A Roaring Twenties Novel, Book #2
By Jenn Bennett
ISBN# 978- 0425269589
Author’s website: http://www.jennbennett.net/
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
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.
I am a mystery/thriller/historical fiction kind of girl and do not read many romance novels, but I quite enjoyed Grim Shadows. It first caught my attention because it combines several things I find interesting: Egyptology, a historical setting (in this case 1920’s San Francisco), a bit of a mystery, and a paranormal element just to stir it up a little. It does follow the typical romance formula of opposites attract despite their best efforts to hate each other, they fall in love, something tears them apart, and then they decide they cannot live without each other. Oh, but what an entertaining tale to be told!
The story opens with a knife fight and gun chase through a moving train, and it maintains a quick pace throughout. Lowe Mangnusson is a Swedish immigrant, trying to make a name for himself as an archeologist. He is knowledgeable but also somewhat of a rake and con artist. He has found a piece of an Egyptian amulet, purported to open a door to the land of the dead, and he wants to sell it to the highest bidder. Archie Bacall wants to be that highest bidder, and he offers Lowe a job as his replacement and a substantial amount of money to find the other pieces of the amulet that his wife hid somewhere in the city before she died. Hadley is an ambitious, serious, aloof museum curator, and Archie’s daughter, who just wants to be taken seriously in her profession and replace her father when he retires as head of the antiquities department at the museum. But, she has a secret…specters haunt her and appear to wreak havoc when she is angry or upset. Lowe and Hadley strike a deal to work together to find the missing crossbars, trying to solve Hadley’s mother’s riddles and puzzles that will lead them to the hiding places, and the adventure begins a la National Treasure except with the addition of a griffin and a fiery, lion-headed giant that try to stop them. Danger and mayhem are their companions throughout the story.
Even with the adventure, this is a mostly character driven tale, and Ms. Bennett does a good job of drawing the engaging, flawed, likable hero and heroine that the reader roots for. However, they seem to be ahead of their time in their thinking, speaking, and actions, making it easy to read but not always feel authentic to period. The supporting characters are also interesting contrasts to Lowe and Hadley. I particularly like the twist involving Oliver’s role in the story. The paranormal aspect was handled well, no too contrived or unbelievable. I think weaving the Egyptian lore into the real world of the 1920’s made it more believable. To be honest, I could do without some of the “throbbing member” descriptions, but that’s just me. I am always more interested in what’s going on in the heart and mind, but the three or four sex scenes are, admittedly, pretty sexy. There is some adult language sprinkled throughout. I would definitely say this is an adult read.
This is the second book in a series, but I think it works just fine as a standalone novel. If you like your romance with a splash of adventure and some paranormal activity, this is a book for you. Recommended.