My Rating: Beach vacation (2.5/5)
I feel like I am missing something with Jenn Bennett’s prohibition era series. Everyone seems to love it, but for me, I could take it or leave it. The series has an interesting concept, but as with the previous book, I’m left feeling ambivalent.
Grim Shadows features the younger brother of the hero from book one. Lowe Magnusson is an archaeologist who’s determined to make a name for himself outside of his brother, Winter’s, bootlegging operation. It’s not because he’s opposed to the criminal way of life, Lowe’s a con artist himself; what he wants is independence. How selling forgeries of ancient antiquities accomplishes that goal, I’m not sure, but to each his own.
Lowe meets curator, Hadley Bacall, after he acquires an ancient artifact that her father wants. Lowe’s willing to make a deal, but of course he’s also planning on swindling the Bacall’s at the same time. What he doesn’t count of is the true power of the artifact or his own reaction to the seemingly cool curator. How can he give Hadley a forgery when he’s falling in love with her? There were elements of Grim Shadows that I liked. The romance had a lot of promise. I liked the fact that Hadley was such a hesitant young woman. Part of it was because of her “curse”, but part of it was just her personality. At first, Hadley seems like such as sad and lonely creature, but when she meets Lowe she finally starts to open up and get more comfortable in her own skin. I liked this aspect of the story. Not every heroine needs to be super confident and it was appreciated that Hadley was not always sure of herself. For me, Hadley was, by far, the more interesting character. I was always wondering why she was the way she was; I was always interested in her thought processes. As for Lowe, I just wasn’t as interested.
Lowe was a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. This was fun and he contrasted Hadley well, but then I got to a point where I felt that a complication was thrown in simply to make him more interesting. At one point, we learn that Lowe had a brief affair with his best friend’s wife, who has since died, and to top it off, their kid just might be his. This seemed to come out of no where! He interacted with said kid several of times but there was never one mention of this and for something so significant, it seemed like the revelation should have come sooner, at least for readers, and I think it would have made Lowe a stronger character. From my point of view, this “secret child” trope seemed tossed in and made me think of Lowe as a artificial character and less developed than Hadley.
While the plot was interesting, generally I’m reading a book for the characters and their interactions, and there was just something keeping me back from really enjoying Grim Shadows. The romance was almost there, but in the end, I just felt “meh” about the relationship between Lowe and Hadley. I think part of it is also the fact that Lowe, and his brother from Bitter Spirits, are both essentially criminals. For whatever reason, this bugs me. It irked me in book one, and I irked me in Grim Shadows. Sometimes these criminal character works in books, and in Grim Shadows and Bitter Spirits, it just didn’t, at least for me. The world is interesting, it’s the characters that make me disinterested.
No similar reads this time around. I didn’t love this book, so I’m not really a good choice to recommend similar titles.