Monday, August 17, 2015

REVIEW: "Bitter Spirits" by Jenn Bennett

Bitter Spirits (Roaring Twenties, #1)

Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett
(Roaring Twenties #1)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality, Violence)
Historical/Paranormal Romance -- 1920s San Francisco

Berkley Sensation -- Published on January 7, 2014
Mass Market Paperback, 328 pages
Read in August 2015
Borrowed from library

RATING: 3.5 Stars

Imperfect Hero, Alpha Hero, Big Misunderstanding, Unusual Occupations

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…

"Aida Palmer's tense fingers gripped the gold locket around her neck as the streetcar came to a stop near Gris-Gris."

Any reader of my blog knows that historical romance is my favorite genre and I am trying to expand my reading to beyond Regency/Victorian England.  So, when I heard about this series, I knew I had to give it a try.  Jenn Bennett, most known for the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series, shifts her focus to the late 1920s in San Francisco and infuses that time period with ghosts, magic, and plenty of mystery.

The heroine of Bitter Spirits is Aida Palmer, a spirit medium who has recently taken a temporary position at a famous nightclub.  After losing her family as a child, Aida has spent much of her life drifting around which her abilities allow her to do on a pretty successful level.  She is not wealthy by any means, but has learned to be frugal and values her independence.  I really liked how intelligent and resourceful Aida was.  She wasn't perfect, but was willing to learn from her mistakes.

Winter Magnusson owns a fishing company that is a front for a very successful bootlegging operation.  He is completely devoted to his family and does everything he can to keep their lives comfortable.  Definitely an alpha male, but he does have some vulnerabilities especially related to his disastrous first marriage and his scarred face.  I fell in love with Winter and his stoic manners.  I enjoyed reading about how he managed his business yet still found time to show his sister how much he cared about her.

As a couple, Winter and Aida were a lot of fun.  They had immediate chemistry and their banter was one of my favorite parts of the book.  Both of them had issues to overcome like Aida's disbelief in love and Winter's fear of making another mistake in marriage.  There were a few moments of miscommunication that I thought dragged on too long and seemed to exist for plot's sake.  But, overall, I believed these two could have a happy life together.

Bitter Spirits also had an intriguing mystery subplot that allowed readers to see more interactions with the main characters and learn about this unique world.  Winter has been cursed by someone in Chinatown and he is trying to use Aida's spirit abilities to figure out the source.  They travel throughout San Francisco and meet some really interesting people along the way in order to solve the mystery.  This subplot was really well-done and I was shocked by the big reveal at the end.  I will say, though, that I thought the romance did get lost at times due to everything going on.

Despite a few issues, I had a good time reading Bitter Spirits.  I am going to look for the rest of the series and expect that I will be better suited to handle all the details now.  I am especially excited to see if Winter's sister, Astrid, and his assistant, Bo, end up together.

1. Bitter Spirits
2. Grim Shadows
3. Grave Phantoms

Goodreads -- Author Website

Amazon -- B&N -- BAM -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play -- All Romance -- Audible


  1. oh this sounds like a fun series and I can't wait to read it myself. Love the theme of this one though with the 20's and mix of paranormal.

    1. It is a lot of fun! I think you would really enjoy it.

  2. I keep telling myself I need to read other books besides regency and the occasional Medieval books. But they are just my favorite. But yay for trying out other time periods. I'm glad you enjoyed this, even if it wasn't a favorite. Winter sounds pretty darn awesome.

    1. Regency is probably my favorite as well, but I have enjoyed branching out lately. Winter is definitely up there in my favorite heroes of 2015 now!


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