Title: Bitter Spirits
Author: Jenn Bennett
Series: Roaring Twenties, book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance, 1920s
Source: Review copy from author
“First in a new romance series: 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…”
Bitter Spirits is the first installment in the new Roaring Twenties series by Jenn Bennett.
Jenn Bennett is one of my all time favorite authors. When I heard she was writing a new series set in the 20s, during the prohibition era I knew I have to read it. I believe in Mrs. Bennett talent so much I was sure I was in for a treat, and now, after having read Bitter Spirits I can say I was right.
Aida Palmer is a real spirit medium; she travels the country working in clubs. She is well known for her talent of summoning and vanishing spirits. Her latest job has brought her to San Francisco where she is working at a Gris-Gris speakeasy couple of nights a week. After one of her shows, her current boss and hoodoo practitioner, Velma Toussaint, calls her back to the club, her bootlegger, Winter Magnusson, has been hexed and needs Aida’s help vanishing a spirit.
Winter needs to find who hexed him and is trying to kill him. Being one of the three most powerful bootleggers in San Francisco comes with his dangers, but this is the first time they have come this close to get him out of the picture.
Even in his hexed state Winter is bigger than words. His face is deeply scarred, but for Aida that only gives him a darker appealing. Winter is surprised that when Aida looks at him she doesn’t see the monster everybody sees or the full wallet some women covet, she’s the only one for the last few years that has seen the real man under the scars.
Aida knows Winter is a dangerous man, not only because of his job but because of the feelings he’s awakening in her; what she doesn’t know is that she’s not the only one being affected by their closeness, Winter is as affected as her.
Winter is the epitome of a tortured hero; he’s scarred inside and out and his past has made him distrustful and hopeless about love. His experiences has showed him people, especially women just want him for his money and for what he can do for them. To add to that, he has to live with the guilt of his parents and wife’s deaths. Despite all that, Winter is a fighter and caring man that lives to protect and provide for those he loves. *swoom*
Aida is a very strong heroine; she’s smart, independent and sassy. She has worked hard to get where she is and has done it all by herself. She hasn’t had an easy life but hasn’t let that stop her in her efforts to be happy. Experiences and life have made her not believe in love or relationships. She sees them as an unnecessary restriction in life that will only cause pain and resentment.
Winter and Aida feel attracted to each other from the very first moment they meet, but the experiences and brands they carry in their hearts don’t let them be honest about what they feel. They want to be together, but the fear of being hurt is stopping them to get where they need to get, until life decides for them, leaving them no other option than to succumb to their passions and surrender their hearts.
The supporting characters are a delightful group that enhanced my enjoyment of the story, from the sorceress Velma, who despite pretending being an all businesswoman it was easy to see she had a big heart. To Winter’s sister, Astrid, whom welcome Aida to their little family, and help Winter and Aida see what they have in each other. And last but not least, Winter’s right-hand man, Bo, who goes the extra mile to protect Winter and his family.
There is an inner current between Astrid and Bo, and if I’m not wrong they will be the protagonists of the third book in the series. I can’t wait to see what Mrs. Bennett has in store for them.
One of the things I loved the most about Bitter Spirits was the setting, San Francisco in the 20s during the prohibition era. Mrs. Bennett does an excellent job with the description of the city, the fashions, the social currents and the events of the time. It was obvious Mrs. Bennett did a lot of research about it.
Bitter Spirits is everything you expect from a 1920s paranormal romance and much more. It has suspense, mystery, romance, steamy times, complex characters, and setting so vivid and realistic that it not only became another character, but also a very important part in the story.
Next book in the series, Grim Shadows, will feature Winter’s brother, Lowe Magnusson. We don’t know much about Lowe, only that he’s an archeologist and has been missing for some months. Still, that is enough for me to mark my calendar and eagerly wait to Grim Shadows’ release on June 3rd.
Jenn Bennett has outdone herself with Bitter Spirits. A book I can’t recommend you enough. Trust me, you want to read this book, go buy it, read it and thank me later.
My Verdict: 5 Paws
Other books in the series
Grim Shadows (June 3rd)
Other reviews Goodreads