Joint ARC Review & Author Guest Post: Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett ★★★★★

Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: The Roaring Twenties #1
Publication Date: January 7th 2014
ISBN: 9780425269572
Page Count: 336
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Copy: ARC
Reviewed by: Janice
Buy Link: AMAZON
Synopsis: 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…


Five Stars Aren't Enough!

Bitter Spirits and I were a match made in heaven. Everything about it, from the cover to the blurb to the sheer coolness of the 1920's setting, said, "You're going to fall madly in love with me!" - and that's exactly what happened. Bitter Spirits rang my bells, blew my whistles, and made me wish I could carry even half a tune so I could sing its praises properly.

Now, you could argue I'm biased because I'm already a Jenn Bennett fan. Her Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series is one of my favorites, so I knew going in that she would write this story right, but even I, devoted fan that I am, could not have imagined how much she would rock this new book.

With the hustle and bustle of 1920's San Francisco providing a colorful backdrop, Bitter Spirits tells the story of two strong but damaged people who are brought together by an unusual set of circumstances. Winter, you see, has somehow become the victim of a curse that causes ghosts to follow him wherever he goes. Desperate to stop the hauntings, he seeks out Aida Palmer, a spirit medium who, he's been told, can send the ghosts back to wherever they came from. That's all Winter wants - an end to his supernatural woes so he can get back to his bootlegging life. That is, until he meets Aida and discovers he wants something else too. Namely, the spirited, independent woman with the forthright gaze and the most beautiful freckled skin he's ever seen.

Winter isn't the only one who feels an attraction. Aida does too, and the sheer force of their desire for one another knocks them both for a hefty loop. They don't know what to make of it, or each other, and do their best to ignore the inconvenient pull they feel toward one another. They've both got skeletons in their closets and the weight of troubled pasts on their shoulders. There's simply no room in their lives for romance. Or so they tell themselves. But the heart wants what the heart wants, and Aida's and Winter's are demanding the same thing - each other.

There's a definite paranormal subplot woven throughout the book, and it leads Winter and Aida down some pretty fascinating (and dangerous) roads, but I confess, I was far more caught up in the romance - and holy mother of pearls, what a romance it was!

It's a tricky thing to bring together two such independent personalities, especially when one of them is a scarred, physically imposing alpha male whose mere presence has the power to intimidate. Aida could have easily become lost in Winter's shadow, and yet she held her own beautifully, both in and out of the bedroom. Sometimes Winter took the lead, and other times Aida did - and at all times, their passion burned hot and bright. You want scorching? Look no further. There are scenes in this book that will melt you in places you didn't even know existed. More than all that, though, by far the best thing about this romance was how well Winter and Aida fit each other, on every level. Jenn Bennett left no doubt in my mind that these two characters belonged together.

Bitter Spirits was an incredible novel on so many fronts, I can't even count them all. Five stars doesn't do it justice. It's a definite must-read and EVERYONE should add it to their reading lists.

5 Stars ★★★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


I'm going to keep this very brief because Janice already told you all you need to know and stole all the good words. But I just had to add my two-pence worth and say I loved it too! Me, me, I did, I did!

First of all—the era, the setting, the clothing, the language, the hints of magic, all layered together to make one deliciously sumptuous paranormal world unlike anything I've read before. I loved the 1920's details—they gave it such a unique flavour! 

Second—you may or may not know that I have a real soft spot for the big, grumbly bear-type characters. Those ones that are alpha enough, but not so alpha they make me want to hurl things. Kinda stern-looking on the outside, marshmallow on the inside. A that is exactly what Winter was and IlovehimIlovehimIlovehimIlovehim!

Thirdly—Aida. Oh, my God, Aida. She was wonderful! You've got to give her credit for at least pretending she was resistant to Winter's allure for all of five minutes at the beginning. It's a lot longer than I would have lasted!

And the last thing that stood out for me were the end scenes. Another great choice for setting/location that was very vivid and somewhat surprising!

Oh, and I loved Winter's sister. And Bo. There's more to those two, methinks. And I can't wait to meet his brother in book two and...oh, heck, I just liked it ALL!

5 Stars! ★★★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Author Jenn Bennett

My lovely host the Demon Librarian wanted to know what inspired me to write a paranormal love story in the 1920s. And the answer to that is simple: I wrote what I knew—and what I wanted to read.

My love affair with the 1920s started way, way back in my teens (a dog-eared copy of THE GREAT GATSBY + a French bob + long strings of flapper-friendly beads inherited from my grandmother). Since then, I’ve amassed a small library of 1920s research material, but it wasn’t until after I’d written my debut book, KINDLING THE MOON (Arcadia Bell #1), that I considered writing something set in that time period.

The first version of BITTER SPIRITS was actually a historical urban fantasy with different characters (and wildly different world-building) set in an alternate Baltimore. But somewhere along the way, I began reading more romance than fantasy, and I realized that I wanted to concentrate on the love story between the main characters. A year or so later, I scrapped that first version and started all over again, this time in San Francisco—a city I adore. Once I began dreaming up Winter and Aida’s romance there, everything clicked into place.

Regarding the paranormal element, apart from Aida’s talents as a spirit medium and the ghosts haunting Winter, there’s a little folk magic used by auxiliary characters—both hoodoo and traditional Chinese magic. I used to travel to Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan for work, which is what sparked my interest in Chinese culture. As for the hoodoo, Velma Toussaint (the owner of the speakeasy where my heroine works) has a few tricks up her sleeve. I went to grad school near New Orleans, so writing Velma and the magical aid she provides my hero and heroine was a joy.

Studied out of context, these things might seem incongruous. But when I assembled the pieces on paper, it all came together…like magic.


  1. This is the 3rd 5 star review I have seen for this book today! I'll be starting on it first thing tomorrow. Great review!

    1. Thanks so much! It's a fabulous book. Jenn Bennett is a truly amazing writer. Have fun reading it tomorrow! :)

  2. I agree; five stars most definitely isn't enough. LOVED this book and so happy to read that you loved it too!

    1. It's definitely going into my re-read pile, that's for sure! Can't wait for everyone else to get their hands on it and discover the awesomeness for themselves! :)

  3. This is the third review I've read singing this Book's praises!! It was already on my tbr, but Idk if I can wait much longer... I may just have to go buy it now and completely rearrange my reading schedule. Awesome review and fun guest post (it's always fun to see how a book grew and changed!)

    1. You're seeing those kind of reviews because the book is AWESOME, Berls! It's definitely one you should bump to the top of your list :)



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