There’s nothing quite like tearing into a book with some meat on its bones… a perplexing mystery with countless twists and turns; a rip-roaring thriller; a diabolically-creepy psychological suspense; an intricately-crafted and imaginative urban fantasy; a thought-provoking classic; a ripped-from-the-headlines account of some unbelievable event. Such a book fills you up with its complex “flavors” and leaves you satisfied.
Sometimes, though, you’re just not in the mood for a heavy, sit-down meal, and instead find yourself craving junk food, with its crunch or sizzle or sticky-sweetness–a lot of tasty, mostly-empty calories, able to be consumed on the fly.
That was where I found myself a while back, on the heels of reading several weighty, thought-provoking books–wanting to indulge in a little mindless, guilty pleasure before returning to heartier fare. After some Amazon searching, I settled on new author Jill Myles’ Gentlemen Prefer Succubi–primarily because it was touted so highly by one of my UF favorites, Ilona Andrews. (Its giggle-&-cringe-inducing, Fabianesque cover was a real stumbling block, though, and I’d never have picked it but for the fact that it was also available in the totally-anonymous-to-curious-bystanders Kindle version, which made it doable.)
Depending on what you’re after, Gentlemen doesn’t necessarily disappoint; it’s an amusing-enough little story. It does suffer, however, from being an amalgam of several other–better–books. It has the newly-supernatural hero, unwitting succubus/museum docent Jackie Brighton (who is a lot like Merit-the-new-vampire/ex-grad student from Chloe Neill’s “Chicagoland Vampire” series). Like Merit, Jackie has to reconcile herself to being changed against her will. Then, there are the “love interests”. Jackie divides her time between a serim (tall, blonde, tanned, and gorgeous) and a vampire (dark-haired, pale-skinned, and gorgeous), like… well, both of those characters are pretty common in the genre. (Think Eric/Bill from Charlaine Harris’ “Sookie Stackhouse” books, or Ethan/Morgan from Neill’s “Chicagoland” series, or Roman/Seth from Richelle Mead’s far-superior “Succubus” series.) There’s also an evil demon queen, who takes hostages and demands that Jackie complete a task in order to save her friends. (Again, we’ve seen similar relationships before, such as Harris’ Queen Sophie-Anne and Sookie, or Patricia Briggs’ Marsilia and Mercy in the “Mercy Thompson” books.) Myles clearly subscribes to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of UF/PR writing.
Still, Myles does what she does with competence. She has created a set of characters who are appealing and (surprisingly) sympathetic. Nice, normal Jackie (previously a dowdy, under-appreciated doormat) would probably be forgiven for making the most of her newly-gorgeous, bodacious self… but instead she feels uncomfortable, awkward, and embarrassed by all the attention. She’s a smart, witty, just-plain decent woman suddenly thrust into a ridiculous situation, and she’s easy to like. Noah-the-serim is almost unbelievably hot (if enigmatic and a bit sad), but as a fallen angel, is only functional during daylight hours. (That creates serious problems for him in looking out for trouble-prone Jackie… who is now awake and active 24/7.) Vampire Zane has the opposite problem, active only at night. Jackie knows she is supposed to hate Zane for what he is, but can’t quite shake the feeling that there is more to him than meets the eye. Even long-time succubus Remy–Jackie’s mentor by default, being the only other “suck” in their small Wyoming city–has some poignant moments, as we see behind her bravado, love of trashy clothing and impractical shoes, (not to mention her job as a porn star), to the affection she feels for a regular boy in this book.
Gentlemen is a “sexy” book–no great surprise there–without being an overtly “trashy” one, so the subject matter seems less tawdry. And, the world Myles has created is an interesting one, with some slightly-different takes on serim, vampires, demons, angels, etc. She researched her subject matter and tosses in the occasional historical tidbit.
It’s worth a look if you’re in the mood for, oh, a little cotton candy or caramel corn; it’s a light and diverting romp offering plenty of grins and giggles. Just don’t expect this one to stick with you for several days.
Jackie Brighton [UF/PR]
Gentlemen Prefer Succubi-December 29, 2009
Succubi Like it Hot-January 19, 2010
My Fair Succubi-December 28, 2010
This book was purchased in Kindle form by GlamKitty