REVIEW: Hell’s Belles by Jackie Kessler
Dear Ms. Kessler:
As you said when you sent me this book, hell is the new black and you must be glad that your book is released at the forefront of the paranormal romance craze to redeem demons and Hell. This is a first person story told by succubus turned mortal, Jezebel. She flees Hell after there was been a regime change. In order to avoid a fate worst than death, Jezebel turns into a mortal to avoid being sensed by demons. There is a big bounty on her head to the demon who can find her. Jezebel finds that the perfect occupation for a reformed succubus is stripping. She knows all about how to turn a man on and how to use her body to do it.
The plot focuses on Jezebel turning from demon to mortal, from being amoral to caring about others and the reason, of course, that she is fleeing hell after centuries of stealing men’s souls. This was the best part of the story. That and Jezebel’s frank enjoyment of the hedonistic pleasures of the world: from drinking coffee and eating chocolate to having sex. Another interesting part of the book was the very vivid descriptions of Hell which was a kingdom of its own.
The problems this book had were few, but disruptive. First, there seemed to be world building inconsistencies. I.e., Jezebel is around for thousands of years and knows about McDonald’s, Boston Coffee Exchange, and Au Bon Pain but isn’t sure why Krispy Kremes is spelled with a K. She knows all about ATMs, panty liners, and G-strings but not about pop culture. Second, I was unclear as to whom gets tormented by demons like Jezebel. Initially it seems like demons are only allowed to torment bad guys, those who have sold their soul to the devil or something like that. However, early on we meet Paul who is a recent victim of Jezebel’s and there is nothing in his story to suggest he deserved a nighttime visit from a soul sucking succubs. Another disappointment for me was the lack of sleuthing that the beginning of the story intimated. (or I thought was intimated). This was less a mystery romance than a chick lit-find-your-mortal-heart-inside-the-demon-body.
The one other challenge this book presents to traditional romance readers, although I can’t say it bothered me tremendously, is that Jezebel has sex with more than one character whilst she has feelings for the “hero” in the story. I have to confess that I am still not entirely sold as to who Jezebel’s match is.