Series: Roaring Twenties #1
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Published by Berkley on 07 January 2014
Reading Challenges: 2014 Antique Reading Roadshow
Bitter Spirits is simply the cat’s whiskers and the bee’s knees (love my 1920s slang?) and isn’t a book that should be missed. When Winter Magnusson, debonair bootlegger, has a problem in the form of ghosts he turns to Aida Palmer, spirit medium. Someone hexed Winter and now spirits of those he extinguished follow him everywhere. Aida is happy to oblige as Winter is rather well built and a girl on her own has to make a dollar or two where she can. Winter’s problems continue to mount along with his attraction to Aida.Aida is a great mix of practicality and sultriness. Her quick wit and freckles drive Winter to distraction (I’ve never come across a character with a freckle fetish before so it was rather refreshing). Life hasn’t exactly been kind to her though as she lost her beloved brother in the war and her method of entering a trance so she can talk to spirits is extremely painful. Aida has to follow the job offers and she can’t afford to get in too deep with Winter as her next gig is just around the corner.
Winter makes no apologies for his occupation and is pretty proud he improved things from when his father ran the show. He too suffered a tragic loss which scarred him and throwing himself into work was one way of coping. He might act tough but he was like a marshmallow when it came to Aida and his sister. I really enjoyed his interactions with his sister, employee Bo and fellow criminal leader because they took him out of the stereotypical burly alpha male.
Love doesn’t develop between these two for a long time, instead we have lots and lots of lust with a side helping of jealousy. There is a side plot where Aida and Winter try to discover who is cursing him and why. I could have done with a bit more paranormal happenings simply because they were so fun. The arrival of new spirits moves the pace along fairly well and the denouement was satisfying.
If Bennett’s name wasn’t on the cover, I wouldn’t have connected this book with the author of the Arcadia Bell series because the styles are so different. Bennett doesn’t go overboard with 1920-isms but still manages to evoke that vibe with her world-building. I really hope we get an honest-to-goodness flapper though in the next book. Please??