Sunday, July 05, 2015

Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett

Title: Bitter Spirits
Author: Jenn Bennett
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Roaring Twenties #1

Mass Market Paperback, 328 pages
Publication: January 7, 2014 by Berkley Sensation

Source: Personal library.


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…
Firstly, it must be said that I am a big fan of Bennett’s Arcadia Bell series and the author herself…she’s one of the kindest and sweetest authors I know. I was excited when I first heard that Bennett was writing a new series; a series set in the 1920’s and with ghosts! Everything sounded very promising. Bennett once again sets her new series in the familiar stomping ground of San Francisco, following Aida a spirit medium and Winter, a bootlegger.

I’m starting to think that paranormal romance (ones with changing characters/plots)aren’t for me. I’ve read a lot of paranormal romance in the past and only one series comes to mind that I absolutely loved from start to finish. But this is Benett we’re talking about; if her name is on it…I’m going to read it. That being said, it really pains me to say this but I didn’t enjoy this as much as I enjoyed reading the first Arcadia book/series (also by Bennett). The writing is excellent of course and yes, I was engaged most of the time but it didn’t have the same spark as her other series. Bitter Spirits is set in the 1920 era but I never got that vibe or enough descriptions to paint the picture of a 1920’s San Francisco. Winter, our male lead is hexed by black magic, which turns him into a walking magnet for ghosts. The predicament Winter finds himself in leads him to spiritualist Aida, who has the ability to banish specters. And off goes the sexual fireworks. The sexual tension, in my opinion is seriously overboard. I can’t think of a single scene, where the character weren’t picturing each other naked or having improper thoughts. It was too much for me, and took away from the story. But if I’m being honest, there wasn’t much of a story to begin with, since the book focuses only on the main characters. And I’m all for character driven novels, but even so, I didn’t connect or empathize with these characters all that much.

I like Winter, he’s your usual flair of an alpha male hero...I can’t think of anything negative to say about him. As for Aida, I liked her in the beginning. She started off as a strong and independent business woman but once she started working for/with Winter…it was like she got bit by the nasty jealous bug. Okay, I know it’s normal to be jealous at times in a relationship…its human nature. But the scene where Winter and Aida visits Ju and meets Ju’s woman, Aida learned a whole lot about Winter’s past and got all annoyed and jealous. That really bugged me. She got mad that Winter didn’t tell her about his past involvement with Ju’s lady. Like really, Aida? Realistically, why would he?! They’re not together and he’s only known her for a couple of weeks. Not everyone bares all their secrets to strangers! The more I read about Aida, the more I disliked her. But there were other characters that shined. Surprisingly though, the two characters I found most intriguing weren’t the leads but the minor characters Bo and Astrid. They both made brief appearances, Astrid had just a handful of scenes but it was enough to make them memorable.

Bitter Spirits was an okay-good read. The world building and plot isn’t strong which is quite a shock for me coming from Bennett other series, and the characters not as personable as I like. I didn’t like this book nor did I hate it. Bitter Spirits had its moments; there were some scenes I enjoyed and others not so much. This is probably a 2 1/2 star book, but I can't give the author anything less than 3 stars because it was well-written...just, everything I usually love about her characters/world building, I got less of. Does that make sense? I still have the other two books in my TBR pile, debating if I should continue with the series or not. Who knows, maybe I’ll enjoy the other leads more. I am curious about Bo and Astrid’s story. We’ll see.

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