Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: love it
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…
Welcome to the Roaring Twenties, a turbulent period of time. Where alcohol is prohibited by the government, but of course it flows even more abundant now it is illegal. Lots of people are making a decent to great living out of it, from brewing it, to smuggling it into the country and to selling it in the hotels and nightclubs all over the country. But this story takes place in San Francisco.
Aida Palmer is a spirit medium, and a real one at that. Her abilities are not a scam, and she is becoming successful. She has a nice gig at the nightclub/speakeasy Gris-Gris, and a nice apartment in Chinatown, over a Chinese restaurant. The book starts when Aida is asked to come in immediately on her night of by the owner, Velma Toussaint. Aida really likes Velma, who has powers of her own. She is a sorceress, and practices hoodoo. She is also a very successful business owner.
As it happens, one of the towns top three bootleggers has stumbled into the club, asking Velma for help. He has been cursed by a stranger, and been poisoned, and now suddenly he is seeing ghosts, they even follow him around. So while Velma starts preparing a very nasty antidote when she has finally found out what the poison and the curse are, Aida needs to take care of the ghost of the dead prostitute. Winter Magnusson is a bit delirious from the poison, but he takes an immediate interest in Aida, as she is freckled all over, and he just has a fondness for that. And Aida in turn is taken by this giant of a man as well, hardly noticing the scar on his face. Especially when Winter has to take an ice bath, and she sees him naked, hold up by his aide and one of the clubs’ bouncers. Aida is not a shy virgin, but she is also not used to so much naked manly splendour.
After the cure, Winter still needs Aida’s help with the ghost in his office, and to find out who cursed him, and why. His own man, Bo, is send into Chinatown to find out who could be behind the attack, perhaps one of the tongs want to take over his share of the bootlegging action, but they are usually more openly attacking. And he has a good working relationship with most of the tongleaders.
And so Winter and Aida start working together to find out what happens, both are attracted to the other, and both are afraid to act upon it. Winter thinks his scars are a deterrent, and Aida has been warned away from love and relationships by her dead brother. Aida also doesn’t want to risk her career by becoming Winter’s mistress, but a short affair would be all right. Winter wants more, but after his disastrous first marriage, he is not willing to take that plunge again. The attacks are increasing, and not only Winter is the target, so is Aida, when her room is burned down with her inside, drugged with laudanum…
This book is amazing, I was glued to the pages, not wanting to go to bed, I just had to know what would happen on the next page. And so, instead of reading just a few chapters on a Sunday evening, I stayed up way too late to finish the book. It is that good.
I loved Aida for her resourcefulness, and her independence. She has built a career for herself, after losing everyone she loved time and again. Now she is all alone but she doesn’t give up. Aida lives in the moment, but she does safe and plan for the future. Having an affair with Winter is everything she ever wanted from a man and more, but she just can’t give up her career. What if he gets tired of her?
Winter is not used to a woman who wants nothing from him, but himself. She is not desperate for money or companionship, she just likes him for who he is. And he never thought he would like talking with her out of bed either, but he does. After the accident that scarred him and killed his parents and wife, he has become very careful and protective of his younger sister. His mistakes haunt him still, but Aida helps him see the truth behind him, and helps him to relax.
The romance was slow but went to truly sizzling when they became lovers, but the plot itself, the storytelling, the world building, that was what kept my interest so high. The secondary characters, the intrigue, the world of Chinatown and the tongs, bootlegging, it all was fascinating to read about it. Yes, there was violence and murder and real tidbids of history. There are actionscenes and humor and lovescenes and ghosts, all interwoven into one great story.
I can keep gushing an hour longer I guess, but I will just tell you to buy the book! I can’t believe you will be disappointed in it. I for one can’t wait for the next book to be written, but I know it will be a very long wait as I read this one so early.
And for all you zombie lovers out there, it has some kind of zombie as well ;)
© 2013 Reviews by Aurian