Monday, July 20, 2009

Scythe by MK Mancos

TITLE: Scythe
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 69k)
GENRE: Paranormal romance
COST: $5.50

Keely Montgomery works as a bartender while trying to finish her PhD, so the last thing she need is another job. Especially a job as one of Heaven’s Scythes, separating human souls from their human bodies to finish their journey in peace. She wants to refuse, except He doesn’t take no for an answer. When Detective Josiah Adler spots a gorgeous blonde wielding a golden blade over a dead body, he expects foul play, not untouched bodies and a woman who drives his senses crazy. He races to find out the truth, Keely races to try and cover her tracks, and someone else entirely is after her to switch sides…

NOTE: This is a review originally written for Uniquely Pleasurable.

I love being taken by surprise. Before this novel, I’d read two shorter works by this author (under a different pseudonym) that I enjoyed but wouldn’t necessarily consider keepers. So when I chose to read this, I honestly thought it would probably be more of the same – pleasant and escapist for the time I was reading. What I got was a funny, fast-paced escapade that had me racing through the pages, laughing out loud, and smiling like a loon for the vast majority of the story.

Keely Montgomery is twenty-nine, sharp and yet soft-hearted. What I love the most about her is how it feels like she has both her head and her heart in exactly the right places. She’s not one of those heroines who sacrifices smarts to do the right thing, or avoids emotional conflicts because she talks herself out of it. It’s a terrific balance, and best of all, never feels artificial. Almost from the beginning, Keely feels like someone I’d want to hang out with. She’s got a great sense of humor, she’s not perfect, and she cares. Wins all the way around.

Often in romances, I’ll find myself liking one of the two leads more than the other, investing in the romance because of a hero I like or a heroine I admire. Not so here. Josiah holds his own against Keely, proving just as funny and irresistible. He’s focused on doing the right thing, obsessing over a young Goth named Midnight who he’s convinced is behind a string of murders, and yet, it never seems over the top or unwarranted. He’s bound by his honor and the rules of his job, bending them only when it makes the most sense, and it’s this same determination he brings to his interest in Keely that draws you in. These two are a perfect match for each other, and getting to witness their interactions is the heart of this fantastic story.

It’s boosted by the cast of vibrant characters that surround the two principals. Samson, Keely’s preceptor, cracked me up from his very introduction. If he ever got his own book, I’d be all over it in a hot second. I can’t really think of a flat character in the bunch. Even Pugsley, Josiah’s English bulldog, has his own distinct personality, as entertaining and memorable as any human – or heavenly creature – in the story.

The plot itself moves at a brisk pace, with Keely slowly training in her job as a Scythe while the mysterious competitors, Death Inc., try to recruit her. It never lags, and if occasionally the depiction of Heaven as a corporate ideal seems a tad too cutesy, it’s done with aplomb. I did get hung up a couple times on editorial mistakes (the line, “Don’t pout. You’ll get winkles.”, made me laugh hysterically for five minutes because I’m pretty darn sure the author was not talking about sea snails), but in the grand scheme, when the characters are this entertaining and I’m having this good of a time, that’s really a minor complaint. I’m keeping this rollicking, wonderful book, and I’m on my way to give her other work a much closer look.


9/10 – Only the minor editing errors got in my way on this


8/10 – Determined, funny, and downright irresistible


8/10 – Relatable, funny, and tough without losing her humanity

Entertainment value

9/10 – A rollicking good time with an incredibly vibrant cast of characters

World building

9/10 – There was a certain patness to some of the Heavenly organization, but I had fun with it anyway



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