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Hell's Belles, by Jackie Kessler Book Review | SFReader.com
Hell's Belles, by Jackie Kessler Genre: Dark Fantasy Publisher: Kensington Publishing Published: 2007 Review Posted: 11/12/2007 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 3 out of 10
Hell's Belles, by Jackie Kessler
Book Review by Mike Swope
Have you read this book?
A succubus, self-described as one of Hell's best, is on the run from the
Devil himself, with several powerful demons hot on her heels, and she
escapes to the human realm and, with the help of a witch, assumes an
undetectable but desirable human form, and takes a job as a stripper.
Dangerous! Sexy! Lots of opportunity!
Unfortunately, I expected more from such an interesting setup. This book
is clearly written for those readers who enjoy nothing more than the
same old standard romance with a few thinly veiled supernatural
pretenses thrown in. Nothing scary or threatening about the book at all.
No scary dreams afterwards. No Hannibal Lecters.
The cast of character types resembles the same found in any romance,
only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Jezebel (aka
Jesse) has run away from Hell because of some misunderstanding that in
the end proves to be nothing of any real consequence or danger, it just
feels to her as though it has some great weight about it. She takes on
human form thru earthly magic to hide from bounty hunters, has a few run
ins with old demonic friends, meets a handsome vice cop named Paul who
grieves for his dead fiance, falls in love with him, etc. Opposite Jesse
is Paul, her white knight. He is immediately attracted to Jesse, despite
his great love for his dead fiance, and within days is hopelessly in
love with Jesse. Of course, by the end, Paul and Jesse are lovers in
every sense of the word. Despite the familiar story line and paranormal
trappings, Jesse is like every other female lead in every other romance
novel. Her reactions are exactly those of the typical heroine in
romances. These characteristics alone are likely to entice romance
lovers to give this book a try. They won't be disappointed.
The back story for this book is distracting. Though it is necessary for
the author to better understand the character of Jesse and explain why
Jesse flees Hell, it isn't necessary for readers. The back story is
broken into long, uninteresting, geographical segments which interrupt
the present story. In fact, I tended to skim over these segments to get
back to the real story. These segments don't propel the story being
told. Ms. Kessler attempts to show readers her interpretation of Hell
thru Jesse's eyes, but these lengthy passages, in the end, don't reveal
anything about Jesse's character, and therefore leave only a vague fog
in the reader's mind. For the most part, the back story segments seem
more self-gratifying for the author than satisfying for the reader. Most
readers, I suspect, will skim them as I have and then promptly forget them.
This isn't to say that the whole back story is unnecessary. I believe it
could be reduced to a prologue, a single chapter, so it doesn't
interrupt the story proper. Or only the absolute essentials could be
revealed by the characters' interactions and conversations as the story
unfolds. Readers of this book are not likely to care about the layout of
Hell, only what has happened there to cause Jesse to escape, the
strength and powers of the demons who seek to return her to Hell to
answer for what has happened, and what is about to happen now as the
With a setup such as we have with Hell's Belles, it would seem anything
could happen. In fact, it is the potential in this book keeps readers
turning pages, not for the story that is told, but for the story that
MIGHT be told. Jezebel should have an insatiable appetite for sex. Who
and how many will she seduce? Being from Hell, she must have some very
powerful, frightening friends, and even scarier, blood-thirsty bounty
hunters searching for her, too. When will they appear and what will
happen then? Are all the strippers at the club succubi? What racy scene
will we find? How will Jezebel survive the demons who stand between her
and freedom? Who will get hurt? Will anyone die? Sex and horror, or the
potential for them, clearly sells this book. And will also sell the next
in the series, "The Road to Hell."
With Hell's Belles, Ms. Kessler has begun to develop an interesting
world with interesting characters. Jezebel is witty and flippant, with a
flair for turning an ironic phrase. Daun (short for Daunuan), Jezebel's
incubus acquaintance, f**k buddy, and friend (or foe? -- we wonder).
Their scenes are among the best in the book. Ms. Kessler's writing,
regardless of this book's back story, is also surprisingly entertaining.
If Ms. Kessler takes herself or her first-person succubus too seriously,
readers can't tell. One can only imagine the fun Ms. Kessler had writing
For some readers, there isn't enough sex or danger in this book to
fulfill the promises of the title and the potential of the characters
for some readers.
On the other hand, for most romance aficionados, there is enough romance
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