Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: Grave Phantoms by Jenn Bennett

Grave Phantoms by Jenn Bennett
Series: Roaring Twenties, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance Grave Phantoms Cover
ISBN: 9780425280768
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Jenn Bennett Reading Order

Feisty flapper Astrid Magnusson is home from college and yearning for the one thing that’s always been off limits: Bo Yeung, her notorious bootlegging brother’s second-in-command. Unfortunately her dream of an easy reunion proves difficult after a violent storm sends a mysterious yacht crashing into the Magnussons’ docks. What’s worse, the boat disappeared a year ago, and the survivors are acting strangely…

Bo has worked with the Magnusson family for years, doing whatever is needed, including keeping his boss’s younger sister out of trouble—and his hands to himself. Of course, that isn’t so easy after Astrid has a haunting vision about the yacht’s disappearance, plunging them into an underground world of old money and dark magic. Danger will drive them closer together, but surviving their own forbidden feelings could be the bigger risk.

Grave Phantoms is an exceptionally entertaining, insanely addictive read that is not to be missed! I’ve been dying to read Astrid and Bo’s book since I first saw sparks fly between them in Bitter Spirits. Fortunately, Jenn Bennett has made their story well worth the wait – Grave Phantoms is a truly captivating, fast-paced, sizzling read with endearing characters and a romance that will stay with you long after you finish the book.

Bo is a hero who will grab your heart from the very beginning and not let go. He was given a job by Winter Magnusson as a teenager and has since become like family to the Magnussons, though not entirely. Bo is a man straddling worlds, not fully fitting in among the Chinese community after years of living with Winter, but his race and socioeconomic status keep him from being part of the Magnussons’ world. Falling for Astrid complicates his already complex life, but when the sexual tension between them comes to a full boil, there’s no way for Bo to keep his feelings from spilling out. Astrid, in turn, is a vivacious young woman whose energy is infectious. She’s not a brat by any stretch of the imagination, but she is a bit spoiled in the beginning of the story, which is to be expected because she’s young, wealthy, and adored. But though she’s privileged, Astrid is so charismatic that you’re simply drawn to her; there’s no way you could not adore her. She also has a big heart and it’s been clear throughout the series that she gave it to Bo a long time ago. The two of them are a fantastic couple, their chemistry so compelling you’ll be unable to put Grave Phantoms down.

Yet while it’s clear Bo and Astrid are made for one another, as Astrid soon begins to understand, love isn’t enough to make a relationship between her and Bo work. This is, after all, San Francisco in the 1920s, and Ms. Bennett does not pay lip service to the realities of racism. Woven into Grave Phantoms is the blatant racism Bo is faced with on a daily basis along with the harsh realities he and Astrid will face as an interracial couple. Not only is it illegal for Bo and Astrid to marry in California, in many places merely touching Astrid in public could land Bo in hot water. Even under the best of circumstances, with a supportive, powerful family behind them, Bo and Astrid will have a lot of ignorance and hostility to face in order to make it as a couple. But the risk (to Bo in particular) is worth the reward when you have two people in love and ready to fight for the happiness they deserve. Ms. Bennett did an excellent job of weaving in a dose of reality while keeping the story hopeful and optimistic.

It’d be remiss of me to discuss Grave Phantoms without mentioning the supernatural storyline woven through the romance. When a ship crashes into the Magnussons’ pier and only a half dozen confused, amnesiac survivors are recovered, the mystery begins. And when Astrid starts having visions of the supernatural events that occurred onboard, the paranormal puzzle pieces start coming together in an interesting fashion. I loved watching the pieces fall into place as Astrid and Bo delve into the underground world of magic and greed. It’s a different sort of supernatural mystery than can be found in the first two Roaring Twenties books, but it’s intriguing nonetheless.

The Roaring Twenties series is wholly unique in its time, place, and characters, but these factors wouldn’t mean much without taking into account Jenn Bennett’s phenomenal writing. Each Roaring Twenties book has been snappy, smart, and beautifully written and Grave Phantoms is no exception. Fans of Bitter Spirits and Grim Shadows will be charmed by the supporting roles their favorite characters play and Ms. Bennett gives the expanding Magnusson clan a wonderfully satisfying happily ever after. I loved Grave Phantoms from beginning to end and I cannot wait to read Bo and Astrid’s story again!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.