Every time I return to this series after several months away, I am immediately sucked right back in to all the things I love about it. It's funny. So, so funny. The plot is complex, but woven together so well it reads effortlessly. The romance is smoking hot; the hero: sexy, powerful and loyal. And Charley? She is as amazing as ever... a fascinating mix of strength and vulnerability, wrapped in a goofy exterior, completely void of a filter.
This book picks up just a couple of weeks after the events of Fourth Grave. Reyes is living next door to Charley, a constant source of temptation, but she is afraid he is the person setting fires to buildings around towns. After all, they are all places from his past. And he isn't helping her resolve, because he is making no secret of the fact that he wants her.
In the meantime, Charley is working a case. This one seems pretty simple, catching a cheating husband in the act. But as with all the books in the series, Charley's PI work is secondary to her job as the grim reaper. In that role, she is being swamped by dozens of dead blonde women who are too traumatized to speak. She needs to figure out who killed them, in the hopes that justice will help them find peace.
Meanwhile, fellow PI Swopes is working to unravel the mysteries of Charley's (and Reyes') existence. His trip to Hell may have been short, but it left a big impression. I love how Darynda Jones continues to reveal pieces of the bigger picture throughout the books. Every installment, we learn more.
I loved how the plot all came together. Darynda drops these little breadcrumbs along the way --and a red herring or two-- always keeping you guessing. Once you get to the end, you don't see it coming, but it all makes so much sense, you're kicking yourself for not seeing it sooner. Brilliant!
Of course, the romance is just as exciting as solving the mystery and the mountain of danger. The sexual dynamic between Charley and Reyes is completely off the charts. The temperature in the room goes up every time they are together. And when they are in the bedroom... wow. I was completely satisfied with the romantic element of the book. Their relationship has so many facets to it, and even after five books, they are nowhere close to boring. It feels like the rug can come out from under them at any moment.
Speaking of which... my only complaint... there is a pretty big revelation about Charley and Reyes half way through the book. One that I will absolutely not spoil. And I waited, terrified, to see how it all would play out. Only, it doesn't. The thread is completely dropped, seemingly to be continued in Sixth Grave. You don't just drop a bomb like that and then ignore it!!
PS -- The last line of the book is a total jaw-dropper. How am I going to wait until 2014?
Rating: B+*ARC Provided by St Martin's Press