Monday, August 11, 2008

Make like Nike and "Just do it."

When Jackie Kessler posted in Fangs, Fur, and Fey offering up author copies of Hotter Than Hell for bloggers, I jumped at the chance to get a copy. A free book from a new-to-me writer, sent by the author herself? Hell, yeah! Plus, I saw this as step toward perhaps being an official reviewer, as opposed to being any old opinionated reader with internet access.

I had no idea that it would become a part of the psychological jumble that keeps me a would-be novelist.

Kessler sent the book immediately, and jumped right into reading. Only the review writing began and ended in my own mind. I thought about the good, the bad, and the particularly interesting bits, but they never seemed to make it onto the screen. I spew my opinions all the time; this shouldn't be so hard!

Leaving my psyche alone for a bit, I recommend the book. The bad news is that it's the third in the series. The good news is that I was able to follow it without reading the first two, which are written from the point of view of our narrator's former lover.

The problems with book reviews is that there's no way of knowing if someone has similar tastes. I grew up on "classic" fantasy and discovered urban fantasy decades ago, falling in love with stories by Emma Bull, Charles de Lint, Pamela Dean and so on. For readers like me, urban fantasy didn't begin with Laurell K. Hamilton (I actually read a discussion where an author pretty much wrote that; I only recently stopped twitching), though we might point to her middle books to trace the time when UF came smashing headlong into paranormal adventure, some how got attached to paranormal romance, and then publishers seemed to decide it was all one big thing.

While that works fine for the publishers, the Internet is littered with uf fans writing, Remember when world building and supernatural elements were much more than window dressing for an impossible relationship that always seems to work out in the end? And paranormal romance readers examine perfectly satisfying stories and wondering why there wasn't enough emphasis on the relationship and what's with the (logical based on everything that's come before) ending.

Hotter than Hell is one of those books that can please readers from both sides of the bookstore isle.

Daunaun is an incubus--a bad guy by default, capturing souls slated for Hell now before they can repent later. It's fun getting the action from his point of view, rather than seeing him through the eyes of his victims. The sex is hot and when he means vulva, he says vulva. There's a lot to enjoy here.

That doesn't mean that the story is perfect. There are three main mysteries in the book: one that is more a curiosity than not, and two that directly effect whether Daun lives or dies. Demons attack and he wonders why in the sort of way that one might wonder why the sky is blue. OK, so maybe he prioritizes differently than I do (me, I'd worry about the guy who's trying to kill me today before I worried about the task that, failing it, might kill me in three days). But getting over that, the answer to the other mystery is so clear to the reader that you start to wonder what the hell is wrong with the narrator. How can he possibly experience the same clues he's relating and not finding that one and one make two?

There were times when that seemed almost too annoying, but the story remained interesting, and the character's growth became a welcomed pay off. Thumbs stars out of 5...I've got to start my own rating system. Meanwhile, add this series to your To Be Read list.

(And I'll blog about my writing dysfunction in just a little bit.)

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