Friday, 3 January 2014

ARC Review: Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett

Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett
Series: Roaring Twenties #1
Release Date: January 7th, 2013
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Pre-Order: Amazon | Book Depository
Goodreads Summary

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…

Jenn may have made me give up my first born child but this book was worth it. Anything Jenn writes is worth it. This woman knows what she is doing. She has yet to disappoint me (TOUCH WOOD). When I started this book, I knew without a doubt I would love it and love it I did.

When I heard that Jenn was writing a series that took place in the 20s I was ecstatic. The 20’s are one of my favorite time periods and to know that one of my favorite authors was writing a book that took place during that time…I think you know where I am going with this.

Jenn really did manage to capture the essence of that time though. It was believable; it didn’t seem to be just facts. Jenn really brought the time period to life and I was a goner. I have to say though; this series is COMPLETELY different from Arcadia Bell. They may both share a paranormal aspect but the world building and the focus on romance makes the two different from one another.

There is magic involved but it is so different from the kind of magic in Arcadia Bell. It’s more down to Earth and less magical if that makes any sense.

I ABSOLUTELY ADORED how Jenn played with Prohibition, she throws us right in the middle of it and makes our male lead a bootlegger. *claps hands* The woman is brilliant I tell you. Winter’s life changed two years ago because of a car accident. It left him disfigured and low on self-esteem (he wouldn’t admit that last part to you though). He picked himself up though and he carried on. He further built his father’s business and became a better boss than his father ever was. When someone tries to poison him with GU and ghosts start attacking him as a result, he enlists the help of the famous medium Aida. Winter is, I cannot help comparing, completely different from Lon (from the Arcadia Bell series). He is a lot more intense and can sometimes be a little dense when it comes to Aida. But he is also passionate and loving and will do anything for the ones he loves.  He also wears suspenders (although I suspect all men did in that time period but no one probably pulled them off as well as he did) so he is a winner.

Aida was a strong female, although honestly I thought she might be a flapper before I read the book. I am so glad she wasn’t even if I am sad flappers weren't mentioned. Aida was perfect just the way she was. She was a proud woman who isn’t ashamed of what she does. She earns a living by travelling around and performing ‘shows’ where she calls back people’s loved ones from the dead for one last chat. She is unapologetic and sassy but she is also a survivor, which makes me like her even more.

The best thing about the romance was how it did NOT overshadow the plot. There was quite a bit of focus on it and it didn't just linger in the background but the plot didn’t fade into the background because of the intensity of the romance. In fact Jenn managed to make both the plot and the romance shine. The romance did give off insta-attraction vibes but I decided to give it a chance to develop further before forming an opinion and boy was it worth it. The setting makes it even more interesting. There is this sensuality in the romance that makes it so magical. The going to the hotels, the raids, the old fashioned cars/cabs, the calling each other on the old fashioned phones where you would have to get through an operator to connect to the person you are trying to call, it was all wonderful.

The plot, as I mentioned, was well developed. I LOVED the Chinese dark magic, I cannot recall the correct term so don’t mind me. I loved the spying. I loved how the mystery unravelled and I loved how I had not thought that that person would be the culprit.

Jenn really did it again with this book. I am a little sad that the series will not continue on with these two characters I have come to love and am not sure how I feel about reading the sequels which will feature other characters but the fact that Astrid and Bo’s story, which Jenn told me, is set in the great depression makes me (not so) slightly curious.

I would recommend this to fans of the 20’s (like me) and fans of historical romances who would enjoy reading a good romance that doesn't become the life of a book.


  1. Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life3 January 2014 at 15:26

    Haha, the first line of your review is so perfect! ;) I'm really glad that this one managed to live up to your expectations, Rashika!

    I have yet to read a book placed in the 20s, and I love how the author really plays with the Prohibition, placing you in it. I love that old-timey feel that is in the best of historicals, because you can really feel like you're there.

    Also, both of the main characters sound like such awesome characters. I love the sound of Winter's backstory, and 'm excited to see how that factors in to the lovely romance with Aida. It's also great to hear that the romance doesn't overshadow the plot. That's one of my biggest pet peeves with romances, because I still want the plot. Not just the romance. But it looks like the author managed to perfectly weave those two together. And Chinese dark magic? It looks like I've officially been intrigued. ;)

    Lovely review, Rashika! I'm definitely going to have to check this one out now!

  2. She DID! She told me I'd have to give my first born. *sighs* Not too big of a deal since I am still too young :P

    This was my first book, the second I hope will be The Diviners since I've had that book for forever. The old timey feel always gets me. Ever since I read the Little House series. You cannot help but romanticize the 'old days'. Where things were so much more different.

    I love it when an author can pull off a combination of both romance and plot without either overshadowing the other but this IS a historical romance of sorts so the romance IS in excess :)

    Thank you Aneeqah, I hope you enjoy it :D

  3. I've seen this around quite a few times, but your review is the first that I've read. You sure know how to make me want to read something! This sounds BRILLIANT. I think the last book that I read that took place in the 20s was The Diviners, so it's been quite a while, and I think this sounds like my sort of thing. I'm glad that romance never overshadowed the plot, even if it was given a lot of attention. I can't wait to meet Winter and Aida now. Great review, Raskiha! :)

  4. I hope the second book I read that takes place in the 20's is The Diviners. What with the sequel coming out and the fact that I've had it for over a year... I think it's time.

    Thanks Sam! :D

  5. Oh, cool! I like this era and it's not one that's written about that much. I hadn't heard this author had a new series out, so thanks for the heads up! I actually tend to like stuff that's a little more grounded in reality, so your note about that makes me hopeful.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  6. Yay! There is magic involved but it's more like the old fashioned kind, with curses, weird ingredients, coins and stuff, which makes me feel like it's more grounded in reality. Plus the 20's atmosphere. It all works really well.


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