Grave Phantoms by Jenn Bennett
Series: Roaring Twenties #3
Published by Berkley Sensation
Published on: May 5, 2015
Genres: Paranormal Romance
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From the author of Grim Shadows and Bitter Spirits comes the new Roaring Twenties novel in the series hailed as “Boardwalk Empire meets Ghost Hunters, but so much better” (Molly Harper, national bestselling author of the Jane Jameson series).
Feisty flapper Astrid Magnusson is home from college and yearning for the one thing that’s always been off limits: Bo Yeung, her notorious bootlegging brother’s second-in-command. Unfortunately her dream of an easy reunion proves difficult after a violent storm sends a mysterious yacht crashing into the Magnussons’ docks. What’s worse, the boat disappeared a year ago, and the survivors are acting strangely…
Bo has worked with the Magnusson family for years, doing whatever is needed, including keeping his boss’s younger sister out of trouble—and his hands to himself. Of course, that isn’t so easy after Astrid has a haunting vision about the yacht’s disappearance, plunging them into an underground world of old money and dark magic. Danger will drive them closer together, but surviving their own forbidden feelings could be the bigger risk.
This is the second time in as many years that I’ve had to bid adieu to one of Jenn Bennett’s series, and I really hate goodbyes. GRAVE PHANTOMS had a different vibe to it than the two previous installments because the final Magnusson sibling is younger, female, and the romance had a friends turned lovers spin to it. The plot wasn’t quite as strong as books 1 & 2 with somewhat choppy writing, and a discernible separation between Astrid & Bo’s relationship, and the ghost yacht story line rather than a blended narrative.
To an outsider, the Roaring Twenties era appears to be a fun adventure, that is if you’re a white American, however for people like Yeung, it’s anything but. I liked how the author succeeded in capturing the prejudice of this period, and how it added a level of taboo-ness to the love story. Witnessing the general population’s treatment of Bo, and immigrants as a whole, through his eyes as well as via Astrid, someone who cares deeply for him, was humanizing, and I thought that the two characters’ reactions were very genuine.
I loved how madly independent both of the protagonists were; Miss Magnusson with her refusal to live in her brothers’ shadow, and Yeung’s unwillingness to accept hand-outs. It was great seeing these two finally take steps towards achieving their happily-ever-after, and strangely it wasn’t their moving reunion that caused me to reach for a tissue, although that too was a close call. Instead, it was Bo’s heart-to-heart with Winter; his second-in-command envisioned the worst when he declared his intentions, but family by choice is no small thing.
The artefact decoding facet of this tale was in a lot of ways similar to GRIM SHADOWS; however it wasn’t quite as detailed as Lowe’s novel, or as entertaining. Pirates aboard a ghost yacht sound exciting, and yet the parts didn’t fit as cleanly together as they could have which made Bennett’s last hurrah rather tame in comparison to ROARING TWENTIES # 1 & 2. I wish that the epilogue had been slightly longer, and had encompassed all of the Magnusson clan to a larger extent as opposed to being mostly about Astrid & Bo.
GRAVE PHANTOMS was a fitting conclusion to this trilogy.
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