Welcome back to another hot day on the Fire and Ice Tour! Before we get to the fun, be sure to check out these fantastic bloggers and their steamy posts:
Candace@Candace's Book Blog:Brenda Hiatt: Starstruck Series
Fire and Ice Day #3 brings an exciting historical tale with a dash of paranormal. Jenn Bennett's Bitter Spirits whisks us back to San Francisco in 1927. It is the era of glitzy flapper girls, speak easies, prohibition and bootleggers. I loved immersing back in this era and meeting Aida Palmer a talented seer who sees ghosts and Winter Magnusson, the wealthy bootlegger. This book has mystery, romance, and plenty of paranormal. I thought it was fantastic! Highly recommend if you are looking for a great new historical, paranormal romance series. I am lucky enough to have Jenn Bennett stopping by today to share her thoughts on creating romantic heroes. So sit back and meet Jenn and her book boys.
Jenn Bennett writes the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series for Pocket Books and the Roaring Twenties historical paranormal romance series for Berkley. Born in Germany, she’s lived and traveled extensively throughout Europe, the U.S., and the Far East. She currently lives near Atlanta with one husband and two very bad pugs. You can stalk Jenn on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Goodreads.
Here is Jenn.....
I often see other romance authors name-checking celebrities who’ve inspired their heroes. Underwear models. Sports stars. Actors. Best I can tell, half of all romance books were written while staring at photographs of either David Gandy or Joe Manganiello. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! It’s just that readers almost never picture the hero as the author did. And that’s the beauty of reading. The interpretation. An author sketches a character, but the reader fills in the color.
Take the hero of my Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series, Lon Butler, for example. When my heroine, Cady, meets him for the first time, she describes him thusly:
“Tall and lean, the man looked to be in his forties. Wavy, light brown hair fell to the tops of his shoulders and was neatly tucked behind his ears. A slender mustache trailed around his mouth and down his chin, matching the patch of hair below the center of his bottom lip. He reminded me of a pirate. A very attractive one.”
I didn’t have one person in mind when I created Lon’s outer appearance. On hindsight, if pressed, I suppose I’d say he was one part Josh Holloway, one part Johnny Depp, and one part Timothy Olyphant.
None of these men, however, were at the forefront of my thoughts when I was writing. Lon was just…Lon. And when the first Arcadia book came out, I was surprised that readers saw him so wildly differently than I did. Some anti-facial-hair readers pretended he was clean cut. Others saw him with a blond mustache—which, for the record, I really don’t understand. But the point is, when you read Lon, he’s all yours. You can imagine him however you’d like.
When it came to writing the hero of my first 1920s paranormal romance, Winter Magnusson, I had an even harder time attaching a real person to the vision I had in my head. Winter is a dark-haired Swedish immigrant (not all Swedes are blond, you know), several inches over six feet tall and built like a brick wall. My Pinterest board for Winter contains photographs of young Marlon Brando, Gary Cooper, and Rudolph Valentino, but none of these quite fit. One reader suggested a more modern casting for Winter in the actor Tom Hardy, and who am I to argue with that?
Next year, my first young adult book will be released. It’s a contemporary romance, so I expect folks will have a lot of strong ideas about how the hero looks. Frankly, I can’t wait to see him through readers’ eyes. And in the meantime, the reader in me will be fantasy-casting other authors’ heroes, dreamily matching them up to real people the author never envisioned. I will do my best not to imagine any of them as David Gandy.
Please note: all celebrity photos are courtesy of wikimedia commons. Click on photos for credits.
A huge thanks to Jenn for stopping by today and sharing her thoughts. What do you all think, do you picture actors when reading? I don't tend to I just let my imagination run wild. I am looking forward to your YA Book, Jenn!
I loved this little book,and I wanted to be sure to give one of your an opportunity to win this book. So I am offering to one lucky winner a chance to win Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett. This is open Internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to you. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter after reading the Contest Policies. Good Luck!
Here is my review:
Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett
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…
Mass Market Paperback, 317 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Berkley Sensation
Four stars: A sexy, ghostly romp through San Francisco in the roaring twenties!
Aida takes in a deep breath as she heads toward Velma's office. Velma is the boss of the Gris Gris club. Aida hopes that she hasn't been summoned on a complaint from her latest show. When Aida enters the office, she encounters a giant of a man with a long, disfiguring scar across his eye. Next to him is the ghost of a Chinese woman, hovering silently. Winter Magnusson is one of the San Francisco's wealthiest and most successful bootleggers. He has sought out the help of Madam Vera. Not only is he being haunted, but someone seems to have poisoned him with a nasty curse. Aida finds herself fiercely drawn to this man despite his scars. Winter needs her to exorcise the ghost, which isn't a problem for Vera as she is a talented seer. What Aida doesn't realize is that this chance encounter will lead her into a deadly ghostly mystery. Can Aida get to the bottom of the haunting?
What I Liked:
- This is my first encounter with a Jenn Bennett novel, and I can say it won't be my last. I throughly enjoyed Ms. Bennett's terrific characters, exciting paranormal mystery and excellent world building. I was quickly swept back into San Francisco in 1927. I loved the setting of this one, and Ms. Bennett does an excellent job of bringing this fascinating era alive.
- I was immediately drawn to the main characters, Aida and Winter. I liked that they were not drop dead gorgeous. Aida is covered in freckles from head to toe and Winter has his scars, but neither sees the others flaws as unattractive. In fact, they are drawn to each other because of their imperfections. Winter at first meeting, immediately starts fantasizing about those freckles. Both characters are also independent, stubborn, and industrious. Winter built a successful bootlegging empire, while Aida scrimped and saved and took care of herself while earning a living as a seer. I admired Aida's independent spirit. When the two come together there are some fierce sparks of attraction. The second characters are just as appealing, and I enjoyed getting to know all of them.
- The romance is dynamite. It starts with an intense attraction that increases in temperature with each meeting until it explodes into fiery passion. I liked that it isn't one of those romances based all on emotion and love, lust plays a big role as well. There are no bones about it, the romance starts out as a lustful attraction. Winter even proposes that the two have a torrid sexual affair. I appreciated that Aida had a healthy sexual appetite and that she wasn't afraid to show it. As the story progresses, the romance builds and becomes so much more. The two are stubborn, and they butt heads plenty of times before they come to their senses. I thought it was fun and realistic, and I liked watching the two grow as a couple.
- The era and setting are terrific. Ms. Bennett does an exceptional job of recreating San Francisco in the roaring twenties. I liked learning more about the history of this great city and exploring the Chinese culture that was alive and well in the city. In fact, the majority of the story centers in Chinatown. I loved this aspect. Bo, Winter's Chinese hired man, was one of my favorite characters!
- The mystery interweaves perfectly with the romance and I thought they balanced each other out well. The mystery is suspenseful and it held my attention throughout. I was surprised at the final reveal as to who was behind the attacks.
- I loved the paranormal aspects from ghosts to curses and necromancers. Everything was exciting and fresh!
- I appreciated that everything draws to a neat and satisfying conclusion with no loose ends. However, there is a new tantalizing thread laid down for the next story which will be a companion novel to this one. I love companion novels, and I can't wait to dive in to book two!
And The Not So Much:
- I was intrigued by Aida's seer abilities, but I was a bit disappointed that she didn't utilize them a bit more. In the beginning, she uses them much more than at the end of the story. I wished that I could have spent a bit more time watching her use her talents during her show. I thought her abilities were fascinating, and I was sad that they faded out in the second half.
- It was never clear how the villain knew which ghosts to use to haunt Winter. How did he know to call upon those particular ghosts? Was there an informant or did he use certain talents? I was especially curious since one of the ghosts was murdered with no witnesses around other than the two who killed him. I was also left wondering about the ghost haunting Winter's study. Was that part of the case or just a random haunting?
- The sex scenes are explicit and heated, and they do tend to get to be a bit much after awhile. I am a reader that thinks less is more when it comes to sex scenes. If you are a big romance reader, I am sure you will love it, but if you are like me, you may find yourself skimming.
- The ending moves incredibly quick, and I would have liked the final confrontation scene with the villain to be a bit longer. Not a big issue, but in comparison with the sex, the final battle is over in the blink of an eye. I was pleased, though with the Epilogue.
Bitter Spirits is a highly seductive romp through the streets of San Francisco in 1927. Sit back and enjoy the fashion, the cars and the glitz and glamour as well as the secretive and dangerous world of the bootleggers. This is a paranormal romance that delivers plenty of heat and passion with a good solid mystery. If you are looking for a fun, historical paranormal tale with lots of sizzle, this is a sure bet!
"His words were wrapped inside a deep, grand voice---the voice of a stage actor, dramatic and big and velvety. It was a voice that could probably talk you into doing anything."
"Much like looking into the sun during an eclipse, staring at her breasts would only lead to harm, so he quickly shifted his gaze upward."
"Bo managed to stay quiet for all of five seconds. "Is she never-want-to-see-you-again angry, or just temporarily angry?"
"And I tried to forget your existence, believe me. I tried very hard. I made it my top priority. All I could think about was how I was trying not to think about you."
"I live for the moment. I enjoy what I have, not what I've lost. Not what I don't have yet."
I purchased a copy of this book. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
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See you Wednesday for a visit with Heather Hildenbrand!