No Good Dead
Kelly & Umber, Book #1
By Bill Blais
“In the last ten days, I’ve resigned myself to three things: Your kid’ll break his arm the day after you lose your job; you should always look a gift horse in the mouth; and nothing, not even ridding the world of demons, is as straightforward as you’d think.”
Kelly McGinnis has spent her adult life trying to do the right thing, but as a newly down-sized mother of twins and the wife of a man living with Multiple Sclerosis, she also knows that trying isn’t always enough.
While interrupting a scene of police brutality, Kelly unwittingly releases a real, live demon. After she manages to kill the creature through gut instinct and blind luck, she is approached to join a secret group of demon hunters who reveal an underworld of monsters and magic.
Against her better judgment, Kelly accepts the lucrative, if bizarre, offer; but when she meets Umber, a compelling incubus with an unexpectedly human story, she learns that the truth is far stranger and more terrifying than she imagined.
Recently, I have been stuck in a slew of books that have not lived up to the potential promised by the intriguing and crafted blurbs attached to them. Thankfully, there have been a few times I have been freed from the utter boredom so many of these books have caused but not by many. Enter No Good Deed, which truth be told I jumped into reading with reluctance and not expecting much. I mean a mother fighting demons, not exactly a concept we’re (as in us readers) are used to seeing playing the starring role in a supernatural fantasy. I quickly discovered my all too judgmental attitude was way more wrong than it bargained for! No Good Deed completely surprised me in the best way.
Kelly is a wife and a mother, and until recently, she was a gainfully employed wife and mother. Enter an alleyway with a buffed up man holding onto a fragile old man while holding a gun to his head and Kelly’s oh-so-normal-world flips over into the utterly bizarre. Turns out the guy with the gun was a trained assassin and the old man, well, let’s just say he isn’t as fragile as he looks. Kelly barely manages to escape the entire confrontation with her life and limbs still intact but that one little encounter brings in Denis Larocque, a well put together Frenchman who leads a team of demon hunters. Throw in a pouch of ten thousand dollars and a job offer and it seems Kelly’s oh-so-normal world just went straight to hell—literally.
Kelly has become one of my new favorite heroines! She isn’t the anorexic-perfect features-can-kick-butt-without-any-real-training type of heroine. No, Kelly is a size fourteen with sarcastic mouth and tougher than steel attitude. She’s got the fierceness of a mother and the strength of a woman who has endured a lot but hasn’t been beaten down by it. Kelly isn’t one to complain, she sees a problem and she finds a way to solve it, come hell or high water. That’s one of the things I really liked about her. She makes her decisions based on heart and gut instinct. She will do anything to protect her family and provide for them (anything that isn’t illegal that is). Kelly isn’t living a life to impress anyone, she just wants to make sure her family is provided for and safe. She doesn’t worry so much about the approval of others as she does about doing what is right.
Denis Larocque is sophisticated, honest, and oozes both money and power. He is kind when he needs to be and protective of his team. He’s still a bit mysterious though since not much of his backstory was shown in the book so I’m looking forward to learning more about his character as the series progresses. Suni is a member of Larocque’s team and has both the skills and attitude to prove if you mess with her you won’t live long enough to regret it. For the most part I did like Suni’s character and I could understand the chip on her shoulder she carried, but at times I really wanted her to drop the ‘tude and move pass the anger.
Sofia is another member of the team and one who still as much of a mystery as Denis, if not more. She’s Denis’s second in command and could kill you with a look. Rachel is quiet, intelligent, and more than a bit odd. She helps on the magical side of things and always seemed to be out of it (in a funny-sort-of-creepy-kind-of-way). Marianne is the bubbly member who oozes positivity and charm. I liked her. She was cute and sweet. Paul is the other member who handles the magical side of things, a nerd through and through with a charm all his own and very wise. Gerard is huge, Hulk-like strong, and kind. He doesn’t say much but he’s way smarter than people give him credit for. Then last but not least, there’s Mario. He’s young, well-trained, and playful. He’s the technology wiz and the combat expert. Did I mention he’s also too good looking for his own good? *wink*
There are also a slew of secondary characters. Kelly’s kids, husband, little sister, brothers and mother also make appearances. I liked the fact that Kelly’s family came in and out of the story often, showing how hard it is for Kelly to balance a normal family life with a totally insane job. Her bond with her family is unyielding and the heart of what drives the story. The action scenes were some of the best parts of the book, especially toward the end when Umber comes in. Umber is an Incubus with some very tempting and very dangerous powers. One touch from him and you’ll be transported into your most desired fantasies, but there’s a catch, your soul goes up for sell the moment you let him touch you. Umber didn’t come in toward close to the end so he didn’t get a lot of scenes but definitely a character you will not forget.
There are only a few problems I had with the book. Most are slight little problems except for one. The biggest problem of the book was the overwhelming details of Kelly’s everyday life. There were many scenes that could have been left out and the book still would have worked because the scenes dragged out the pacing of the story. I understood the need to see Kelly’s world with her family and didn’t mind it the beginning and for the first half of the novel, but then I needed it to stop being thrown in as much as it was. There’s also a lot of telling instead of showing within Kelly’s narration throughout the book which also dragged out the pacing. Kelly explained too much every little detail of what she was doing or thinking and I tired of it. There’s also a good amount of repetition. Not so much that you get beyond annoyed with it but enough that it starts to be noticeable (or maybe that’s just me??) and frustrating.
Overall, No Good Deed was a nice little surprise of a read. I jumped right in and enjoyed the ride. Kelly proves that being ordinary is the best kind of hero and I am certainly looking forward to seeing more of Umber!
Bravo to author Bill Blais!
He has earned himself a new stalker . . . I mean fan *wink*