Review: Under Suspicion by Hannah Jayne

 In honor of Sunday – a day I reserve for reading and lollygagging – I bring you a short and sweet book review! 

The gist: As a human immune to magic, Sophie is an anomaly at the Underworld Detection Agency, a governmental agency of sorts that helps paranormal beings blend into San Francisco society. Supernatural hijinks ensue when her alimony-seeking client, who happens to be a fire-breathing dragon, goes missing.  Soon more underworld creatures disappear – and it seems as though a slayer is on the loose. When someone – or something – tries to take Sophie out with a wooden stake and silver bullets, she suspects that something far more sinister than a renegade Van Helsing is at work. And if she doesn’t nab the killer soon, all hell will break loose – literally! Why are Sophie’s friends and clients caught in the killer’s crosshairs? And why are the vampires unaffected? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

 The romance:  As with most paranormal romances, Sophie is torn between two supernatural hotties: A handsome fallen angle Alex Grace, and a hot guardian angel Will Sherman. In the last book I was really rooting for Alex, who may or may not have a hidden agenda for wooing Sophie. But in this new installment, she’s spending a lot more quality time with Will and the romantic tension is really heating up! For more about this yummy English gent, stay tuned for my next book boyfriend pick of the week. 

Why it’s unique:  The humor. A lot of the mainstream zany sleuth mysteries are a little too contrived. Usually these types of books (which are about as funny as an episode of Full House) involve the requisite zany granny, an eccentric sidekick and a snarky protagonist. But in this series, the humor isn’t forced. The author clearly has a silly side and it comes through in Sophie’s goofy antics.

The best friend: I would be remiss not to talk about Nina, an uber-sexy vampire who’s always up for a new adventure. Even though she’s older than Hugh Heffner, she can be totally clueless about men. In this book, she falls for a famous author who makes a killing off of proving the nonexistence of supernatural beings – including vampires! Despite this minor hangup, Nina is smitten with the fame-obsessed author and decides to write a vampire mystery series of her own. The author does a fine job sprinkling her stories with these funny little subplots without getting too silly. I giggled and snorted so much – my fellow gym rats must think I have Turrets.

The setting: Of all places to set an urban fantasy, San Francisco is the best! The underworld of supernatural beings can easily blend in with the diverse mix of yuppies, hippies, hipsters, eccentric artists and drifters. Hmm..sounds a tad bit like Austin. Hopefully one of these days I’ll get to explore this wonderfully eclectic city and check out some of Sophie’s hangouts like the Fog City Diner (also featured in my favorite comedy, So I Married and Axe Murderer)  and China Town.

Emma Stone would make a fabulous Sophie!

Favorite character:  Of all the fantastical creatures in this book, my favorite character is Sophie. Normally the secondary characters (the quirky best friends especially) are my faves, but Sophie’s hilarious neuroticisms really won me over. Plus she’s from my generation, so I could totally relate to her mid-90s high school memories of Geo Storms and BUM sweatshirts.  With her sardonic wit, fearless attitude and unruly red hair, I couldn’t help but picture Emma Stone as Sophie.

This book is best paired with: A stiff Bloody Mary and a swinging hammock.

Overall assessment: Once again Hannah Jayne delivers a tightly-plotted mystery jam-packed with humor, hijinks and off-the-wall characters. She does a fine job keeping the pace and tying all the plot threads together in the final pages.  Fans of Juliet Blackwell, Charlaine Harris and Victoria Laurie can’t go wrong with a Hannah Jayne mystery.  Can’t wait to sink my teeth into Sophie’s next big adventure!

Under Attack by Hannah Jayne

The dramatic cover, with a leather-clad huntress wielding a smoking gun in one hand and a Taser gun in the other, might suggest this book is about a kick-ass demon warrior on a quest to evicerate the forces of evil.  But don’t be fooled – this book is not what it  appears to be! And for me, that’s a good thing because I’m much more into fun and frothy urban fantasies involving quirky crime-solving sleuths and preternatural hotties. So if you, like me, enjoy characters like Sookie Stackhouse or Stephanie Plum, you’ll really get a kick out of Sophie Lawson, the leading lady in Hanna Jayne’s Underworld Detection Agency series.  

As a human immune to magic, Sophie is somewhat of an anomaly at the Underworld Detection Agency, a beurocratic office that helps paranormal beings blend into San Francisco society.  As the executive assistant to the agency’s director, she uses her magical force shield to her advantage while dealing with disgruntled trolls, vamps, weres and pixies. But after a brush with evil at – where else – Starbucks, she realizes her resistance to magic is no match for Satan’s Spawn.

On a quest to retrieve the Vessel of Souls, a mysterious artifact filled with the souls of the recently departed, Satan’s minion (in the form of Elle Woods) plans to tip the balance and control both worlds. And when she discovers Sophie is the key to finding  the divine vessel, all hell breaks loose – literally!

To save the world from Satan’s wrath – and to avoid dying a slow, painful death – Sophie teams up with her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Alex, and her vampire best friend to find the vessel before it lands in the wrong hands. As they piece together clues, they unearth some dangerous secrets about Sophie’s family. And the closer they get to the vessel, the more they learn about her unusual ability.

As if being stalked and tortured by the devil incarnate isn’t bad enough – Sophie gets the boot from the Underworld Detection Agency after a new micro-managey director takes over. With no other prospects, she ends up working at a re-sale pants shop called People’s Pants. I don’t know what’s worse, having to save the world from an impending apocalypse or working at a store filled with polyester pants and embroidered capris. Ick!

Things really get complicated when Sophie discovers Alex, a fallen angel,  may have an agenda of his own. Should she trust him to use the vessel for good? Or is he just using her in order to restore his fallen wings? You’ll have to read to find out! But you’ll have to wait until it’s released on November 1.

Needless to say, I’m a big fan of Hanna Jayne’s new series. Sophie’s sassy first-person narrative is as charming as it is hilarious. She keeps the quips coming without overdoing it.  While the tone is generally light, there is an undercurrent of danger.  If you’re a fan of Molly Harper, Richelle Mead, or Charlaine Harris, you’ll love this new series. My advice: Get it, read it, share it!

In My Mailbox

I don’t mean to brag, but my blog is pretty awesome. If you need more proof of my awesomeness, check out the award below. That’s right, I’m a shameless self-promoter and proud! Now that authors are taking notice of the wonderous glory that is Chick Lit Cafe, they are sending me review copies of their books. Impressed? You should be!

Now that I have sufficiently tooted my horn in the most obnoxious way possible, I would like to shine the spotlight on two books that recently arrived in my mailbox. Check ’em out!

Another Bad Dog Book by Joni B. Cole

From Goodreads: In this collection of twenty-eight essays, Joni B. Cole reveals a mastery at mingling low moments with high comedy; and social awkwardness with social observation. At once insecure and narcissistic, loving and wanting to be loved, Cole reveals (and revels in) what it means to be human, in a way that will make readers laugh and think at the same time. The title essay in this collection was inspired when the writer went to the bookstore and noticed all the bestselling books about adorably naughty dogs. At first resentful of these other authors’ success, she eventually realized she had her own “bad dog” story to exploit, in the form of her adorable, nine-pound dog, Eli, who won’t be contained by invisible fencing, and won’t let anyone pet the family cat in peace. Yet, from this huffish beginning evolved a sincerely heartwarming and hilarious story about love, longing, and the adventure of midlife. The collection includes “Strangers on a Train,” nominated for a 2011 Pushcart Prize

Under Attack by Hannah Jayne

From Goodreads: Sophie Lawson is a human immune to magic, which comes in handy for helping paranormal beings transition into everyday life. But fallen angel Alex Grace and his search for the Vessel of Souls is one curse she never saw coming. Suddenly an unexplainable string of killings and destruction has even San Francisco’s demons fearing for their immortal lives. And Sophie isn’t about to trust Alex’s all-too-vulnerable charm or his secret agenda. Now their hunt is revealing dangerous secrets about Sophie’s past, and a malevolent power hellishly close to turning one irreverent human into the ultimate supernatural weapon. . .