Reviewed by Mandi
I recently read Bitter Spirits, the first book in this series and was seriously impressed. I had put it off because it was set in the twenties and had paranormal elements and for whatever reason that didn’t appeal to me. But after seeing so many positive reviews, I read it and loved it and was exited to pick up Grim Shadows. I liked this book, not quite as much as Bitter Spirits though.
Lowe Magnusson (Winter’s brother from Bitter Spirits) is an Archaeologist who has spent the past nine months in Egypt. He discovered and smuggled out an amulet that many have been searching for. Hoping to sell it to the highest bidder to pay off some serious debt he has, Lowe keeps the amulet on his body as he travels back home to San Francisco. Already having a buyer lined up back home, he agrees to meet the buyer’s daughter at a train station during his trip, so she can verify he has it.
Hadley Bacall is a curator who desperately wants her father’s job as museum director when he retires. She meets Lowe during his journey home and indeed verifies that the amulet he is carrying is the real deal. Hadley can sense certain objects and can feel the power radiating from the amulet. But this is not the only supernatural thing that she carries. When she gets angry and her emotions get out of control, specters come out of the ground and attack whatever thing or person her anger is directed toward. So when Lowe and Hadley meet with some thugs who have been following Lowe and they start to do them harm, the specters come out (no one else can see them but Hadley) and suitcases on the train start flying everywhere.
Needless to say, Lowe and Hadley don’t get along very well when they first meet, but they are thrust together back in San Franciso when they realize they can mutually help each other. Hadely wants her father’s position, which has been promised to Lowe, and Lowe needs to find four crossbars that belong with the amulet to get his full payment. Hadley’s dead mother has hidden these crossbars and Hadley promises to help search for them if Lowe can convince her father to give her his position.
Lowe and Hadley’s relationship is really cute when they first meet. Cute because Hadley does not trust Lowe and Lowe can’t stop staring at her butt. He is a charmer, a scoundrel, and so very, very sexy – and he knows it. He knows his smile and easy lies off his tongue can get him out of most situations. Hadley is more serious and a bit cold, and Lowe’s charms don’t always work on her. So of course, Lowe then just wants to pursue her more because she is a challenge.
While at times I think the action and adventure in this book overshadows the romance, the action and adventure are still fun. We get a grand treasure map type story with lots of supernatural things and creatures to keep it exciting. It’s much more paranormal than the first book in my opinion.
Besides starting to trust Lowe, Hadley has issues with being touched that they have to overcome before their physical relationship can take that next step. She is quite open about not being touched and why she has this issue, so Lowe proceeds with caution.
By all accounts I liked this book but I still feel like there is a ‘but’ I need to talk about. When I finished I sat for a few minutes not 100% satisfied. There is one particular event towards the end that upset me a lot. I felt it was an unecessary death that just made me overall sad. Lowe is a swindler – he has replicas of things he has discovered made so he can sell the items more than once. I like that he has this flaw (among other things) yet I think I needed Hadley to come to terms with this more. She gets upset by it, yet I think she only comes around because she feels sorry for Lowe for something else that happens in this book. I guess I just needed a little more time at the end to believe Lowe and Hadley are compatible with each other and that she fully accepts Lowe.
All that being said, I love this author’s voice and the style of her books. They are fun, funny, action-packed with great sexual tension. Really well done world and characters. Can’t wait for Bo (oh I love me some Bo) and Astrid’s book next year!!