Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: September 3rd 2013
Word Count: 74,722
Goodreads Rating: 3.93
My Rating: 3.5
Half-vampire, half-human, Nina Martinez spent most of her life underground as part of an elite secret team of government agents who quietly take down rogue monsters — the human world none the wiser.
She moves back to her hometown of Providence, RI to keep an eye on the recent uptick in supernatural activity, and to help run the bar she co-owns with her aunt. Her attempt at a “regular” life, not to mention a budding relationship with smoking hot FBI agent Max, is cut short because of a string of ritual murders targeting the city’s community of witches.
But Nina’s investigation unearths deadly secrets from her long buried parents. Now the target of supernatural assassins, could Nina be the most dangerous vampire hybrid to ever exist? No wonder she can’t get a date.
An urban fantasy set in a decaying Providence, Rhode Island, HELL’S BELLE is a fast-paced, adrenaline-fueled roller-coaster ride through a city on the cusp of becoming an urban wasteland. An energetic, expansive, and cinematic, HELL’S BELLE was called “captivating” by Kirkus Reviews.
Book Chick City gave it 5-stars, calling it “one of the best urban fantasies I have read this year!”
My Take On The Book:
Let me just begin this review admitting that I tend to dislike books written in first person. More often than not, the story tends to read like a script or have this dry feel to it. Hell’s Belle definitely had its moments but, I’ll freely admit to liking it. There was a lot that I didn’t like but I feel like what I did equaled out or over powered the negative. Karen Greco, as stated in her author bio admits to being a playwright and that definitely translates to this book. If this was a movie review I’d probably have given it a higher rating just for the visuals alone since there was definitely a bunch of flashy bits but as it stands, as a book I found myself unable to delve into it head first as I usually do with books.
I had a lot of hope for this book and in some ways it met or beat those expectations but in other ways it let me down immensely. Truthfully it’s hard to explain without this turning into a rambling so I’ll just delve into ‘The Good’ and ‘The Bad’ and let you decide for yourself.
The Great (Pros):
- Frankie. Hands down, the best part of the book. He just had this complete enamoring quality that draws you in. From his witty little comments and to his badass fighting. He rocks! Plus her description of him made him pretty swoon worthy so that’s always a plus lol. I loved the dynamic that he had with most of the characters and the back story to his character. I liked his history with her father. I liked almost everything about him but with every good thing there is usually a bad.
- Babe. I love Babette. She was the coolest. I loved her loyalty, the mentor, the spunk. She was just the epitome of a well written adult character. She had this ability to feel a familial bound.
- Dog. I loved Dog. She was the best animal character ever. This might also be because, I love animals and tend to make those annoying aww sounds when I read or see something cute involving an animal. Seriously I tend to annoying anyone in my general vicinity while reading (which might be why my friends try to stay away or distract me when I pick up a book)
- The bar cat. Her name was hilarious and truthfully I could spoil it for you all and dish but this is definitely something that should be read in the context of the story. I loved it and this proved to be one of the funniest moments in the book.
- The setting. I like the ‘different’ feel this book had in that sense. Truthfully one of my favorite things about a book is the ability to transport me to a place I’ve never been and I have to give credit where credit is due. Karen Greco staged the book perfectly in that sense. I was able to visualize everything from the bar to the strip to the hotel.
- The fighting scenes. While this is proof to the script like feel at time during this read, it added character to this story. The author was able to describe the scenes perfectly, not once over embellishing and annoying. I found myself truly enjoying all the action scenes.
The Not So Great (Cons):
- The Romance. It seemed too forced. There was absolutely nothing natural about it, the flirting seemed forced and out of place. Sure there were a few cute moments but for the most part, this seemed to be my least favorite aspect of the book. I found myself bemoaning the passages that had anything to do with romance and that is just one big ole no-no in my book.
- The Love Triangle. Well overplayed and not really my cup of tea. I found myself enjoying the prologue and genuinely falling in love with Frankie, who only got better throughout the book. After initially hoping for a spark of attraction you realize, or at least it seems that she is simply his best friend. They seem to have this sibling vibe going for them which I was totally down for…. Then Ms. Greco totally flipped the switch on my later in the book and that seriously peeved me. I went from loving this sibling bond between Nina and Frankie, only to find that Frankie’s feeling are more deep than that and truthfully it seemed like a childish move for an old ass vamp to pull. Not at all suave like he was supposed to be. Not to mention his close ties to her father and the creep factor to the fact that he’s witnessed her growing up from literally a little bean to the woman she is now. And then there is Max, one minute he’s hot then the next he’s cold and really it was way too many twisty turns and loop-de-loops for me to take. I didn’t find myself rooting for either boy and I say boy because that’s exactly how they read. They seemed almost adolescent instead of the adult males they are supposed to be.
- Nina’s attitude. She just came off as a flighty child most times and unfortunately, weak. Sure there’s a lot about her I like but I think her character was better suited for a younger age group. Also, the way she handled the obstacles that were thrust upon her was just blah. Once again she came off as whiny.
- The Secrets. Jeesh, talk about Pandora’s box. It was literally one reveal after another and that leaves much to be desired. Personally I like books that reveal a little bit each time. I don’t want all the characters ducks in a roll, I want a chance to discover more of them through each book. So while I understand the importance of these secrets and what they mean for this story it just seemed that it was too much and too soon. Since they had to be done for story progression I think it might have done better if there had been more spacing between each reveal.
- The imagery. So the setting was cool. Very well done. But that’s not what this is about. It’s more about the portrayal of each character. As I said above, they all seemed too young for their actual age. I mean Frankie is what 500 yrs. old and Max is supposed to be some hot shot detective and Nina some super bad ass chick, but really all I got from them was confusion. It’s like kids playing dress up. Seriously though, one second I absolutely adore these character then they do something utterly childish and devastating. ::sigh:: it was just too much.
To me it seemed like a stretched book. Something better written in smaller books. An odd thing for me to say since I usually complain about the opposite. I truthfully liked the book regardless of the negatives I found. Often times, you’ll find that the first book of a series tends to either suffer from the overshare bug or the underdevelopment curse. So I can’t say I’m really all that disappointed. I’d definitely recommend the book, mainly because I loved the concept of this story. It’s not often you read a book with half-breeds, at least not one like this. They tend to be way over powered and one of my favorite things about this book way definitely that lack off that overpowered aspect. She was faulted and human so you could relate to her in a sense. I look forward to the next installment. Only then will I decide the fate of this series on my bookshelf 😉
An award-winning playwright, Karen Greco has spent close to twenty years in New York City, working in publicity and marketing for the entertainment industry. A life-long obsession with exorcists and Dracula drew her to urban fantasy, where she can decapitate characters with impunity. HELL’S BELLE is her first novel.
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