Succubus on Top
by Richelle Mead
(Kensington, $15, PG-13) ISBN  978-0-7582-1642-7
****
Another hit for Mead, whose first Georgina Kincaid book, Succubus Blues, was pretty darn good as well.

Georgina is a milennia-plus-old succubus living in the Pacific Northwest.  Georgina's had a pretty good immortality, as it turns out, but it's gotten a little old. Plus, she's falling for a human author, which makes things very complicated.  For one thing, she can't sleep with him because - as part of her physical makeup as well as her job description - when Georgie has sexual contact with mortals (yup, even kissing), she taps their life force.  The more moral a person, the more she gets, and Seth's a pretty good guy.  Almost worse, is that she lives off of these sex highs .. and her boss, the archdemon John-Cusack-lookalike Jerome, would be pretty ticked if she fell behind in her duties.  Seth handles what Georgina considers infidelities pretty well, but she has a tendency to lie by omission, and that he doesn't like.

The usual suspects appear again in this book, Georgina's group of immortal friends, plus the addition of Bastien, an incubus that Georgie's been friends with for over four hundred years.  Bastien's in trouble, and he seems to think seducing a right-wing, bigoted radio show personality will get him back in the good (or is it the bad when you're working for the devil?).  When he enlists Georgina's help, things get interesting and a little ugly.  Georgina's not what you'd call straight-laced, and apparently she doesn't play the part nearly as well as her cohort.

To top it off, Doug, a friend and coworker at the bookstore Georgie manages, is into something bad.  At first, Georgina thinks it's just drugs, but when she finally manages to get her hands on a sample of his problem, Georgina is told that the problem is much worse.  Jerome and his unlikely partner in crime, the angel Carter, send Georgina on a crusade to destroy the dealer of this potent fruit of the gods.  The only advice they have is to be careful because the job is "very dangerous."

For all that is going on, the story is cobbled together very well and somehow not overrun with action.  Despite the various plots, the book centers around what is going on in Georgina's head and heart.  She struggles mightily with her relationship with Seth, not sure if part of the draw is that she can't have him.  And, for all that she gets weary of hunting the dredges of society or corrupting the saints, Georgina likes being a succubus.  She's very introspective, very knowledgeable from all of her years on earth, and extremely matter-of-fact; but Georgina's character is still a lot of fun.  There are many other characters who, no more than they show up in the book, should fade into the background but do not.  Georgina's coworkers (both on Earth and from hell), her friends, and even her lovers (or victims, depending on your viewpoint) are vivid and very lifelike.

As with Succubus Blues, when I read Succubus on Top, I looked back and thought that nothing had really happened. It's true that the action plot - in this case, the "drug" plaguing Doug and his bandmates - doesn't take precedence. In fact, Georgina's relationships, be they work-related or personal, stand out more.  Those inter-personal details definitely keep the book moving, though, and the plots get resolved.  Or, at least resolved enough to satisfy the reader.  Since this is a series, there are certain strings left dangling, especially where Georgina's relationship with Seth is concerned.  Carter, the angel, always comes across as pretty mysterious also, and it's left to the reader to wonder if he will develop into a more prominent character or if that mystery will just continue to be part of Carter's charm.  It's these little things that make the book such a quick read, and they will also keep people anxiously awaiting the next installment.

--Sarrah Knight


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