This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on May 5, 2015
They have been crushing on each other since she was just sixteen and now she’s coming home to do something about it. Though even for a fearless Magnusson descended from Vikings, love can be complicated. Astrid is in love with the Chinese man who rose from a scrappy thief on the streets when her brother practically adopted Bo to becoming Winter’s most trusted right-hand man in the family bootleg business. Talk about forbidden romance! I have been excited for this story since I saw hints of Bo and Astrid’s interest in book one and now it was finally their turn. While this one wasn’t as epic with the paranormal action, it was a knotty tangle of a romance that made up for it.
Astrid is a sassy, sparkling pretty young woman ready to stretch her wings out in the big world away from the protection of both her big brothers so she heads to university in Southern California. But independence isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when she’s homesick for San Francisco and her family, when she made some big mistakes and when school doesn’t quite seem to be her thing. Most of all, she misses Bo. Dreadfully. He stopped returning her letters after she snarled at him for warning her against starting something up with her professor. Okay and he was right, but it was her mistake to make. However, now that she’s back for her birthday and the holidays, she’s going to get some answers out of the frustrating, confusing man who has starred in her dreams for years.
Bo sees the determination and ire in Astrid’s eyes when she saunters into his office at the dockside warehouse for her brother’s bootlegging business. Reading those letters of her time with her professor and those other college men ate at him and also taught him that his feelings needed to be stored away. He needed to move on. He was Chinese and she was white. He had grown up a servant in her brother’s house and she was a wealthy socialite. And then there was Winter who had been like a father to him and he couldn’t betray Winter’s trust with his little sister.
Apparently, Astrid wasn’t on board with this plan, but before she can corner him an odd ghost ship with passengers arrives at the pier. The police come and take away the bewildered survivors and it’s determined that the boat disappeared a year before. Things get more mysterious when Astrid gets pulled into the mess by touching a little idol made of turquoise. There is nothing for it, but to get answers. And he suspects that he needs to find the answers about what to do about how he and Astrid feel about each other because Astrid isn’t letting him evade matters.
Compared to the first two books, this one might be considered tame in the dangerous intensity of the action. Not that it’s lacking action and danger, but foremost in this one is the passionate romance between two people that feel love and everything from honor, duty and the law tell them they can’t have it.
For the most part, I enjoyed this one. Astrid was iffy for me at first, but I had to remind myself that she is young and relatively naive to explain her brash emotions and logic. She is not the rich, beautiful, spoiled younger sister for nothing, but she wasn’t awful just determined. She knew what the significant barriers were for her and Bo to be together, but she didn’t understand more than ‘we want to be together so there must be a way’. Bo was the one who thought through the practical ramification of what daily living would be like and he was the one who cared more for her family’s approval since they were his adopted family as well. He’s also lived a tough life as a survivor compared to her more sheltered existence.
[quote]Over the years, Astrid had witnessed plenty of small indignities. People poking fun at her parents’ accents. Greta being ignored at the market while someone less foreign was served ahead of her. But none of that came close to what Bo had to suffer…
Astrid was suddenly livid.
The woman muttered something about “trash” and “immigrants” taking over their apartment building…
“What have you told me before?” Bo murmured. “It’s not worth it.”
“I was wrong”…
“The answer is yes.” Bo said over the clack of the rising elevator, surprising her.
She raised her head. “What’s that?”
“You asked me earlier if I missed you. And I did. Terribly.”
Oh, well then. Astrid flicked a glance to the elevator operator. He looked straight ahead.
Bo wasn’t finished. “I thought of you the entire time I was at work last night. I went to sleep thinking about you. I even dreamed about you. About us. Together.”
“Stars,” Astrid murmured breathlessly.
The elevator operator slid her a sideways glance of approval. He was impressed with Bo’s daring too. It was thrilling to hear Bo say any of this at all- and in public? Well. That knocked her for a loop.
- 121-123 Astrid and Bo from Grave Phantoms[/quote]
[quote]Upon forcing himself to shake off the druggy haze of the pain pill, he’d remembered a word he’d overheard Astrid saying when she’d been confessing to Le-Ann in the Moon’s parlor: My feelings for him are sempiternal.
He had no idea what that meant. But like everything else he didn’t know, he sought the education he required between the pages of his humble library. He was able to sound the word out and find it in his battered Webster’s.
Sempiternal: eternal, everlasting.
My feelings for him are sempiternal.
That did it. He was probably the only man alive to masturbate after reading the dictionary.
- 161 Bo from Grave Phantoms[/quote]
The romance slowly develops from ‘we can’t be together’ to ‘maybe we need to figure out how we can’. Meanwhile, they spark with anger, humor, and passion along the way. Bo is sexy, strong, and is every bit Astrid’s equal and she is well aware of his worth. His dominating nature in the bedroom was a squirmy scorchy surprise that was engaging to read. He pointed out to Astrid that outside the bedroom he was emasculated and treated like her inferior, but here he could be a man and truly himself. Astrid understood and was all for it. The two of them were great together.
[quote]”I’m just saying there are those gray areas between the neighborhoods, and that makes me think that maybe that’s a place for us. We aren’t the first people to do this. Love crosses streets. It doesn’t realize that it is supposed to stay confined to one neighborhood.”
- 228 Astrid from Grave Phantoms[/quote]
As to the backdrop of the 20s, that was there and there were lots of authentic bits from their speech, to their clothes, to their activities and down to the social culture of the times. The author wove it into the story well.
This one felt like the end of a series particularly with that epilogue (which was so adorable by the way), but I’ve not heard for sure. It was a natural place to wrap things up, but I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to other stories in this fun paranormal world.
To wrap it up, it was another engaging installment in the series that I enjoyed from cover to cover. Fans of spicy romance set in the Roaring 20s blended with paranormal elements should definitely give this book/series a look-see.
My thanks to Penguin Group and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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