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Wednesday, 31 January 2007

'Hell's Belles' by Jackie Kessler

‘Hell’s Belles’ arrived in the post yesterday afternoon to my absolute delight. I opened the book at 10pm last night and stopped reading at 4.30 this morning. What does that tell you?

Jezebel is a demon on the run. She’s on Hell’s Most Wanted list and there’s a very attractive bounty on her head. So it isn’t any wonder that poor Jezebel is shaking in her hooves. Seeking refuge in the form of a human, she begins work as an exotic dancer (what else would a former Seducer do?) at the strip club ‘Belles‘. Though she dances for scores of men, she’s only thinking about one, the devilishly handsome and sexy Paul, haunted by a former love.

What a great book! For so many reasons.

The most significant being….I absolutely adored Jezebel. Finally, a heroine I could actually like.

I didn’t expect to like Jezebel. She’s a demon-turned-human, and all demons are evil. But what I found was a very endearing heroine, innocent to all the emotions of a human. She’s astounded to discover that as a human she is actually, well, nice. Constantly looking over her shoulder, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery (yes, I know that sounds clichéd but it’s true) and I was with her every step of the way cheering her on. It was so easy to empathise with Jezebel. laughed with her, I cried with her (real tears), I was afraid with her. And it’s been so long since I connected with a heroine like that, since I’ve truly verbally encouraged one to overcome all of her obstacles, and boy were there obstacles for Jezebel!

And what about her hero, Paul? Though there is not as much character development with Paul I still really liked his character. He was the perfect tit for Jezebel’s tat. I thought Paul was seriously sexy, and so sweet, and he treated Jezebel so well, just like a lady. I rooted for these two to get together, they’re so different but work so well together. Paul also had the whole ‘haunted past’ thing going on which I’m a sucker for in a hero. The secondary characters in ‘Hell’s Bells’ are so much fun. There’s Jezebel’s sleazy boss, her fellow exotic dancers, her various acquaintances in hell. Sure, most of them are one-dimensional, but that’s always the case with secondary characters, their isn’t time to develop them in one novel. But I loved them anyway.

Besides being able to write wonderful heroines, Kessler also has a great writing style. She kept me entertained throughout ‘Hell’s Belles’ with so much wit and humour that on occasions I almost wet myself with laughter. Her descriptions are hilarious, her pacing is fast, I never once felt the book drag. And that’s no mean feat. There are so many books out there, written by some of today’s well-established authors that I yawn my way through because of the sluggish pace. When I first started ’Hell’s Belles’ I noticed that there was a pattern of inner monologue and my initial reaction was: ‘that is going to get old very quickly’. But by some miracle, it didn’t. Kessler kept it witty, kept it natural, kept it sharp. I loved it.

Kessler’s depiction of hell was fabulous. She was so creative with the whole hell/heaven system. She gave a whole new lease of life to the concept. And it was easy to navigate the underworld. A key factor in this book is that it is not so complicated where you have to really think to figure out the plot. I’m not saying I’m against complex novels, they are often the best books out there. But I was grateful for an easy-to-follow plot, especially as I was reading into the wee hours of the morning.

Also, something that surprised me, and that can also be attributed to Ms.Kessler’s fabulous writing style was that the whole strip joint/exotic dancer thing did not come across as seedy. Sure Roman, the owner, was a slimy bastard but besides that it was just like any other work place. With girls in g-strings.

In terms of this being a romance novel, I don’t think so. Sure, there is romance there and some hot sex but the book really focuses on Jezebel coming to terms with being human and all that can mean. It says ‘Paranormal Romance’ on the cover but I would say it’s more Paranormal Chick-lit.

And there were plenty of twists and turns in the story to keep me locked in.

Down points? None. Yay!

It may not be the most well-written book on the market, it may not have the most developed characters, but it is so much fun and it is so original, please everyone not prejudiced against paranormals, PICK THIS UP HERE!

And thank you Jackie for writing such a great book! I’m already ordering your second!

Rating: 38/50

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Kristie (J) said...

I haven't read this one so I can't comment on it, but I just wanted to say a hearty welcome to the wonderful world of romance bloggers!!! It really is a great little community and the more the merrier as they say. I always get excited when I discover a new blogger :)

Jackie said...

Wow-- thanks so much for the review! I'm thrilled you enjoyed HELL'S BELLES.

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