Kiss & Hell, by Dakota Cassidy
A paranormal romantic comedy with heart is probably the easiest way to describe Ms Cassidy’s Kiss & Hell. The problem is that such a label doesn’t come even close to doing it justice. There are some deeper threads mixed in with the laughter, but there isn’t any overt preaching because none of the characters take themselves terribly seriously.
There is some graphic language and a couple of rather explicit sex scenes in the novel, but the real warning is for people who can’t take their religion with a sense of humor-the language in the narrative is highly irreverent, but definitely not with the intent to offend.
Here is the back cover blurb:
She’s never seen a sexier ghost.Delaney Markham doesn’t just see dead people, she hears them too. And FYI-communicating with tortured souls all day can really wreak havoc on your love life. After all, no one wants to date the crazy chick that talks to herself. Sans boyfriend, Delaney makes the best of her gift by holding séances and earns a pretty penny for them too, that is until one incredibly annoying ghost just won’t go away.
Now, if she could only get her hands on him.
When he materializes wearing nothing, Delaney knows something’s up. Besides being sinfully hot-in a college professor sort of way-all signs point to Clyde Atwell being much more than the ordinary spirit. In fact, he’s a newbie demon whose first assignment is to take Delaney back down to hell with him. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen on the first date. If Delaney’s old nemesis Lucifer thinks she’s going down without one hell of a fight, he’s got another think coming…
Delaney’s life is… well, hectic is one of the words that come to mind. For fifteen long years, her every waking moment has been game for unannounced spirits to show up and demand her help to ‘cross over’. Being able to see, hear and communicate with ghosts who are stranded between death and heaven is not exactly conducive to holding a 9 to 5 job, getting married and having the required 2.5 babies. Hell, making ends meet is difficult enough, thank you so very much!
Still, it’s not all terrible. Single and unencumbered, Delaney is free to shower all the love in her heart on her dogs-one through six, each one with more health and emotional issues than the last-and she has her brother Kellen and her best friend, Marcella. So what if her friend is a demon and her Fridays are spent watching Ghost Whisperer on tv? Clearly, there are worse fates, right?
All good things must end, though, and Delaney’s life is derailed when newly inducted demon Clyde shows up-in the middle of a séance, too! His mission: to tempt Delaney into signing a contract with Satan. His question: why would the devil have it in, personally, for someone so minor, in the great scheme of things, as Delaney.
There are a couple of things we learn quickly: Delaney knows more than she’s saying about why she’s in Lucifer’s crosshairs, and Clyde should have never been in Hell to begin with. So now the quest is to figure out how and why he ended up down there and-much more important and urgent-how to get his soul up there instead.
Most of the novel is seen from the heroine’s point of view, which is just hilarious. Things may be glum and worrisome, but Delaney is not someone who dwells on the depressing side of life, and the way she thinks about things and people around her is just wonderful. Her speech is great, peppered with all sorts of expletives and slang that make perfect sense-and, of course, she’s hiding her vulnerability under her smart mouth. For example:
(Clyde) “Because you are sort of supposed to come with me-or I’m supposed to make sure you end up there, anyway.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Where?”
Yeah, she’d get right on that.
Pack a fucking bag or something.
What did one wear in Hell?
It was hot there-definitely hot.
I am finding it difficult to do justice to the novel in a mere review. It is funny, in very much a laugh out loud way, but it’s also heartfelt. There is a definite poignancy to the relationship that develops between Clyde and Delaney. After all, it’s not as if a person can have a decent romantic relationship with someone who is either bound to Hell or on his way to Heaven, right?
Marcella’s love for Delaney, as well as her loyalty and determination, play a key role in the resolution of the main conflict, while Kellen’s presence in her life is at once a source of strength and comfort, and another reason to worry. After all, with Satan gunning for her, it’s better not to give the evil one any more targets.
Delaney is a wonderful character, and Clyde-geeky, insatiably curious, honorable yet devious Clyde-is her perfect match. Now all that is needed is a little divine intervention…
Kiss & Hell gets 8 out of 10 from me, and Ms Cassidy will now be on the receiving end of my nagging (Marcella! Kellen! Marcella! Kellen!)