Joint Review: Grim Shadows (Roaring 20s #2) by Jenn Bennett

grim shadows by jenn bennettWhere did you get the book: E-arc from publisher
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: Out now

It’s the Roaring Twenties in foggy San Francisco. Prohibition is on, inhibitions are low, and dark magic is rolling into town…

Archaeologist Lowe Magnusson is packing something everyone wants. The djed amulet, a priceless Egyptian artifact, will fetch Lowe a hefty paycheck from one of San Francisco’s wealthiest. But when the handsome Swede runs into his patron’s uptight daughter, what he once considered easy money becomes maddeningly complicated…

Cursed with deadly spirits as her constant companions, curator Hadley Bacall must keep calm to hold her dangerous specters at bay and prevent them from lashing out at anything—or anyone. Trouble is, Lowe is driving her crazy, but her father needs the artifact he’s transporting. While Hadley can feel the amulet’s power, she can’t fathom the destruction—or the desire—it’s about to stir up.

*Blurb taken from Goodreads*

Has: I have been eagerly awaiting for GRIM SHADOWS which is a wonderful and enjoyable followup to Jenn Bennett’s zany and fast pace historical romance series, set in the roaring twenties. Lowe, who has returned from an excavation trip in Egypt has returned with an artifact which Hadley’s father is in need to remove a dark curse which is endangering his life and of his daughter. However, things don’t really come to plan when Lowe has his own plans for that artifact but can’t turn down a deal to help hunt down the missing pieces which have been hidden across the city. He also did not count on that he would fall hard for the reserved Hadley who is not susceptible to his charms.

Straight up from the first page, the opening scenes of GRIM SHADOWS was exciting, pacey and funny. Lowe’s first impression was great and I loved how charming and funny he was towards Hadley which had me laughing out loud several times because her reaction was hilarious. I also liked that he was such a rogue which is one of my favourite type of heroes, and was quick on his feet with his wit to out-talk his way in several sticky predicaments. I also loved how the action kick-started from the get-go which sets off the tone of the story.

Marlene: There’s some kind of symmetry. When I read the first book the utterly fantastic Bitter Spirits, we were watching the first season of the Miss Fisher Mysteries, which is also set in the Roaring 20s. They went perfectly together. Now that Grim Shadows is here, I have season two. I have high hopes that when we get Grave Phantoms (book 3) that I might get word that Miss Fisher has a third season commissioned too.

But as usual, I digress. The shadows in Grim Shadows may be grim indeed at times, but the story definitely is not. For one thing, Lowe Magnussen never seems to take anything grim to heart, no matter how bad things get or how many lies he has to tell to sweet-talk his way out of trouble. But he’s a wonderful hero because he really does have a caring heart under all his bluster.

Has: I love love love Lowe! He was just wonderful and his roguish nature was entertaining and funny especially when he would manage to outwit people around him. The opening scenes in the book, sums him up perfectly when Hadley and Lowe escaping goons who are hired to get the amulet he found in a dig in Egypt. It was pretty funny after Hadley’s dress is torn and he’s admiring her underwear and then manages to sweet talk the ticket-master into giving them 1st class seats on the train they escaped on. Hadley’s reaction towards him was also hilarious and I really loved the tone of the romance between them because she was so reserved and he was the total opposite and it was just fabulous to see them clashing. Especially when Lowe was beginning to fall hard for Hadley. I also liked the fact, that their romance was not predictable, and that their first kiss was not full of fire-works like other romances. It certainly put a dent in Lowe’s ego and added an interesting aspect to their development to their relationship.

Marlene: Hadley and Lowe make a terrific pair! He’s used to charming his way out of absolutely everything, and she seems totally conservative and buttoned up, at least on the outside. Part of what I loved in those opening scenes was the way that their styles, their entire approach to the world, was completely opposite. And yet at the same time, while Hadley’s outward appearance is utterly reserved, underneath her downright funerary outer clothes she is wearing absolutely sybaritic undies. She’s a contradiction, and a total enigma to Lowe.

Lowe also hides his intelligence, so at first she doesn’t see that he is every bit as smart as she has to prove herself to be. But he has such a streak of daring (and idiocy) having cheated a gangster who is even more dangerous than his big brother Winter. Lowe is always sure he can create an even bigger scheme to get himself out of his current trouble. But in Hadley he’s met his match; someone who can’t bear to let him continue his string of lies and half-truths.

Has: Both Lowe and Hadley complimented each other really well, and their quest to find the four hidden pieces for the amulet, illustrated that they were a great team. I loved their snappy and sharp dialogue when they were arguing and discussing about their quest which really sparkled with their chemistry.

The main plot of the treasure hunt was tightly paced and I loved the premise of Hadley and Lowe hunting and tracking down these urns, which held the missing pieces all across San Francisco so that her father can break this curse that is slowly killing him. And like the first book, GRIM SHADOWS also has elements of the supernatural, which I found much more chilling, with ghostly wraiths that feed on dark emotions and cause havoc and other paranormal beings, added to the vibrant but eerie atmosphere of the series.

Marlene: You’re absolutely right. Hadley and Lowe make a great team. The series has just the right amount of eerie/creepy without going over the top into horror, or even really paranormal romance. Seances and belief in spiritualism was part of the 1920s. It may be part of the setup from the first book, but this entire series just exudes the atmosphere of the Roaring 20’s with every page. (Some of this may be because Lowe’s brother Winter is a rich bootlegger because of Prohibition).

Lowe doesn’t want to be in his brother’s shadow, but is certainly willing to use his family’s reputation when it suits him.

But all the spiritualist trappings, and belief that spells and voodoo can actually work, fit perfectly into both the 1920’s setting and the Egyptology craze that was still going on. The search for the amulet made a terrific meld of influences.

Has: Yes! This is one of the strongest elements of what makes this series so enjoyable and different because it really feels authentic and as a reader you are immersed into that tone and ambiance of the 1920’s.

Another aspect, I really liked about this book, is that of the supporting cast of characters, Lowe’s family appear and just as fun and colourful as they were in the first book. But I also liked that there was a vulnerability factor with the subplot concerning Lowe’s character and his relationship with his friend, Adam and his daughter Stella. How this story-line developed was poignant and bittersweet especially towards the end although I wished there was more time expanding on the aftermath of what happened with the climax of the book. But I liked how Jenn Bennett explored themes of betrayal and forgiveness which are major element in this book but it certainly added layers to the characters which made them more multi-faceted.

Marlene: I agree absolutely about the subplot with Adam and Stella, and how it looped around to the situation between Hadley’s parents. Another layer of the story concerns the themes of secrets and scars. All of the main characters in this series so far have scars of some kind that make them believe that they are not worthy of love. Winter’s eye, Aida’s freckles, Lowe’s missing finger, Hadley’s angry ghosts. None of these people are physically perfect or unblemished, and it makes them all vulnerable, and, as you said, multi-faceted.

I was also glad to see Winter and Aida happy, and to get a little glimpse into what’s happening with Astrid and Bo. The next book is their story, and I can wait to find out what’s going on and what hurdles they will face!

Has: GRIM SHADOWS was a delightful and entertaining follow-up to BITTER SPIRITS. I loved the romance which had one of the best heroes I’ve read in a long while and a heroine who is just perfect for him! The dialogue which just snaps and sizzles on the page helped to keep the tension between Hadley and Lowe sizzling as well as being very humorous, and I adored the setting which I really hope more historicals get set during this vibrant era. Overall, I can’t say enough good things about this series because it is firmly one of the best enjoyable and sexy as well memorable paranormal romance series I’ve ever read!

I give GRIM SHADOWS an A-

Marlene: For a great time, visit San Francisco in the Roaring 20s with Bitter Spirits (reviewed here) and Grim Shadows. There’s something about the snappy dialog and the sizzling chemistry that absolutely oozes the spirit of the era. Lowe and Hadley, (like Winter and Aida before them) are a perfect blend of opposites attract and multi-layered romantic sparks. And the story contains more than enough action, adventure and deadly danger to make every page turn a treat!

I also give Grim Shadows a very non-grim A-

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