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I Belong

Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

TitleFirst Grave on the Right

Author: Darynda Jones

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Series: Charley Davidson (Book 1)

Publication Date: February 1, 2011

Format: Hardcover, 310 Pages

ISBN-10: 0312662750 (St. Martin’s Press)

ISBN-13: 978-0312662752 (St. Martin’s Press)

Reviewed by: Sheila


A smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

This is a thrilling debut novel from an exciting newcomer to the world of paranormal romantic suspense.

Quick & Dirty:  A hilarious adventure featuring the best version of a grim reaper I have ever read.  Full of sarcasm, suspense, and the occasional sexy scene.

Opening SentenceI’d been having the same dream for the past month-the one where a dark stranger materialized out of smoke and shadows to play doctor with me.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Darynda Jones has given us a winner in Charley Davidson, Grim Reaper extraordinaire.  I have yet to read a more lovable, engaging character with the attention span of a nat.  Charley is a private investigator, part-time bartender, and an occasional assistant to those that have died and try to find their way to the other side.  For she is the doorway: a great, big, sparkly doorway to Heaven that has been known to help solve murders.  This is totally easy for her, since the ghosts of the victims tell her all about it.  Between her and her assistant/best friend, Cookie, they help people, both alive and dead.  This latest case though, may be the death of her.

Charley is beyond funny.  Not only does she make you smile with her witty comments, she is a good person that no one can resist.  She uses her abilities as grim reaper to do good, and that says much about her character.  Even though she knows she’s different and much stronger than others, she does her best.  At least, she tries to do her best as long as she doesn’t get distracted again…

Wait, what were we talking about?  Oh that’s right, Charley’s short attention span (not to be confused with my own).  The only thing that could make this book better is if she had a super hot guy counterpart…oh wait.

Reyes Farrow is hotness personified.  He even has the bad boy going for him, being locked away in prison for murdering his father and all.  But he is also much more than he seems, just like Charley.  Reyes is not only Charley’s fantasy guy, he is also not human.  She finds out that he is the entity, “Big Bad” as she calls him, that has protected her for her entire life.  Now that Reyes is in danger of dying, she does everything she can to save him.  But will it be enough?  Will Charley’s opinion of Reyes change if she delves too deep into his past and his secrets?  Will Reyes even be willing to part with those secrets, no matter how much he desires Charley?

I really love this couple.  Charley is good-natured but hides her true feelings behind lots of snark and sarcasm.  Reyes, on the other hand, can easily be compared to a tiger; feral, deadly, and beautiful in his lethality.  And when the two get together, their sexual chemistry is combustible.  Though they each want each other more than their next breaths, they have many hurdles to overcome before they can be together.  First, there is the whole Reyes-in-incorporeal-form and not in his body, which is scheduled to be taken off of life support soon.  Second, he is in prison for murder while she is a consultant for the police; good cop vs. bad criminal.  Next, what are they both if they really are more than human beings?  Can they even be together without dire universal consequences?  This is all not including their different childhoods and responses to stress; Charley’s joking vs. Reyes severing spinal cords with his smoke knife.  I must admit though, I can’t wait to see them try.  Will these issues bring the two of them closer together, or will it finally tear them apart?

Even the secondary characters in this book are awesome.  Cookie is right there with Charley and her sense of humor.  She also happens to fill the role of maternal mothering-figure that Charley lacked from her stepmother.  Uncle Bob is her “in” with the police.  Not only do they watch out for each other, but he believes in her ability to see dead people and doesn’t make judgments on her for it.  Acceptance from her friends and Uncle is what allows Charley, not only to function day-to-day, but thrive in a loving environment where she doesn’t have to hide her true nature.  It is liberating and heartwarming at the same time.

This book does not lack for anything: It has suspense, danger, humor (lots and lots of humor), and enough sexual tension that you can cut it with a butter knife.  Charley Davidson is an endearing character that will leave you wanting more, much more.  I personally was hooked after reading just the first chapter.  Give it a try; I think that you may get hooked too.  Read this book, if nothing else, just for the hilarious chapter beginners; they are funny sayings from bumper stickers, t-shirts, and Charley words of wisdom.  Well worth your time.

Notable Scene:

Uncle Bob chuckled.  “What the Hell Spawn of Satan are you wearing?”

What Ubie was so indelicately referring to was the outfit I’d changed into, carefully picking out my most comfortable black-on-black attire and meticulously applying black greasepaint to my face to complement a desert-at-midnight look.  Naturally, I had to struggle through several costume changes as Garrett sat out in his leather-seated truck waiting for me.  I sure hoped my time-consuming endeavor didn’t annoy him.

“I’m blending,” I said.

“With what?  Evil?”

“Laugh it up, Uncle Bob.” I said before pausing to take a noisy slurp of my soda.  “Just wait until someone has to go traipsing through the desert for a closer look.  You’ll appreciate my forethought.”

Garrett chose that moment to join the conversation.  “I appreciate your forethought,” he said, his tone distant, as if his mind were elsewhere.  “Not as much as your fore-parts, but still…”

I twisted around in my seat to face him.  “My fore-parts, as you so ineloquently put it, have names.”  I pointed to my right breast.  “This is Danger.”  Then my left.  “And this is Will Robinson.  I would appreciate it if you addressed them accordingly.”

After a long pause in which he took the time to blink several times, he asked, “You named your breasts.”

I turned my back to him with a shrug.  “I named my ovaries, too, but they don’t get out as much.”

The Charley Davidson Series:

1. First Grave on the Right

2. Second Grave on the Left

3. Third Grave Dead Ahead

4. Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet

FTC Advisory: Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press provided me with a copy of First Grave on the Right.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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