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Hotter Than Hell, by Jackie Kessler

Book three in the Hell on Earth series, Hotter Than Hell is much darker in theme—if not in execution—than either Hell’s Belles or The Road to Hell. Told in the first person by the incubus Daunuan, this novel is both about a game of cat and mouse—in which Daun finds himself as the mouse, for the first time in his existence—and an exploration on the true meaning of feelings.

Let’s start with the warning: this novel has graphic language, creative cursing, a highly irreverent—and funny—way of looking at things like morality and sin, and some (okay, a lot) demon-on-demon violence. Oh and some sex. With graphic language. If you can’t laugh a bit at religion, do yourself a favor and don’t read more.

Back cover blurb:

The incubus Daunuan loves his job: seduce a lot of mortals, bring their souls to Hell, party at the best interdimensional pub this side of the Astral Plane. But when the King of Lust makes him an offer he can’t refuse, Daun has to give up all the tricks of his trade to properly befriend—and bed—Virginia Reed, a woman who’s meant for Heaven.

If he can get her to love him for the incubus he really is, and if he can avoid the rogue demons that are hell-bent on destroying him for reasons unknown, Daun will become the First Principal of Lust, second in line to the King. But Daun learns that love is more than a four-letter word, and that maybe, just maybe, demons really do have feelings after all…

For once, the blurb is pretty close to the setup for the story—whodathunkit?

One would think that tempting a mortal into sex would be pretty much a gimme as far as challenges for an incubus go, but since Virginia is not only inherently good but also still in love with her late husband, Daun’s magic has no hold on her. So our favorite incubus is reduced to doing this the human way: striking up a conversation and getting to know her. (more…)

The Road to Hell, by Jackie Kessler

The Road to Hell is the second installment in Ms Kessler’s Hell on Earth series. These novels can be described as urban fantasy with paranormal romance. In this book we reacquaint ourselves with the heroine of Hell’s Belles, an ex-succubus-turned-human-with-a-soul named Jezebel/Jesse Harris, and her human love, vice cop Paul Hamilton.

A couple of warnings: this novel is narrated in the first person by Jesse, in a very entertaining but also highly irreverent manner. There is also explicit sex and creative cursing. Not for those with exceedingly delicate sensibilities and/or rigid religious views, for sure.

Personally, I would definitely recommend starting with Hell’s Belles since many of the secondary characters appearing in this novel were introduced in it.

Here is the back cover blurb:

There’s nothing worse than a demon with a grudge.

Jesse may no longer be a soul-stealing succubus, but she’s got a Hell of a past. She’d love to come clean to her sweet, super-hot boyfriend Paul, but how exactly does a girl start that conversation? There’s no name tag that reads: “I Used to Have Sex with Men before Taking Their Souls to the Lake of Fire—Ask Me How!” Just like some people are worth being monogamous for (shudder), some secrets are worth keeping. Like the fact that bad boy incubus Daunuan keeps popping up from the Underworld to put some toe-curling moves on her; that her former associates are trying to strong-arm her back into the fold; and that every supernatural entity on the planet seems to want to have a conversation with her in the bathroom. But someone in the Underworld isn’t ready to play nice (go figure), and this time, the stakes are nothing less than Paul’s immortal soul.

If Hell wants Jezebel back so badly, they’ve got her. But payback’s a bitch, and this bitch is about to rock Hell like a hurricane—or lose her soul trying…

I confess that originally I wasn’t too keen on reading a second book with Jezebel as main character—mostly because I didn’t want to risk having her and Paul’s relationship rocked. Then again, live and learn—in the skilled hands of Ms Kessler, this story rocks my socks as much as the previous one. (more…)

Hell’s Belles by Jackie Kessler

This is the first book by Ms Kessler that I’ve read, and also the beginning of her Hell on Earth series. I am most definitely going to be reading the rest of these books, let me tell you. For labeling purposes, we’ll call Hell’s Belles a paranormal romance with a distinct urban fantasy bent. This book and the next one, The Road to Hell, as well as a related novella, “A Hell of a Time” in the Eternal Lover anthology, are available now as trade paperbacks; Hell’s Belles is being reissued as a mass market paperback in September.

But first, the obligatory disclaimer:

People who are offended by religious parody definitely should not read further—and definitely should avoid these books.

Ms Kessler creates a wonderfully amusing and intriguing world based on demonic lore twisted in a highly entertaining way. We have best friends, old lovers, new friends, new loves, regrets, guilt, hope… The writing is so engaging I didn’t even click on the fact that the story is told in the first person until several chapters into the book.

Back cover blurb:

She’s a hot demon on the run from Hell—which isn’t easy to do in heels.
Once upon a time, Jezebel was a powerful succubus, capable of seducing men and sucking out their souls. But that was before Hell put a bounty on her head. Now her only chance to escape a fate far worse than death is to live as a mortal, losing herself in a sea of unfamiliar humanity, in a place where sinners walk hand-in-hand with saints—a place like Belle’s strip club in New York City.

Working as an exotic dancer is a piece of cake for a former demon who once specialized in sex. Taking money from men? Please. It’s like leading lawyers to the Lake of Fire. Plus the lingerie is great. But she hadn’t counted on meeting sexy Paul Hamilton, a man haunted by his past. Good-bye, succubus; hello, lovestruck. Learning all about how complicated—and pleasurable—love can be, Jezebel thinks she’s turned her back on Hell.

But Hell hasn’t stopped looking for her. The secrets Jezebel holds are the most dangerous of all, the kind every demon in the Underworld would do their worst to protect. 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…

Amazingly, I only have one tiny teeeeensie little quibble with this blurb: once upon a time is actually something like three hours before the novel starts. Not that it matters much when the story covers a handful of days total, really, but by now most of you know just how anal I really am, so there.


The book is structured in a way that introduces the main characters by going back and forth in the time line, and flipping between past events in Hell and current shenanigans on Earth (New York City for most of the story). Jezebel’s internal dialogue is fast and funny, and it made me like her almost from the very first page—mostly because her personality radiates from it in a way that is both hilarious and endearing.

I mean, she’s a succubus, a demon of Lust. A creature of the Pit indeed—lying, cheating, seducing and enjoying the damned’s eternal punishments are both tools of her trade and her rewards for a *cough* good *cough* job. And yet, she feels. Beyond what is prescribed for those such as she, she feels—sympathy, empathy, caring. Call it what you will, she feels, and her feelings make her different from her brethren.

So when things change in Hell, making it impossible for her to stay, where can a demon run to, to escape the hordes of Hell? (more…)