Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett
Series: Roaring Twenties #1
Published by Berkley
Published on: January 7, 2014
Genres: Paranormal Romance
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It’s the roaring twenties, and San Francisco is a hotbed of illegal boozing, raw lust, and black magic. The fog-covered Bay Area can be an intoxicating scene, particularly when you specialize in spirits…
Aida Palmer performs a spirit medium show onstage at Chinatown’s illustrious Gris-Gris speakeasy. However, her ability to summon (and expel) the dead is more than just an act.
Winter Magnusson is a notorious bootlegger who’s more comfortable with guns than ghosts—unfortunately for him, he’s the recent target of a malevolent hex that renders him a magnet for hauntings. After Aida’s supernatural assistance is enlisted to banish the ghosts, her spirit-chilled aura heats up as the charming bootlegger casts a different sort of spell on her...
On the hunt for the curseworker responsible for the hex, Aida and Winter become drunk on passion. And the closer they become, the more they realize they have ghosts of their own to exorcise…
Jenn Bennett’s urban fantasy series is already on my auto-buy list so when Bitter Spirits landed on my to-read pile I couldn’t resist opening it to see if her romance measured up to her action. And, it most certainly does! This author’s ability to write stunning characters, magical universes and gripping plot lines transcends genres. I loved everything about this novel from the setting, to the love story to the oh-so satisfying ending. This is going to be a hard act to follow but with another installment due out later this year plus a new Arcadia Bell book; I’m betting this won’t be Bennett’s only wow moment of 2014.
This isn’t the first novel that I’ve read set in the 1920’s but it is the only one that’s made me want to climb between the pages and experience the prohibition era for myself. The world-building is exceptional; I adored the bootlegging aspect of this story line. The author successfully straddles the deliciously thin line between excitement and fear and, the result is infectious. I truly felt like I was stepping into another universe while reading this book; I loved the speakeasy atmosphere and the raids helped to amp up the danger element even more.
Another element that immediately caught my attention was the fact that the heroine has freckles! Most protagonists in paranormal romance are portrayed as having flawless skin so I loved how Bennett took a trait that’s commonly viewed as an imperfection and turned it into something beautiful. I’ve never hated my freckles but by the end of this book, I was feeling pretty darned good about them, especially considering Aida was able to nab a hottie like Winter with hers! The two main characters in this novel aren’t good-looking in the traditional sense; they both have their respective scars and imperfections, which in my opinion, only further added to their charm. It was refreshing to read about “real” people for a change.
I found the progression of Aida and Winter’s romance to be immensely satisfying; both are afraid of love after having experienced heartbreaking loss and they are reluctant to open themselves up to the possibility of more pain. At times, I found the unspoken words and misunderstanding between them to be downright devastating. I was pretty sure that these two were going to get their HEA by the end of this book but of course, Bennett loves to keep her readers in doubt until the very last chapter.
If I hadn’t known beforehand I would never have guessed that this was Jenn Bennett’s paranormal romance debut; her first kick at the can puts many of this genre’s seasoned veterans to shame. Bitter Spirits was a great way to start the new year and an even better way to kick-off this exciting new series!