(Originally published at RR@H Novel Thoughts)
My Way to Hell, by Dakota Cassidy
The second title in Ms Cassidy’s hilarious Demonic romances, My Way to Hell follows former demon-turned quasi ghost Marcella Acosta as she butts heads with Kellen Markham, bane of her previous existence and brother of her best friend ever.
Readers should be aware that there’s quite a bit of cussing in the novel, and that the Lord’s name is used in vain—rather frequently and in pretty creative ways—throughout. There is also a bit of graphic sex (well into the novel, I may add—like, two thirds or more of the way in), so anyone with objections to either of these, should avoid reading this book.
Also, while there is a tiny bit of info dumping in the first couple of chapters, quite likely to bring new readers up to speed on the events of Kiss and Hell (review here), and to introduce both the cast of characters and the dynamics of Ms Cassidy’s unique take on the supernatural, I definitely recommend reading the series in order. Honestly, these are characters that no amount of info-dumping would prepare you for: you need to get to know them little by little.
Here is the back cover blurb:
She never thought he’d be the one.
After defying Lucifer to save her best friend Delaney, ex-demon Marcella Acosta has been banished to exist in the plane between heaven and hell—and there isn’t a shopping mall in sight. After numerous failed attempts to contact Delaney through a bunch of hack mediums, Marcella’s at her wits end. But there’s one medium she’s hasn’t tried yet, and he just happens to be Delaney’s scorching hot brother—the one guy who never gave Marcella the time of day…
But her heart has other ideas.
Thanks to his recently inherited psychic abilities, Kellen Markham has had spirits haunting him day and night—and not only are they just plain annoying, somehow they’re able to touch him. To try and escape, Kellen moves into his sister’s old apartment. But when he finds a box full of stuff that belonged to Marcella—the demon he spent years fighting his fierce attraction to-his not-so-pure thoughts drag her back to Earth. Now that Marcella’s free from Plane Drab, there’s no way in hell she’s going back. Especially since there’s a certain sexy medium she just can’t seem to keep her hands off of…
As My Way to Hell starts we find a very dejected Marcella hanging out with other ghosts in a plane that definitely lacks a certain something—and not just fashion. Luckily for her, there is a ghost around who is not willing to let her spend the rest of her undead and unalive eternity moping.
Introduced first in Kiss and Hell, Darwin was Delaney’s dog, so well loved by her that after his death she has not named any of her other dogs (of which she has half a dozen or more), identifying them with the number of their arrival instead. Now we realize that Darwin loves Delaney just as fiercely, which is why he hasn’t crossed over—and why he has decided it is past time to nudge Marcella to find a way to contact Delaney and reassure her after the climactic events at the end of the first book.
Honestly, all the interactions between this cranky Rottweiler and this fashion conscious ghostly ex-demon are wonderful, especially since they can’t stand each other. Love (for Delaney) does make for strange bedfellows, indeed.
Personally, however, I love Marcella. In fact, I’m going to steal this: “I’m all kinds of broken up over it, too. I’m just good at hiding my complete devastation. You can’t see it, but really, I’m crying on the inside.” *chuckle* I can already see all sorts of appropriate times to use it, too.
For his part, Kellen has spent the months since inheriting Delaney’s gift of sight trying to learn to cope with incoherent and irritable ghosts, and with the knowledge that he lacks that indefinable quality his sister has that allowed her to help those lost souls. Unlike his sister, Kellen can also touch the spirits of the dearly departed—and in turn, be touched by them.
Between seeing ghosts and having them take umbrage (in a very un-ghostly, physical way) to his curt manner, his well-ordered life has gone in the crapper. No school will keep on staff a teacher who shows up with black eyes more often than not, so Kellen has been forced to take over Delaney’s supernatural store to make ends meet. Added to that depressing reality is the fact that he misses Marcella, she-demon of his nightmares and sexual fantasies.
And it is these last that manage what all the nagging hasn’t: Marcella is suddenly back on earth.
Woefully helpless in her unsubstantial ghostly form and sadly out of fashion, but here.
Which is not quite where—or how—she’d like to be, what with uselessly lusting after Kellen, and this complicated and unexplainable attachment to a nine year old boy with the sight, oh, and let’s not forget, she can’t find her way back. To top the cake, her past—which she has taken pains to forget for over seven decades, thank you so very much—has come back to haunt her, with a vengeance.
Shenanigans and hijinks immediately ensue as demons, dead husbands, minions, ghosts and the living dive in, with Satan himself waiting in the wings, always happy to put his net in and snag a new soul.
It is always amazing to me how characters and situations that are at first glance shallow can have such depth. Marcella’s struggle with her feelings, her protectiveness of Delaney, Kellen and young Carlos, her fear, they all come through so strongly—all while she’s wisecracking, bemoaning her bedraggled ghostly appearance and threatening eternal punishment to beings both earthly and hellish who get in her way.
There are several rather over-the-top moments, and a couple of characters are clearly introduced with view to a sequel (not that I would mind, personally *coughcough*), but there is also heart. When Marcella remembers her reasons for becoming a demon…well, I got teary eyed (and that’s all I’m saying about that).
My Way to Hell is another solid 8 out of 10.