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August 2, 2011

Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson #1) 
by Darynda Jones

Goodreads blurb:
Pub: February 1st 2011, St. Martin's Press

A smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper.

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

This is a thrilling debut novel from an exciting newcomer to the world of paranormal romantic suspense.

My thoughts:
*Spoiler free

This review took me a long time to write, because I LOVED this book so much and I wanted to tell you so many things about it, that I didn’t even know where to start. I didn’t want to let anything out either (I had a 3-4 pages long review and it didn’t even include my favorite quotes).  And I still believe this post doesn’t make it justice. Anyway, I’m warning you: this is going to be a long one and it comes with a lot of squealing, gushing, swooning and fangirly moments.

Because you have to read First Grave on the Right! You have to see how brilliant and original and hilarious Darynda’s writing style is! You have to swoon over Reyes! And, of course, you have to meet Charley. She’s one of the most like-able main characters I have met in a very long time! She’s a part time PI, an Albuquerque Police Department consultant who helps her uncle solve murders and a full time grim reaper - actually, the grip reaper – who helps dead people cross over into the light. But she’s not your usual dark, scary and umm… grim reaper – she’s a sexy, chic, smart, sassy girl with a big heart – and great sarcastic lines. It’s impossible not to love her! She’s also caring, brave, tenacious and always determined. So when three lawyers end up dead and show up on Charley’s door step, asking for her help to solve their murders, she doesn’t hesitate one bit and gets dragged right into a mysterious, suspenseful and even dangerous story. This case is more complicated and scary than any other case she’d worked on, but she solved it just fine - with a little help from the outside. And as of all the creepy situations, twists, turns and questions that come with this case weren’t enough, she needs to solve Reyes’ enigma too - a smoking hot entity (literally!) who shows up in her dreams and sometimes in her real life too, whenever she’s in danger. There’s something dark, mysterious, intriguing and passionate about him. He also seems familiar and Charley has to find out when did she meet him, under what circumstances and what does he want from her.

So… Reyes. *dreamy sigh* He’s tall, dark and handsome, but that’s where all the similarities with any other male character I’ve ever met end. For a long time, I didn’t even know what he was (and I shouldn’t have known, but I stumbled upon some spoilers). He’s something special, enigmatic, unnaturally hot and oh, such a tease! Just when you think you can finally learn something about him and his reasons, he disappears. Yup, he comes and goes without warning, just like a touch of hot smoke. *melts* He has a wicked sense of humor and some killer one-liners! You see, he didn’t even have to do something major to win me over. All he had to do was to show up in the right place, at the right time and to do/say the right thing and I was lost - very much like Charley. Because “Reyes aka God of Fantasies and All Things Sensual” is a swoon-worthy Alpha male, but not in a super-strong-with-super-powers-who-kills-everything-and-everyone-just-for-daring-to-look-at-him-and-who-likes-to-slam-you-into-a-wall-and-do-all-kind-of-wicked-things kind of way, but in a literally-hot-and-stunningly-beautiful-who-makes-your-heart-race-and-your-knees-buckle-just-with-a-touch-and-a-whisper kind of way. Not that he minds the wall thing.* And he does have that possessive, jealous behavior and the unconditional love for the main character that comes with the Alpha male attitude. “Because perfection is a dirty job, but someone has to do it.”  
"The shadow moved, disintegrated, disappeared, and reappeared before me in the same instant. Then it was my turn to retreat. I stumbled back as a long tendril of smoke raised, and suddenly an arm was braced against the wall beside my head. [...] His mouth brushed my ear, sending shivers down my spine. “Dutch,” he whispered, and I melted into him. [...] Then his mouth covered mine and I lost all sense of reality. My world took his form, became his body, his mouth, his hands, skimming over me, surveying the hills and valleys of all that was me, his moon. His very own satellite seduced into his orbit by the sheer will of his gravity." 
*fans self* Where was I? Oh, right. Trying to write a review and make people read this book. So First Grave on the Right is a very complex novel, beautifully written and with action that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end – and then some.  Not only is this a good story with awesome characters and interesting plot, but it also has a perfect dose of humor, suspense, action, mystery, romance, supernatural elements, great world building and well developed characters. Because the side characters are just as like-able and interesting as the main characters: there’s Cookie, the cool, funny and caring best friend who has an adorable daughter (believe me, anyone would love to have a bff like her); the uncle who is much more of a father to Charley than her own father and who knows many things about her and tries his best to protect her; even the dead people in this story have a nice part into the plot and the amazing dialogues! And then there’s Garrett. I have to admit that I paid him very little attention when I first read the book, because I was too astonished, bewildered and absorbed by Reyes’ presence to notice anyone else. J) But when I re-read the book I realized I actually liked the guy. He’s obviously handsome, smart, funny, yet stubborn and reluctant to believe anything about Charley’s “gift”. But at least he’s trying to get into her good graces. Besides, their banter is absolutely hilarious!
"After a long pause in which he took the time to blink several times, he asked, "You named your breasts?" I turned my back to him with a shrug. "I named my ovaries, too, but they don't get out as much." 
Anyway, the point is that Ms. Jones is a genius and she succeeded in blending in all the elements and the details necessary for a perfect read! 

On a side note, if you are a TV shows addict too, imagine something where Ghost Whisperer meets Castle and then add a healthy dose of humor, a bit of scorching romance and some cool, fascinating paranormal aspects. Sounds good IMO!:D

I read this book a few months ago (if you follow me on Facebook/Twitter, I guess you know that it was my Book of the Month back in February) and I still can remember how fantastic it is and even some of the details, but I just had to re-read it. And I fell in love with the characters and the writing style all over again – actually, I think I enjoyed it even more now than I did the first time I read it, because this time around I wasn’t in any hurry to get to the end and get my answers and the suspense wasn't killing me anymore. I just enjoyed the ride – and oh my, what a ride it was!<3 This is definitely my favorite debut novel of the year!

Now, if you like urban fantasy, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, chick lit with a touch of paranormal… Actually, scratch all that. No matter what genre do you like to read, you will love this book. I promise! Are you intrigued already? Go buy two copies ASAP – one for you, one for your best friend! You can thank me later! ;)

BTW, the second book in the series, Second Grave on the Right comes out on August 16th. (I'll probably get it in a month or so too). Do I even need to mention how jealous I am of the people who got the chance to read the ARC already? *cries cussing this part of the middle of nowhere where I live because the best books always take too long to get here* *takes a deep breath* Ok, I'm calm now. Besides, there's always audible.com. Speaking of which, if you are into audibooks, I strongly recommend the audio version of this series. It is narrated by Lorelei King and she did an amazing job reading it! You can listen to a sample on Darynda's site. 

And because this was an EPIC read and I LOVE everything about and I couldn't find absolutely NOTHING to complain about it and it also goes on my All-time-favorites shelf, it deserves my 5 stars + 1 golden star rating!<3

EPIC! One of my favorites! A must read!

Happy reading!
Deea's Signature

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