Succubus On Top
by Richelle Mead, fantasy (2008)
Kensington, $15.00, ISBN 978-0-7582-1642-7


I really enjoyed the previous book by Richelle Mead in the series, Succubus Blues, so I could not wait to get my hands on the follow-up, Succubus On Top. Ah well, you know what they say about setting one's expectations too high. Not that Succubus On Top is bad. It just leaves me confused. But I'll get into that later.

This one follows the adventures of succubus Georgina Kincaid as she tries to have a relationship with the author Seth Mortenson. Alas, because sex with a succubus is not without some unwanted circumstances, those lovebirds have to settle for an unconsummated relationship. Georgina's human and paranormal buddies all scoff at the possibility of such a relationship lasting for long, but she's determined to prove them wrong. Seth understands, you see, about her being a succubus and all. However, things get complicated considerably when Bastien, an incubus from Georgina's past, shows up at the door asking for her help. Bastien wants to seduce a conservative radio talk show host and expose her in a most embarrassing manner to the public as a fraud. Working in close proximity with Bastien rekindles some naughty feelings in Georgina, oh dear.

Meanwhile, Georgina's colleague at the bookstore, Doug Sato, could be in trouble as his not-so-good band suddenly becomes very, very good after they find themselves a mysterious buddy who may be doing something sinister to these guys. I'm pretty sure I've come across that subplot before in a Goosebumps book, heh.

These are the two main storylines in Succubus On Top. The gang from the previous book like Carter the angel and Jerome, Georgina's boss who has a fondness of making himself look like John Cusack, are back along with some new characters like Bastien. This is a pretty fun story all in all, with Ms Mead inserting plenty of humor that has me chuckling from the first page, such as Georgina's bizarre award ceremony where she gets a trophy as well as Applebee's gift cards and free-rental coupons from Blockbuster for being the succubus worker bee of the quarter.

But there are some fundamental issues that puzzle me when it comes to this book. I have no problems with Georgina being a good gal but I am puzzled as to why she is allowed to get away with being a good gal by her superiors. In the last book, Jerome gave her a hard time towards the end for neglecting her succubus duties, but in this book, after she's received her award for being a hardworking little succubus, she falls back into her rut, apart from an occasional need to "feed" on anonymous blokes in a club or two, and Jerome doesn't seem to mind at all that she's back to her old routine. I'm also confused by Bastien's decision to seduce the talk show host. Even Ms Mead is aware of the contradiction as she has Georgina pointing out very late in the story that putting a stop to the woman's antics by exposing her as a hypocrite is actually a good thing instead of a stunt that furthers the cause of evil. So how come nobody in the upper management levels of Hell realizes this and puts a stop to Bastien's mission of seduction? Perhaps these people are just incompetent - Hell, being a pit of evil, is probably one big mismanagement from the top to bottom, who knows.

The whole "Georgina is a good gal/But why oh why is she still allowed to get away with running around with a boyfriend instead of seducing virtuous men 24/7?" issue keeps buzzing in my head and distracting me from fully enjoying this book. Even more disappointingly is how the subplot involving Doug and his band eventually gets resolved in a rushed manner that sort of fizzles out after all that build-up about the mysterious person backing the band.

Throughout it all, Georgina spends a lot of time pondering, agonizing, and sighing over her relationship with Seth. The thing is, where poor Seth paled in the shadow of the more interesting Roman in the previous book, the poor fellow is eclipsed by the more interesting Bastien in this book. The poor guy just can't win, I suppose, because once again I find myself thinking that Georgina loves him mostly because he's human. Loving him, I feel, is the closest poor Georgina will get to what she wants so badly to regain - her lost humanity. In this story, Georgina often verges on self-pity too much for my liking, what with her "feeding" on some random bloke and then never failing to spend the aftermath beating herself up for it.

I like this book. I really do. It's just that, if I haven't read Succubus Blues first, I suspect that I will have even more fun with Succubus On Top. As it is, this book suffers from some pacing issues and a lack of clarity as to what Georgina's responsibilities to her superiors are. Succubus On Top is an enjoyable story, but alas, it is somewhat of a disappointment when I compare it to Succubus Blues.

Rating: 79


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