Author: Jenn Bennett
Astrid Magnusson appears to have it all: money, privilege, independence… . The one thing she doesn’t have is the man she’s loved for years: Bo Yeung. With prejudice against Chinese immigrants a constant and pervasive obstacle, a life with him seems impossible. But, when a yacht that disappeared a year ago suddenly crashes into her family’s pier, and a mysterious relic puts Astrid in the crosshairs of a secret society, everything changes—and Astrid discovers that some things are worth defying all the odds for.
Yeung Bo-Sing has been in the employ of Winter Magnusson for a very long time, doing whatever was necessary for family who took him in, and make their bootlegging business a success. It’s a position he takes seriously, regardless of his ardent, if inopportune, desire for Astrid. It doesn’t help that, like her brothers, Astrid attracts trouble of the supernatural and lethal variety. But, if there’s ever been something he’s willing to give it all up for, it’s Astrid, and there’s nothing Bo won’t do to have her by his side.
Though Grave Phantoms follows the pattern set by Bitter Spirits and Grim Shadows, the first two novels in the series, with regards to the Magnusson family’s knack for falling into deadly situations, it is the romance unfolding between Bo and Astrid that dominates the entire narrative here. The suspenseful side of the story wasn’t quite as immediate, and therefore didn’t seem as well formed as in the previous novels as a result. Even so, there are plenty of shootouts, knife fights, and mysterious goings on to keep the momentum of the story moving at a nice pace while the main characters work towards their mutual resolution.
Historically, this story is both fun and educative, and Ms. Bennett seems to have gone to impressive lengths to research the time period in question. Set during the intersection of prohibition, the rise of flappers and the changing roles of women, and the ongoing discrimination against Chinese immigrants, Grave Phantoms incorporates several issues that haven’t been fully explored in this genre. The societal implications of a romance like Astrid and Bo’s are extensive, and I appreciated their journey a great deal.
My favorite part of Grave Phantoms is undoubtedly the dialog and other interactions of the returning characters, especially those of Astrid and Bo. Despite the prejudice he faces on a daily basis, Bo is remarkably (and delightfully) open-minded when uttering his own maledictions. Even when they’re not actually speaking, Astrid and Bo effortlessly slip into a sort of antagonistic telepathy that is borne of such a soul-deep familiarity, it can only be true love. Some of the best banter of the series came from several of Astrid and Bo’s more stressful exchanges in this story, making these moments the ones I enjoyed the most.
As a suspense, I thought that Grave Phantoms wasn’t quite as strong as its predecessors in the series, even though I enjoyed seeing the returning characters who helped Astrid and Bo along the way. Sometimes awkward, yet enormously sexy and romantic, this story left no doubt that the two were destined for one another, while never glossing over the difficulties waiting for them in the outside world. Incorporating several things that I enjoy in stories of this nature, the Roaring Twenties series has been a lot of fun to read, and Grave Phantoms is as fine an ending as I could have hoped for.
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.
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Series: Roaring Twenties #3
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Format(s): paperback (320 pages), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Grave Phantoms (Roaring Twenties #3)