Succubus On Top, by Richelle Mead (Kensington 2008)

Life is starting to look up for Georgina Kincaid, part-time bookseller and full-time succubus. After all, she’s got a job where she can score as many white chocolate mochas as she wants and a boyfriend who also happens to be her favorite author of all time, and she’s been given an award for exceeding and surpassing her succubus quotas for the quarter. Of course, for every plus, there’s a minus. The bookstore’s understaffed of late, leaving Georgina doing way more of the work than normal, and one of her best friends, Doug, is actually decidedly odd of late, leading her to wonder if it’s drugs, or something even more sinister at work. She can’t actually touch her boyfriend with any sort of intimacy in mind, lest her succubus powers kick in and start draining his very essence . . . and believe me, there’s nothing Georgina and Seth would like to do more than have wild, passionate sex. And an agreement made to save Seth’s life also has her locked into decades more of seducing random men for their energies, in an attempt to corrupt their souls.

On top of all that, one of Georgina’s best supernatural friends, an incubus named Bastien, has breezed back into her life, wanting her help in his plan to seduce and topple a viciously intolerant, conservative radio host who happens to run a powerful organization dedicated to moral purity. Even Georgina can’t argue against giving someone like this their comeuppance. So now she’s stuck juggling all these various problems . . . just in time for it to get worse. It seems there’s a new supernatural player in town trying to shake things up. After some of Georgina’s friends and coworkers fall victim, it’s up to her to find out who’s behind this and put a stop to it. For some reason, her supervisor’s staying strictly hands-off on this problem. . . .

Succubus On Top continues the plotlines and situations started in Succubus Blues, and helps to further flesh out the life of reluctant good girl/bad girl Georgina Kincaid, as well as her charmingly bewildered mortal, no-sex-involved lover, Seth Mortenson. And I have to say, Richelle Mead writes some of the hottest non-sex scenes around. Sure, Georgina may get physical with random guys in nightclubs in order to steal their energy, but it’s with Seth, in one way or another, that things truly begin to sizzle, and the way they handle that issue and work around it continues to be of great interest.

Part of why I love this series is because it maintains a healthy balance of focus. It’s as much about Georgina’s star-crossed love life as it is about her obligations at the bookstore (obligations that ramp up considerably through the course of this book) as it is about the way she deals with the rest of the supernatural community of the Seattle area. And in this particular offering, it’s also about the underlying mystery of who — or what — is preying upon people close to Georgina. What’s going on with Doug, and how can she stop something that both an angel and a demon have refused to handle? The truth behind that mystery is unexpected and interesting, forcing us (and Georgina) to think outside the mythological paradigm the series geared us towards. There’s a lot more to Georgina’s world than originally anticipated. Oh, and let’s not forget how her resumed partnership with Bastien takes a rather creative twist or two of its own, leading first to a rather surprisingly logical moment, and later to a cleverly-crafted resolution. I wish I could say I’d seen it coming, but Mead pulled it all off without a hitch.

Succubus On Top successfully straddles the fence between paranormal romance and urban fantasy (and where that fence lies has been a subject of great debate of late), and is bound to appeal to either fan base. I’ll be looking forward to the third book in the series, and here’s hoping that our heroes find the satisfaction they so richly deserve at some point.

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