Roaring Twenties #3
By Jenn Bennett
Author’s Website: http://www.jennbennett.net
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
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. (Goodreads)
Grave Phantoms is the third, and final, book in the Roaring Twenties series in which we read the youngest Magnusson’s love story. Astrid is a freshman in college whose feisty spirit gets her into a bit of trouble. She has always relied on her bootlegging brother Winter’s right-hand man Bo for friendship and protection, but she has been secretly in love with him for a couple of years. In an effort to get him out of her system and put some space between them, she attends school in Los Angeles but is looking forward to Christmas break at home. In fact, she is struggling with the idea of returning for the spring term. Bo has just about driven himself crazy wanting Astrid but keeps his feelings hidden out of respect and thanks for all that Winter has done for him. Bo owes everything to Winter – his home, education, occupation, and a sense of family. To make matters even more complicated, Bo is Chinese, and there are few places in San Francisco where they can be seen together, and it is illegal for them to marry.
Despite his efforts to avoid Astrid, the pair is thrown together when a yacht crashes into the family’s pier during a storm. The passengers are disoriented and have no memories of their time on the yacht which disappeared a year ago. Bo and Astrid find the interior of the yacht trashed and after Astrid touches a turquoise idol found on the boat, she begins to have visions of a sacrificial ritual. The two embark on a treacherous adventure in an attempt to figure out what happened on the boat, and their lives are endangered when Max, one of the yacht’s passengers, tries to get the idol back from them. In the midst of their trials, they cannot help but give into their feelings for each other, and this could prove to be the most perilous situation of all.
Grave Phantoms is overflowing with adventure, forbidden love, Aztec lore, pirate’s booty, a secret society, dark magic, and the clandestine splendor of the Prohibition era. I did not think the story was quite as strong as the others in the series, but it was engrossingly entertaining. I could not help but root for Bo and Astrid to get their happy ending. I found the Chinese folklore and culture added color and depth to the story, and the laws and attitudes concerning interracial couples fascinating and heartbreaking. Though Astrid and Bo are quite young at eighteen and twenty years of age, I consider this to be a full on adult romance, and the sex scenes reinforce that. Their love and passion for one another are palpable, but Bo’s need to be in control in the bedroom, though understandable considering his lower societal standing, left a bad taste in my mouth. This is, however, a matter of my personal taste and did not take away from the story. After all, every couple is different. The paranormal component of the story was suitably mysterious and by the end of the book made sense.
I did enjoy Grave Phantoms and recommend it to fans of the Roaring Twenties series, the 1920’s setting, those who like a hint of the paranormal and strong leading characters.