, of course, you turn the corner and…gotcha!

I’ve always been fascinated by ghost stories, and I toyed with the idea of doing one of my own for a long time before I finally got around to it with my Ramos Family Trilogy for Berkley Intermix (the third book in the trilogy, Happy Medium, is now available). It may seem strange to go from writing about romance in the Texas Hill Country (as I did in my Konigsburg series for Samhain Publishing) to writing about haunted houses in San Antonio, but it’s not really that much of a stretch. I love ghost stories, particularly ghost stories that aren’t entirely serious. Even my contemporaries had a touch of threat (I love my villains) and that threat becomes simultaneously scarier and more elusive in ghost stories. Like I said, it’s all about the unknown.

My setting is the King William District of San Antonio, one of the most historic parts of the city. If a ghost is going to hang out anywhere in the San Antonio area, I’d say King William is a very likely spot, given the stately, slightly spooky homes, the San Antonio River with its hanging cypress trees, and those long afternoon shadows you get in South Texas.

My hero is Ray Ramos, the youngest sibling in the family. He has a good business renovating houses, but he’s up against a real money pit of a mansion in King William. He needs a quick infusion of cash to finish the repairs, and he gets it by renting the house out as a séance location for a television medium. Unfortunately, Ray and the medium’s assistant, Emma Shea, discover the house doesn’t just look haunted—it’s actually the home of a very nasty spirit with a real yen for Ray. Between trying to keep out of the ghost’s clutches while doing a bit of clutching themselves, my H/H are kept pretty busy.

Here’s a taste of Happy Medium:

“Join hands everyone,” Gabrielle intoned in her most resonant medium voice.

Ramos gave her a piercing look, then took hold of her hand, extending his other hand across the table to Emma.

Gabrielle’s fingers were faintly damp, but Ramos’s were dry and hard. His calluses rubbed against Emma’s palm. For a moment she felt something like a mild electric shock tingle through her fingers. She pulled her hand away, staring.

Ramos stared back, his eyes wide.

“Take his hand, Emma.” Gabrielle frowned. “We need to get on with this.”

Emma extended her hand again, touching her fingers cautiously against Ramos’s palm. Nothing. Maybe she’d imagined the whole thing. Probably she’d imagined the whole thing.

Gabrielle raised her head, gazing up into the dim shadows overhead. “Is there anyone here? We call on you to come forth.”

Across from Emma, Ramos rolled his eyes. He had that sour look again. Just hold on a little longer, and we’ll be out of your way.

“Come forth,” Gabrielle whispered.

Ramos looked at her, then shook his head slightly.

And the candles went out.

Emma’s head shot up, and she turned toward the fireplace. There hadn’t been any flickering, any feeling of a breeze. One moment the candles had been burning, and now they weren’t. She gaped at Ramos, who was gaping back at her, his forehead furrowing. Somewhere overhead a door slammed.

At the head of the table, Gabrielle seemed not to notice. “Spirit forces, we call to you,” she crooned.

Something touched the back of Emma’s neck, a quick brush, so light she wasn’t sure she’d felt it. Then it came again, more definite this time, fingertips along the edge of her shoulder. She whipped her head to the right, but she couldn’t see anything in the gathering darkness.

Ramos’s hand jerked against hers. She turned back to him, but he was watching Gabrielle.

No, not Gabrielle. Beyond Gabrielle, toward the fireplace. The mantle glowed dimly in the twilight, as if there were lights beneath it. Then, one by one, the votive candles thumped to the hearthstone in front of the fireplace, bouncing lightly. Another door slammed upstairs.

Meg BenjaminAbout Meg:
Meg Benjamin is an author of contemporary romance. Her Konigsburg series for Samhain Publishing is set in the Texas Hill Country and her Ramos Family trilogy for Berkley InterMix is set in San Antonio’s King William District. Meg’s books have won numerous awards, including an EPIC Award for Contemporary Romance, a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Indie Press Romance, the Holt Medallion from Virginia Romance Writers and the Beanpot Award from the New England Romance Writers. Meg lives in Colorado with her DH and two rather large Maine coon cats (well, partly Maine Coon anyway).
Her Web site is and her blog is
You can follow her on Facebook (, Pinterest (, and Twitter (
Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at


And if you want your very own taste of scary, Meg will be awarding an ebook copy of the complete Ramos Family Trilogy to one randomly drawn commenter during this tour.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post. For more chances to get your own copies of this terrific series, visit the other tour stops listed at Goddess Fish Tours.


Review: Happy Medium by Meg Benjamin

happy medium by meg benjaminFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available:
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Ramos Family/Medium #3
Length: 299 pages
Publisher: Penguin InterMix
Date Released: January 21, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Ray Ramos has a problem— the King William District mansion he and his business partner purchased for a fast renovation needs more work than expected. Ray could use a quick infusion of cash. Enter Emma Shea, assistant to Gabrielle DeVere, the star of American Medium. Gabrielle is looking for San Antonio houses to use for her televised séances, and Ray’s fixer-upper seems to fit. When Gabrielle does a sample séance for Ray, he witnesses something inexplicable and has an unsettling dream later that night. He then learns from his sister Rose about the Riordan family’s affinity for ghosts. But Emma also had a similar experience during the séance. The two decide to investigate the haunted house, even if it means taking on the vengeful succubus bound to it. It doesn’t hurt that Emma is immediately attracted to the laconic Ray or that Ray is intrigued by the buttoned-down beauty who seems determined to hide her considerable assets behind sober business suits.

My Review:

Medium Well by Meg BenjaminI loved the first two books in the Ramos Family Trilogy (Medium Well, Medium Rare) so I’ve been looking forward to the third book for several months. I’ll confess that even though I knew there were going to be three, I couldn’t figure out what the title of the third one was going to be. After the first two I kept thinking “steak” and couldn’t figure out what version of “doneness” came next!

Ray Ramos does not start the story as a happy medium, or at a happy medium. Let’s just say that Ray isn’t happy. He also doesn’t know he’s a medium, so make that two for two. In fact, Ray doesn’t know that both his brother Danny (Medium Well) and his sister Rosie (Medium Rare) are mediums, and that the women on his mother’s side of the family have been practicing mediums in the King William District of San Antonio for over a century.

Ray is not just in the dark, but it’s about to get darker. Ray flips houses for a living, and the house he’s just started working on is a money pit. It needs way more work than he estimated, and he and his business partner have way too much of their capital tied up in it. So when the buttoned up production assistant for the cable TV show American Medium (there we go again) appears at his door asking if he’d be interested in having the white elephant of a house featured on the show, he’s in it for the cash.

He’s also in it for the chance at seeing the assistant again. Something about Emma Shea pulls him in, in spite of, or maybe because of, the way she dresses to diminish her appearance. Emma just thinks that Ray is way out of her league, but she hopes that her eccentric diva of a boss will use the house, so that she will have a chance to see Ray again.

The good news is that Gabrielle DeVere, the very fake medium of American Medium, wants to feature the house. The bad news is that while Gabrielle doesn’t really feel the spirits, the test seance she conducts wakes up something in the house that would have been much better left sleeping.

This money pit of a house is not merely haunted, but whatever malevolent spirit is hanging around is an all-purpose sexual predator who tries to sink her talons into Ray. And that’s when he finds out that talking to the dead is the proverbial skeleton in his family closet. And that the family ghosts are surprisingly talkative…and helpful.

The first thing they tell him is to listen to Emma. Great idea! The more time they spend together, trying to figure out what is going on in the house, the more they realize that the ghost did them a favor…it brought them together. Now they just have to figure out how to get rid of it before it kills them.

Escape Rating B+: Happy Medium was a terrific conclusion to the Medium trilogy, although I’m very sorry that it’s the conclusion. I’ve really enjoyed all three books, and I wish there were more somehow. I do think that it helps to have read the entire series; there is information about the family that makes more sense if you’ve read the previous books. And they’re fun!

Although this series is about the Ramos family, it seemed like it was much more Emma’s story than Ray’s. Ray did have to accept that his family history was a little weird, and his dream conversations with the spirit members of the family were hard for him to swallow at first, but Ray is pretty grounded.

Emma is a hot mess. So there’s a story in her taking charge of her life, and taking it back from the bloodsucker that she works for. Emma does spend a little too much of the story lamenting the five pounds her boss says she needs to lose, and whinging about the life her boss doesn’t let her have. It’s great that she finally gets Gabrielle out of her life, but Emma starts out almost too mousy to become the heroine of her own life.

One of the things I love about this series is that in each book a lot of research needs to be done into the history of a house, its potential ghosts, and the King William District. It doesn’t matter to me whether all the history is true or not, what I appreciate is that not all the important heroics involved fighting and pyrotechnics; the historical research is equally necessary to solve the case.

My favorite line in this book: “Not all succubi are ghosts.” It’s even better that it’s said by a ghost.


*This review was originally published at The Book Pushers.
***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Medium Rare by Meg Benjamin + Giveaway

Medium Rare by Meg BenjaminFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Ramos Family, #2
Length: 305 pages
Publisher: InterMix
Date Released: August 20, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Rose Ramos was a reference librarian, until she inherited her grandmother’s house—and the family talent for connecting with the other side…

Moving into the lovely Victorian in San Antonio’s King William District is a dream come true for Rose—and also a nightmare. That’s the only explanation she has for the man hovering above her bed. But Skag is a ghost who’s been part of Rose’s family for generations. And now he’s all hers.

When Evan Delwin, a reporter out to debunk the city’s newest celebrity, posts an ad looking for a research assistant to investigate a famous medium making his home in San Antonio, Skag suggests that Rose apply for the job. Delving into the dark side has its own dangers for Rose—including trying to resist Delwin’s manly charms. But as the investigation draws them closer together, the deadly currents surrounding the medium threaten to destroy them all…

My Review:

Inheriting a Victorian pile in the snooty King William district of San Antonio from her grandmother comes as an unexpected shock to librarian Rose Ramos for any number of reasons.

First of all, she could only remember meeting her Grandmother Caroline Riordan three times at most. Secondly, her mother, meaning Grandmother Caroline’s daughter, was very much still alive, so Rose couldn’t figure out why the house hadn’t gone to her. Third and foremost in her mind, as much as she was enjoying the pleasure of owning the beautiful old monstrosity, grand old houses need a lot more money to maintain than she could imagine squeezing out of a librarian’s paycheck. (A thought to which I can only say “Amen sister!”)

Then the family ghost appears above her bed in the guise of Hannibal Lecter (he switches his appearance when she shrieks in terror, and who wouldn’t), and Rose discovers how Grandmother Caroline, as well as Grandmother Siobhan before her, really kept house and home together. The ghostly Skag coolly informs Rose that she, just like all the women in the Riordan family, is a powerful medium. The family business is talking with the dead.

This should descend into camp, but it doesn’t. Rose does not become the kind of medium who conducts séances, for one thing. Instead, she finds stuff for people. And there’s a money back guarantee. People will pay quite a bit to find out where their dead relatives hid the equivalent of the family silver.

Medium Well by Meg BenjaminMedium Rare fast forwards two years. The recap of those two years sounded like so much fun I bought a copy of the first book in the series, Medium Well, and reviewed it over at Book Lovers Inc.

Even though Rose makes her living by finding stuff for people, with the family ghost asking the dead for assistance in the finding, there are still plenty of mediums around San Antonio who hold seances. It’s easy for Rose to make her talent look like good old-fashioned library research.

A séance looks like woo-woo. It can look silly, or it can be fraud. There’s a new guy in town who might have tipped over the line from magic tricks to outright fraud, and there’s a psychic debunker in San Antonio who’s out to catch him.

That’s where the fun begins.

Evan Delwin is an investigative journalist who is just positive that all psychic practitioners and mediums must be frauds. Evan knows how all the tricks works. His dad was a famous magician, The Great Dell–until a trick went horribly wrong.

Now Evan works with the police to expose fraudulent so-called psychics, and he has his eye on one William Bradford, who has recently set up a very expensive operation in San Antonio. But everyone knows who he is. He needs an assistant.

Skag wants Rose to work with Evan, because Skag senses that there is more going on than just a worldly fraud.

Skag may be right, but the minute that Evan and Rose meet, they want to do one hell of a lot more than just work together. The problem is that Evan distrusts all psychics, and Rose isn’t telling him that she is one.

Then the hellhounds come to call…

Escape Rating B: A paranormal romance without either vampires or werewolves. And a hearty thank you to the author for not having the ghost be the love interest! I like my romances with a reasonable chance of happy ending. (Stacey Kennedy managed it once and terrifically with Supernaturally Kissed, but let’s not all go there)

Anytime a librarian is the hero or heroine, it’s cool with me.

But speaking of Rosa and Evan, these are two people who shouldn’t get together, but not for any of the usual reasons, which was a very interesting twist. He debunks what she is. Very cool. It’s not just that he doesn’t believe, it’s that he’s sure she’s a fraud. She starts out lying to him, and as the story goes on, we discover that he’s kind of lying to himself.

Two of the most fun characters in the story are Helen and Lenore. Especially Helen. She is an absolutely marvelous piece of invention; an over-protective hellhound who is invisible to everyone but Rosa and Evan, but who is still eating the very real furniture. I adore her, but I’m glad my couch is safe from her.

The third book in this series will be Happy Medium. My mind was going to the steak metaphor; medium well, medium rare, and I had a mental block about what the third state of “doneness” might be. So happy to have that resolved, and I’m looking forward to the book, too!

Meg BenjaminAbout Meg Benjamin

Meg Benjamin is writes contemporary romance for Samhain Publishing and paranormal romance for Berkley InterMix. Her books have won an EPIC Award for Contemporary Romance, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the New England Romance Writers Beanpot Award, and the Holt Medallion among other honors. Meg lives in Colorado.To learn more about Meg, visit her website and blog. You can also follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Meg loves to hear from readers–contact her at


Meg will be awarding a $15 Amazon gift certificate to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and E-copies of Medium Well (the preceding book in the series) to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour.

For other changes to win, please visit the other stops on the blog tour.

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***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Medium Well by Meg Benjamin

Medium Well by Meg BenjaminFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Series: Ramos Family/Medium Trilogy, #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: Feb. 2nd, 2013
Number of pages: 296 pages
Publisher: Berkley InterMix
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Publisher’s Website

Real estate agent Danny Ramos has always had a knack for selling homes, but when his boss saddles him with a neglected carriage house, Danny discovers that his abilities are more than simple intuition…

On his first visit to the house, Danny is confronted with visions of a violent murder. His assistant, Biddy Gunter, doesn’t seem affected, and Danny starts to think he’s going crazy—until he gets a visit from his mother, who suggests that Danny’s uncanny talent to sell old houses may stem from his family inheritance: psychic empathy.

When Biddy reveals to Danny her own strange dream about the carriage house ghosts, they team up to investigate and discover both the house’s dark history and their own unexpected attraction. But as the hauntings turn from unsettling to downright dangerous, Danny and Biddy need to figure out how to rid the house of its ghostly inhabitants, before their budding romance meets an untimely end…

My Thoughts:

We were just in San Antonio for WorldCon and took a bus tour that went around the King William area where this book (and the series) takes place. The residents of the area are too snooty too allow the tours to drive through. Small world.

But the houses are old, Victorian, and definitely did look like they either needed a lot of money or a lot of maintenance. Or both at once.

Who names their daughters Araceli and Biddy? I’m just saying…

Danny Ramos, on the other hand, not only sounds like, but apparently is, sex on a stick. And it’s a quality he generally exploits in his off-work time. Possibly occasionally in his on-work time, there were a couple of moments when I wondered. But that’s not this story.

You’ve heard of horse whisperers? Danny is a house-whisperer. Old houses tell him their secrets, and he is an expert at spinning those secrets into terrific stories that he uses to sell old houses to new owners. Expensive old houses.

Danny is a real estate agent, which should not be a novel-worthy profession, except when the house is demon-raddled. How does Danny know the house is possessed by a demon? At first, all he knows is that the house freaks him out, really, really badly. Then, he gets introduced to the woo-woo side of his family history, and discovers that his extra-special talent at selling houses is an extra-sensory talent.

Mom forgot to tell him that he comes from a very long line of mediums. The houses really are speaking to him. Or their ghosts are.

When the story opens, the biggest problem in Danny’s life is that his paranoid boss Araceli is out to get him fired. By the end, his biggest problem is that he needs to burn down a historic carriage house to stop a soul eating demon from getting loose and possessing the good citizens of San Antonio.

Medium Rare by Meg BenjaminVerdict: This is way, way more fun than it ought to be based on the description. I was reading the next book in the series, Medium Rare, for a tour, and the recap of previous events sounded so wild that I couldn’t resist getting this one just to see what the heck happened. This is pretty much of a hoot.

One of the bizarre things about the Ramos family is that the family talent for being a medium comes from the Riordan side, from their mother. Even weirder is that not only is Danny not supposed to have inherited the talent, but the Riordan side doesn’t run to boys. He and his brother are the first males in the family in centuries. Mom’s reactions to finding out that he has a demon to get rid of and that she has to own a talent she tried to forget are beyond interesting. Come to think of it, a book of mom’s love story with dad and getting out of the “family business” might be pretty good.

I both liked Biddy and she drove me nuts. She has been letting her older sister Araceli dictate her life for much too long, but I don’t have an exact fix on how old Biddy is. Gratitude, even for an extreme sacrifice, can only go so far. Biddy is a musician, and she’s not just fantastic at it herself but she’s fronting an absolutely awesome group. Biddy needs to devote herself to her music, and Araceli is pressuring her to give it up permanently. There’s something wrong in that dynamic that weakens both characters and turns Araceli into a stereotypical paranoid career-ladder climbing bitch.

Biddy’s family dynamics were not just awful but the resolution was too quick at the end. Danny’s were terrific, even as the big family secret got revealed. And I loved the research into the house.

There is a romance between Biddy and Danny that is a big part of the story. These two people are both figuring out who they really are, as well as figuring out they belong together. They have to do the first before they completely manage the second.


I give  Medium Well by Meg Benjamin 4 stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.