Review: Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett

Review: Bitter Spirits by Jenn BennettBitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett

Genres: Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance
Published by Berkley on January 7, 2014
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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four-half-stars  

Saw the cover, saw the blurb and saw myself having a rollicking good time reading this one.  I love the Roaring 20s time period and San Francisco is one of my favorite cities.  Pair that with a heroine who makes a business out of ghosts and a tough bootleg boss for a hero who’s being plagued by ghosts and yeah, those are the makings for a pretty good story.

Aida Palmer is a spirit medium and one of the acts at the Gris Gris Speakeasy Club.  Her work is for entertainment, but what she does is real.  She’s not making a fortune, but its enough to help her get by and live independently.  One night, she is called back to work, but this time it’s not to bring a ghost back for a chat; it is to exorcise a ghost that is plaguing her boss’ bootlegger.

Winter Magnusson has been hexed so that not only can he now see spirits, but they follow him around too.  His whole body perks to attention when he gets a gander at the little female who arrives to take care of his personal haunting problem.  She gives him the slow head to toe too.  Too bad the poison that contained the spell leaves him in no position to do more than collapse on top of her.

After Aida gets a full monty of Winter Magnusson the night they saved his life, she can think of nothing else, but her attraction to him.  Fortunately, he seems to be just as interested because now he wants her help with further supernatural issues.  At first she isn’t sure if he just wants to use her for her ability, have a one night stand or if there is something more.  Winter’s a hard man with an equally hard past, but then again, her past wasn’t exactly pain-free either.

Winter can’t even focus whether its his business or the unseen enemy who is sending ghosts after him to shut him down.  He wants Aida in a bad way.  She doesn’t care about his horrific facial scars nor is she intimidated by his big powerful presence.  She also isn’t the easiest female to coax into his bed, but he doesn’t want her to be either.  He can’t figure out if that feeling inside him means he’s relieved that she’s leaving in a month or if for the first time he wants a woman to stay in his life.

The danger closes in as others in Winter’s business are meeting sad ends and the threats to him and Aida are escalating.  It will take Winter, Aida and all their near associates working together to defeat their enemy.

The plot on this one offered up so many wonderful components to make this an exceptionally good read- passion, danger, intrigue, characters with depth, scintillating dialogue, and a wonderful historical backdrop.  The pace moved along just right working well with what was happening at the time whether someone was being introspective or someone was in a dangerous situation.

The time and place of this story was drawn well.  Details of activities, clothing, technology, language, and even how the people acted and thought felt very authentic.  I enjoyed San Francisco for the location because it offered a bit of everything what with the various diverse parts of the city that were in the scenes of Chinatown, Pacific Heights, the wharves, etc.

The characters were the big thing that grabbed my attention from the start and kept me avidly reading.  Both Aida and Winter narrated the story.  They were such charismatic people and they just glowed and crackled with electricity when they were together.  Now, that being said, they were also very infuriating at times because both of them had stubborn streaks, trust issues, and judged each other through the filter of their pasts which neither had moved away from.  I knew this was all part of their flaws and the area that would be where they grew, but yeesh, did it take them a long time to come to terms and deal.  Okay, well in all fairness, they did have several dangerous interruptions too.  Truthfully, I was just impatient because I loved these two together.  They sizzled whether they were talking or seducing each other.  Winter, wow was that man misnamed, was enough to fire Aida’s blood and he wasn’t afraid to say and do exactly what he wanted to make her feel beautiful and desired since she did the same for him by not seeing his disfigurement or his money, but him as a person.  Aida was one lucky lady to have found a guy who liked a little freckled female with a sassy mouth.

In the end, it was a wonderful start to a series and I can’t wait to read the next story featuring Winter’s brother.

Those who enjoy a bit of mystery and authenticism to the history side and a lot of passion and spice to the romance side, should give this one a chance.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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  • Nailed it with your comments about the setting! It feels so exotic to have the story set in Chinatown in SF during the 20’s.

    I’m surprised the next book isn’t Astrid’s but after reading the excerpt for Grim Shadows, I’m sold!

    • I know what you mean. I blew right through the end of this one right into the preview for the next. I’m rarin’ to go for that one. Yay! Glad to share the happies about this one with another fan.