Title: Succubus Heat
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Kensington Publications (US) / Bantam Books (UK)
Publication Date: May 2009 (US) / June 2009 (UK)
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Stand alone or series: Book 4 in the Georgina Kincaid/Succubus series.
Why did I read this book: It’s no surprise that I am a huge fan of Richelle Mead‘s writing – for both adults and young adults alike. I loved the third book in Georgina’s ongoing series, Succubus Dreams, which ended on a huge gut-punch. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Succubus Heat (though it has taken me a while to actually get to reviewing it!).
Summary: (from amazon.com)
Georgina Kincaid has been a bad, bad succubus. . .
. . .which should be a good thing. But lately, thanks to her foul mood over breaking up with bestselling writer Seth Mortensen, she’s been so wicked that Seattle’s uber-demon Jerome, decides to “outsource” Georgina to a rival–and have her spy for him in the process.
Being exiled to the frozen north–okay, Vancouver–and leaving Seth in the cozy clutches of his new girlfriend is unpleasant enough. Then Jerome is kidnapped, and all immortals under his control mysteriously lose their powers. One bright spot: with her life-sucking ability gone, there’s nothing to keep Georgina from getting down and dirty with Seth–nothing apart from his girlfriend that is. Now, as the supernatural population starts turning on itself, a newly mortal Georgina must rescue her boss and figure out who’s been playing them–or all hell will break loose. . .
Georgina Kincaid has just had her heart pulled out of her chest and stomped on by the one mortal she trusted and loved, and she’s decided to let herself go down a dark path of self-loathing. After learning that her writer-boyfriend, Seth Mortensen, has slept with one of Georgina’s friends and coworkers, Maddie, she throws herself into her work – that is, she starts taking her job as a succubus in earnest, stealing life force from good men by sleeping with them. Unfortunately, while Georgina is doing a great job at work, she’s also irritating her friends and her boss with her bitchy attitude. In fact, she pisses off her boss Jerome so much that he sends her on an out of town job up north in Vancouver for a rival Archdemon, Cedric. Jerome and Cedric have been bumping heads over their neighboring territories, and Georgina’s job up north is a spy/sabotage job as much as it is a punishment for her. When she arrives in Vancouver, she learns that her mission is fairly simple: infiltrate a group of ridiculous “satanists” and get them to stop causing a ruckus that makes the people downstairs look bad. Everything seems to be going according to plan until Jerome disappears, summoned by some human magician – and Seattle suddenly becomes fair game for power-hungry demons. Jerome’s disappearance not only shakes up the underworld, however, as while he’s gone the immortals under his jurisdiction suddenly find that their supernatural abilities are in a strange stasis. For Georgina, this means she can no longer shapeshift…or draw on the lifeforce of her lovers. Her love life in tatters, Georgina knows she must save her boss Jerome from certain destruction, but finally the only obstacle that kept her and Seth from physically being together has been removed…
Succubus Heat is trademark Richelle Mead – a fast-paced plot balanced by characters in nasty, emotional situations, all written with a deft, quippy style. Ms. Mead certainly isn’t hesitant to trample all over her heroines’ hearts, dragging them through all kinds of emotional torture, and Succubus Heat is no exception. This is one cringe-inducing book for poor Georgina – and I mean that in a good way. Understandably, Georgina is a mess after Seth has taken up with Maddie and it’s even worse since Maddie is so innocent and likable (she never knew that Seth and Georgina were together, otherwise she never would have started dating him). It was painful to read this book, with Georgina’s heart flayed open over and over again. Intellectually, I understand that Seth did what he did out of love for our intrepid heroine, because he didn’t want her to get hurt by him…but emotionally I cannot explain how effing pissed I was at Mr. Mortensen while reading this book. Initially I couldn’t help but feel a little angry at Georgina as well as she wallows in self-pity and loathing, blaming herself but never Seth. But then, the switch to anger happens – and I was ecstatic. FINALLY!
The thought depressed me, and I found myself growing sadder and sadder as I walked back to my hotel. In that moment, I would have given anything to be with Seth again, to right the wrongs we’d done to each other back around Christmastime. Losing him was losing a part of me that —
Searing, white-hot anger suddenly shot through me. What the fuck was I whining about? Why should I miss him? Why should I pine for someone who’d betrayed me and hurt me with my friend, of all people?
YES! THANK YOU! It’s impossible to hate Maddie because of her earnestness and how good a friend she is to Georgina, but Seth knew full well what he was doing, and he made a huge, craptastic mess of things. Way to go, genius. The angst and the anger, however, is all part of the charm of these books (and of Ms. Mead’s writing in general). I love that she isn’t afraid to take chances with her characters, keeping things complicated, hurtful and, well, messy. Life’s like that. Another thing I kept thinking to myself while reading Succubus Heat was how Georgina keeps seeming to make the same mistakes over and over again. She’s supposed to be over a millennium old, and yet she continues to blunder with her emotions and decisions. With Seth, with the past loves in her long life, with her friends…Georgina’s heart is in the right place, but her head certainly isn’t. At first I questioned this – would a creature this old be so silly and petty and continue to make these errors? But, upon reflection, it seems plausible, especially in Georgina’s case. She’s been doomed to an eternity of servitude for Hell, borne of a bad decision she made during her lifetime. What’s that saying, that Hell is of your own making? Well, that certainly seems to be the case with Georgina. As her friends tell her, there’s something about Georgina that subconsciously craves this heartache, or this feeling that she isn’t good enough. It’s a very interesting psyche that Ms. Mead creates with her succubus, and I find myself enjoying Georgina’s journey immensely.
Besides Georgina, other characters are in top form as well. We learn more about Dante, black magic practitioner and Georgina’s new boyfriend, with a soul so smutty it doesn’t matter that Georgina sleeps with him. Jerome, Carter and the usual crew of Georgina’s vampire and imp friends are in the picture as well. And, of course, there’s Seth and Maddie. But there are a few unexpected faces from the past that show up here, as well as introductions to new characters – all of which are engaging and believable. Ms. Mead’s characters, as usual, shine.
In terms of plotting, however, I felt something was lacking in this book compared to its predecessors. The “mystery” element of Ms. Mead’s books is never very strong – in Succubus Heat I think I had most of the mystery solved by the first third of the novel. It’s a bit irritating that the solutions are so obvious to the books, and Succubus Heat is a little more predictable than the others in the series so far. A little subtlety will go a long way, and I can only hope that the next installment will be less transparent in terms of its villains. The writing is solid and I read through this book in a single sitting…but I want something more from Georgina now. I can only hope that there will be a little more in terms of substance ahead.
Overall I really enjoyed Succubus Heat, though it wasn’t as good as the prior books in the series. A word to the wise – if you don’t like a lot of angst, or can’t take some good ol’ emotional torture with your Urban Fantasy, you won’t like this book (heck, you probably haven’t been reading this series in the first place!). But fans of the series, steel yourselves for an emotional rollercoaster.
Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1:
Sleeping with my therapist was a bad idea.
I knew it too, but I couldn’t really help it. There were only so many times I could hear “Why don’t you explain that” and “Tell me how you feel.” So, I finally snapped and decided to show the guy how I felt. I’ve gotta say, for a decent guy who had never cheated on his wife, he wasn’t that hard to take advantage of. And by “not hard,” I mean “ridiculously easy.” His pseudo morals gave me a strong succubus energy fix, and when you consider that what we did was probably the most productive thing that ever took place on his couch, it was almost like I did a good deed.
Still, I knew my boss was going to be pissed, seeing as he was the one who’d ordered me to seek counseling in the first place.
“Do not tell Jerome,” I warned my friends, tapping my cigarette against the ashtray. “I don’t want to deal with that kind of fallout.”
My friends and I were sitting at a booth in Cold July, an industrial club down in Seattle’s Belltown district. The place was dark and loud, with crisscrossing pipes on the walls and ceiling forming the bulk of the décor. Because it was a private club, they didn’t have to adhere to the city’s public smoking ban, which was a perk for me. In the last few months, I’d found nicotine was one of the essential things helping me cope. Other things on the essential list: vodka, Nine Inch Nails, a steady supply of moral men, and an all-purpose bitchy attitude.
“Look, Georgina,” said my friend Hugh. He was an imp, a type of hellish legal assistant who bought souls for our masters and did assorted middle management tasks. He had dark cropped hair and was big without being fat. “I’m no expert in mental health, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that probably wasn’t a helpful step on the road to healing.”
I shrugged and let my eyes scan the crowded room for potential victims. There were some pretty good pickings here. “Well, he wasn’t that good. At therapy, I mean. Besides, I don’t think I need it anymore.”
You can read the full excerpt online HERE.
Additional Thoughts: On the covers, yet again. Why do other countries get all the gorgeous covers? Not that the US cover of Succubus Heat is bad, but her head looks out of proportion. I think it’s the hair that really bothers me the most. Weird. In contrast, look at how gorgeous these other countries’ versions of the covers look!
Verdict: Very good installment in the Georgina Kincaid/Succubus series – but only for those strong of heart (and ever so slightly masochistic). Recommended.
Rating: 7 Very Good
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