Rebekah “Beck” Damian runs a demonoid bar where everyone’s welcome—even a reformed flesheater who’s strictly vegetarian, a musical ghost who’s looking for a piano bar, and a feline harbinger of doom named Wampus Kitty who’s scaring the customers. So when a big strapping demon-hunter walks into the bar, Beck knows it’s not the end of the world. She’ll treat him like any other customer.
If only she could. Conall Dalvahni is the toughest, meanest, sexiest demon-hunter Beck’s ever seen—and she’s finding it hard to hide her attraction. As far as Conall’s concerned, the feeling is mutual. But how can he trust a beautiful half-demon babe like Beck—when her demonic friends have the perfect weapon to destroy every hunter on earth?
And here is Mina's review:
My review takes a quasi-newspaper article type format, with each section being worth a point.
Beck, the Heroine – She’s half demon but all fearless kickass (a pre-requisite for both, I imagine). Beck runs what used to be her dad’s dive bar because she practically grew up in it and dad’s new-ish holy roller wife (Beck’s step-mom) made him give it up. Beck caters to the local demonoid clientele (AKA “the kith”) which is, admittedly, a niche market anywhere, but especially in Hannah, Alabama.
Where the badassery comes in is in that she’s ready to take on/lock up the demons who possess humans and use them up till they’re no longer habitable, as it were. I mean, I don’t think she goes out of her way to bag and tag ‘em, but I reckon it’s just those who run afoul of her/her peeps that she captures and puts away in a glass case in her bar. (And if you think this could be problematic, you’re not wrong.)
This rather surprising lack of foresight aside, Beck’s sassy-isms were probably the most enjoyable aspect of the book for me. Maybe they’re well-known to all y’all south of the Mason-Dixon line but they were new to this Yankee. Her descriptors of herself, her hero, and the world are humble but hilariously funny. She describes the hero as having, “a mug like granite” and mentally nicknames him “Captain Grimly Perfect.” This, while she’s strenuously denying her growing attraction to the fella, seeing as he’s a demon hunter/killer, rendering him her natural enemy. But, you know, love conquers all, as do elevated hormones; after Beck’s surrendered to the inevitable desire to hook up with hero, she thinks,
…[he] looked so freaking handsome Beck wanted to offer up her hoo-hah on the altar of his magical hotness right then and there.
I dig a gal who can keep her sense of humor while in deep lust/love. Anyway, she’s a capable chick, cares about folks without being maudlin about it, and takes less time than some romance heroines to figure out her main squeeze, though it still seemed, to me, they needlessly stumbled blind in developing their relationship (but that’s the stuff of which Romancelandia is made, I suppose).
Conall, the Hero – He’s a foxy, no-nonsense leader of a magical race of hot guys destined to battle demons (this strikes me as a supremely eye-catching header for an OKCupid ad). He and his fellows seem to come from an alternate medieval era, in that they use olde tyme expressions in thought as well as speech, like “’twas” and “nary,” and refer to cars as carriages, and bars as “beer halls,” etc. He’s matter-of-fact, apparently in need of humor lessons (which his lady love is eminently capable of providing), and has a lot to learn about hyperbole. I hate to plant the seed of an image which might interfere with other readers’ experiences of the novel but I swear, dude totally seemed a cross between Mr. Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Castiel from Supernatural.
Anyway, I like that Conall’s all alpha-male without being alpha-dick as well, and by that, I mean he’s not a completely overbearing tool as paranormal (and normal) heroes often are. I have less to say about Conall than I do about Beck because I feel I got to know her better; I’d have liked more fleshing out of this character’s history/personality. Anyway, why does Conall hunt demons? ‘Cause it’s his job, yo.
The supporting cast is a mix of socioeconomic statuses and racial backgrounds, which I liked, though they don’t all get equal play, which is le suck, though understandable I guess, as the author had to focus on the main couple. Perhaps Beck’s back-from-the-dead bestie Latrisse (a “Blasian” due to her African American dad and Asian mom) will get her own story (which I’d love to read!) so she can actually do something more than scare the shit out of her BFF by coming back to life and wearing colorful clothes. I’d have liked more about Tommy, the African American zombie, who did have more going on for/with him in the story but was limited by his growing desire to consume brains (you know how it goes).
Removing a quarter of a point for wanting more about the hero and other characters, this section gets .75.
What’s Happening and Where
The plot seemed simply that Conall was in town to investigate some stuff, sort out some baddies, discover his sense of humor, and hook up with the heroine while Beck’s dealing with her unhappy past, various supernaturals seeking her aid, and her growing attraction to a mortal enemy. To be fair, this is the third installment in a series, so there’s likely an overarching storyline…which is probably just that the heroes need to sort out the baddies and hook up with the heroines while the heroines deal with their own personal demons (pun intended).
I enjoyed the world George built, with the various types of shifters, ghosts, assorted magical creatures and whatnot. Again, it’s her humor which really grabs me, as in the scene with Beck’s partner Toby (who’s alter ego is a dog), in which he freaks out over the arrival of the dreaded supernatural entity known as the Wampus Kitty (which, by the way, is totally a thing).
Anyway, it’s pretty standard paranormal fare but I thought it was told with a lot of style, so I give the plotting/setting a full point.
How Things Happen
The story advances at a more or less reasonable pace for a paranormal romance, with fighting and action and sexy scenes (though slightly fewer of these last than I’m accustomed to seeing in this subgenre). And as I mentioned earlier, the heroine and hero connect after a somewhat lower rate of stupid misunderstandings, or preconceived notions, which typically keep the main characters apart in romance novels. However, I feel the main reason for Beck holding back was a valid one and could’ve been explored in greater depth by her and Conall.
Most of the time, George weaves the backstories seamlessly into this tale, except for one notable section where, in my very irritated opinion, the author wastes about 19 paragraphs telling us about a ghost, which seemed completely unnecessary (it was a fun bit but should’ve been reserved as a book “extra” for the author’s Web site, as it took me out of the flow of THIS tale and had nothing to do with anything). Paradoxically, I also felt I was missing something valuable by not having started this series from the very beginning (which is not the author’s fault and is, in fact, to her credit as a storyteller that I now want to go back to the beginning of the series and get all caught up with the previous couples in it). Still, those 19 paragraphs!!! Three-quarters of a point here.
I mean, I tend not to get too riled up over my reading materials because, you know, I can just stop reading them, and I have a respect for others’ creative expressions which can be very forgiving. That said, there was one long WTF section, which annoyed but also amused in parts. As I read on in the section, though, I wound up needing to carefully lay down my Kindle and walk away from it for a day.
The annoying bit centers around Beck’s first sexual encounter with Conall, in which he brings her to climax via one simple stroke of her clitoris through her panties. Really. Just one stroke. I mean, I’m glad to see the clitoris receiving the respect it’s due but come on (pun totally intended). I have no trouble, at all, suspending my disbelief but I can’t go for that. No. No can do. Women have historically (and even now) experienced such difficulties with achieving orgasm that this bit really irked me. I know, I know, it’s supposed to tip off the reader that Conall’s really The One for Beck, yadda yadda, yadda. And damn, what a sexual powerhouse, eh, that he didn’t even need to break out his mighty wang! All he had to do was invest about the same amount of energy required to pick his nose to give Beck her “best ever” orgasm. (Less, even!)
Beck’s internal monologue after the event continued to annoy me, but also made me laugh in spite of myself:
“Orgasms were good. This orgasm, in particular, had been a pip—the best ever, in fact. She no longer felt so jittery and antsy, and her headache was gone. Yessir, that orgasm had done her a world of good.
“In fact, that orgasm had probably saved her life. Hell, that orgasm had probably saved OTHER people’s lives, because all that bottled-up sexual tension could have exploded and hurt someone. It was what you might call your sacrificial orgasm. She’d taken one for the team, maybe even one for HUMANITY.
“She was a frigging saint.”
It was the “sacrificial orgasm” line that made me LOL, but the rest of that just made me roll my eyes BECAUSE the reason she’s got so much “bottled-up sexual tension” is that:
“It had been years since she’d had sex with anyone, and she was long overdue in the orgasm department.”
“…on no account would she allow him anywhere hear her panty line again. Her crotch had a mind of its own and could not be trusted. Of course, that meant she was back to living in a no-gasm zone, but it was the smart thing to do.”
This whole idea of doing without sexual release for lack of a partner incensed me—suddenly we’re back in the Romancelandia where the heroine needs the hero to hand her her sexuality on a silver platter. Give. Me. A Break. Later on in the story (published in 2013 and set in today’s world), Beck chides herself for not getting a vibrator, and she’s already told us she’s been sexually active in the past, so it’s not like she’s inhibited or ignorant of the anatomy of an orgasm. Are you seriously telling me that this demon-incarcerating, dive-bar-running, badass motherfucker is incapable of getting herself off? For realz?!
I suppose this wouldn’t piss off a lot of romance-readers, but I just about lost my shit. Sure, the ideal for many is regular intimacy with a life-partner BUT we’re not compromised in our sexuality without one, for fuck’s sake.
Anyway, because that’s the one aberration from her badassery (as far as I can remember), and because this may not set other readers off the way it did me, I’ll take only half a point off here. But, grrrrrrrrrrrr!
Overall Feeling & Final Score/Grade
Despite my anger over that one section, I did really enjoy this book.
I found George’s storytelling engaging and entertaining, a fun summer read for lovers of paranormal romance. And I’m so intrigued by hints of what came before that I intend to go back to the beginning of this series. Plus, there was a fun little shout-out to Douglas Adams fans, of which I am one. So for my overall feeling, I give Demon Hunting in a Dive Bar a full point, which brings the overall score to 4 out of 5, or a grade of B minus.