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Review: Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett

Review: Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett
Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett
Series: Roaring Twenties #1
Published by Berkley
Published on: January 7, 2014
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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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…

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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!

Carmel Signature
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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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  1. I was already excited about this book, but know I’m twice as much! I read really good thing about it. I can’t wait, unfortunately I couldn’t find any plans for the audio, but Iwill read this one for sure 🙂
    Thank you Carmel!

    • I don’t think any of Bennett’s books are available in audio yet but you should definitely make this one one of the few novels you do actually read this year!

  2. Love the review & totally agree with everything you said – this book was AMAZING 🙂

  3. Wow, this has had some really great reviews so far. Excited about picking up my copy tomorrow.

  4. Awesome review Carmel. I so loved this book! I have very high hopes for the second one. And those covers are so beautiful.

    • The covers are definitely gorgeous. Glad you felt the same way I did about this one.

  5. I’ve really been looking forward to Bitter Spirits and you’re review makes me want to start it that much sooner! Thanks Carmel!

    • You’d better bump it up your list then. 🙂

  6. You couldn’t have said it better. This book was great!… I want to have Winter’s babies!

  7. Wonderful review, this was my first experience with the author, and I completely loved the characters, mystery and setting. My review posts the 21st. I am anxious to continue the series.

    • Then you should definitely check-out her UF series; it’s just as good but with more action!

  8. So excited! Great review and now I really can’t wait!!!

  9. I’ve been dying to read this book and am super excited after this review! Jenn Bennett never disappoints. Have you read her Arcadia Bell series yet? It’s a must read! 😉

    • Of course I have! Who do you think you’re talking to??! 😉

  10. I’m so glad you loved it too. It was a wonderful surprise but well it’s Jenn Bennett isn’t it? I shouldn’t be surprise. I love the period and the story, I can’t wait for more!

    • Exactly! If Jenn Bennett’s name is on the cover you just KNOW it’s gonna be good!

  11. I can’t wait to read this! Finally it’s out! =)

  12. Not only do I seriously want to check out this series – you’ve got me wanting to go check out all her work. I think I’ll start with this one though, as it sounds like its right up my alley. I love the 20s era, but I don’t think I’ve read any books with that setting. And I love REAL characters. Awesome review!

    • Any book is a good place to start as far as Bennett is concerned. I <3 her writing!

  13. Great review! Looking forward to reading this one 🙂