Hellbent & Heartfirst

Kassandra Sims
2008, Paranormal Romance
Tom Doherty Associates, $6.99, 322 pages, Amazon ASIN 0765358018

Grade: F
Sensuality: Warm

Hellbent & Heartfirst sounded interesting since it features a heroine who works with Katrina victims. While I still think such a plot could be interesting, it wasn't, as executed in this book. Worse yet, I didn't care about the hero or heroine, or even like them.

Jacyn Boaz took an indefinite sabbatical from her teaching position at the University of Texas after Katrina hit in order to return to her home town in Mississippi. She spends her days trying to reunite children with their parents and her nights drinking.

One night, Jacyn meets up with Jimmy Wayne Broadus, a gorgeous, ex-rodeo star distressed over the fact that women always misread him and think he's a boozing womanizer. Soon the two are having hot and heavy sex - after drinking. This is nothing new for Jacyn. She's had a number of one-night stands and, in fact, at first doesn't even recall a previous one-night stand with Jimmy Wayne because she was so drunk at the time.

Jimmy Wayne introduces Jacyn to a world filled with supernatural beings. When he's not drinking and having sex, Jimmy Wayne "cleans up" after things that hurt people. Soon, Jacyn is helping him track a particularly nasty monster.

The author vividly describes, at length, every setting. I know exactly what they look like, feel like, and smell like. And believe, me, I found nothing appealing about knowing that Jimmy Wayne smelled like sweat and the tobacco he chews. I might have enjoyed the book more if I'd known more about Jimmy Wayne and Jacyn and less about their settings.

The book's timeline is fuzzy. Then again, with as much alcohol as the characters drink, I'm sure it's fuzzy for them as well. At the end of one chapter, Jimmy Wayne and Jacyn have just killed a monster. When the next chapter begins, it's eight months later and Jacyn is living in Nashville with a friend. In fact, she's lived there for six months. She moved there after giving up on Jimmy Wayne returning, and hasn't accepted any of his calls for months.

Jacyn continues her heavy drinking in Nashville, surrounded by a group of rather unsavory individuals. Despite the fact that she never really shows any indication of being smart, she's managed to land a teaching position at a local university. Soon, Jimmy Wayne appears in Nashville, and the two are back to fighting supernatural beings.

I had a hard time figuring out what grade to give this book. If it had been paranormal fiction, or fiction, I might have given it an ever-so-slightly higher grade. But, it says right on the spine (and I know, because I checked several times), "paranormal romance." And, sorry to say, this just did not read like a romance to me. The romance between Jimmie Wayne and Jacyn never came across, and I just didn't buy that she was "insanely in love" with him. Insanely in lust, definitely, but in love, nope, didn't see it.

The ending was very unsatisfactory and vague; I'm not really sure what happened, or what will happen in the future for Jimmy Wayne and Jacyn. This felt like the first part of a series, but if so, I have no desire to read further into it.

I don't read romances to feel depressed and that's how I felt most of the time I forced myself to get through this one. Actually, I could only read it in bits and pieces, and had I not been assigned the book for review, would never have finished.

-- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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