I got this one a wee bit early because I won it in a contest. That bi– nice friend of mine Jaci kept throwing it in my face that she had an ARC and how great the book was. I don’t like her much. But Jackie Kessler is one of those fantastic people who clearly doesn’t share my phobia of the post office and she sent out my book the very next day. And I started reading it the day it was delivered into my hot little hands. Hell’s Belle’s releases in trade paperback format from Zebra next week, so I’m going to put Jackie out of her misery and post my review now:

The blurb:

Hell on Earth starts here…

Jezebel’s not your average exotic dancer. For one thing, she’s a 4,000-year-old succubus. For another, she’s on the run from Hell (which isn’t easy to do in high heels). Hiding on the mortal coil as a human doesn’t protect her from muggers, lactose intolerance…or having feelings for Paul Hamilton, a man haunted by his past. Demons are closing in, which is enough to make Jezebel shiver in her G-string. But it’s her love for Paul that’s going to have deadly consequences. (Humans, she laments, really should come with instruction manuals.)

What didn’t work for me (I’m starting with this first): There were two things that didn’t work for me in this book, both have been mentioned elsewhere in other reviews. First, May said: At some points, Jezebel’s voice got on my nerves. Not her, since she didn’t do anything TSTL, just her voice. Yes. I mentioned this in the comments of May’s review, but there were times that Jezebel’s voice got on my nerves. I actually thought her voice was a little inconsistent, and I’m not sure if it was intentionally done or not. At the beginning and through much of the book, Jezebel has a very strong, slightly caustic voice that really works for her and makes you like her, but at times, Jezebel reverts to this…bubbly, rather vapid voice, where she uses “sweetie” incessantly and made me want to throw things (not the book because I really wanted to see how it ended) because it seemed unnecessary and a little irritating to me. I noted that more than a few of the characters used pet names for people “sweetie, love, babes” and as a voice distinguisher for one character, I think that works, but when you have multiple characters doing this, it’s not so cute anymore.

The second thing is something that Jane also mentioned and is slightly spoilerish, I think, so stop reading here if you hate even the smallest of spoilers: I have to confess that I am still not entirely sold as to who Jezebel’s match is. Truly, this is where I was puzzled. Jezebel is this incredibly strong female lead character. As such, you would think she demands an equally strong love interest. But in fact, I was disappointed in the “hero’s” lack of depth. I felt that I could pull him right out of the book and insert any male character and the hero wouldn’t be missed because there was nothing about him that made him stand out. I found him to be…flat and boring. If Jackie had killed him off at the end of the book, that wouldn’t have shocked me or upset me. In my mind, he was (is) a disposable character who didn’t bring anything to his role as love interest, other than the obvious 😉 But in contrast, Jackie created a whole cast of secondary characters, male and female, who have more life and who are more developed and well-rounded than Paul. I can only surmise that he’s not intended to be Jezebel’s final mate because he does seem so dispensable. But I think, in this area, Jackie has cheated her book, Jezebel, and her readers by setting them up to be okay with whatever might occur. Of course, I like a little emotional trauma in my books, lol (thus why I enjoy Lilith Saintcrow’s Dante Valentine books).

What worked for me: Though I rather thoroughly detailed what didn’t work for me, I don’t want anyone to think that I didn’t like the book, because I did. It’s easier to say exactly what didn’t work (it’s always easier to say this in a review) in a way that makes it clear for other readers, but what works is sometimes so visceral that it’s not as simple to put into words. I said above that Jezebel is a strong characters–she is. She’s a succubus, she loves being a succubus and she’s not happy about her current role. She revels in her sensuality, loves her “job” (past and present) and likes being a girl. What’s not to like about that? Add in some interesting details about Hell and demons and you’ve got a fun book. And one that starts strong, which we all know I love. Plus, like I mentioned earlier, I thought there was a cast of secondary characters who were quite fun, some of whom I wouldn’t doubt we’ll see more of in the next book!

Overall: Despite the flaws that I felt were there, I still think this book has a lot to recommend and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy the follow-up book, The Road to Hell.

You can visit Jackie at her blog or her website. You can buy Hell’s Belle’s in bookstores next week or pre-order it here or here.

Sidenote, the next book to watch featuring succubus is Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead releasing in March from Kensington. And can someone (*cough*JackieIknowyou’rereadingthis*cough*) share any information about Night Life by Caitlin Kettridge? I saw her name on the sidebar of the blog shared by what appears to be a character (Luna) from her book, as well as Jezebel and Georgina from Jackie and Richelle’s books respectivly, but very little information is readily available since Caitlin seems to have only a live journal, no website. Tsk tsk 😉

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