Better Off Dead: The Lily Harper Series #1 by H.P. Mallory
From New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, HP Mallory, Comes BETTER OFF DEAD, the first book in the Lily Harper series!
If there’s such a thing as luck, Lily Harper definitely doesn’t have it. Killed in a car accident before it’s her time to go, Lily learns that the hereafter isn’t exactly what she hoped it might be. First, there’s AfterLife Enterprises, the company responsible for sorting out the recently dead and sending them on their way to the Kingdom, (aka happily ever after, ) or to the Underground City, (not so happily ever after.) Learning that Lily’s death was indirectly their fault (her guardian angel, Bill, was MIA during her accident and was one of their employees, ) Afterlife Enterprises offers Lily the chance to live again. But, as with most things involving the afterlife, beware the fine print. Most notably, Lily will have to become a soul retriever, venturing into the bowels of the Underground City to retrieve souls that were mistakenly sent there by Afterlife Enterprises during a Y2K computer glitch. Second, there’s angel Bill. As if risking her second life in the Underground City wasn’t enough, Lily’s guide to the Underground is none other than her incompetent, alcoholic, womanizing guardian angel, Bill, the antithesis of anything wholesome. With only Dante’s Inferno and Bill to help her in her quest, Lily’s future isn’t looking bright. Finally, there’s the legendary bladesmith, Tallis Black. As Scottish as his kilts and heavy brogue, Tallis Black is a centuries-old Celt who, for reasons only known to him, offers to train Lily and act as her escort into the depths of the Underground City. Dark, brooding and definitely dangerous, Lily knows she shouldn’t trust Tallis, but she also can’t deny her attraction to him. Between soul retrieving in hell, dealing with Bill and trying to figure out what’s in it for Tallis, Lily wonders if maybe she would’ve just been better off dead.
The book trailer to introduced this new series is fantastic!
All of this cold, wet February weather was really starting to get to me, so I browsed through my library looking for a good plot with a romantic angle and plenty of humor. H.P. Mallory’s first book in her new Lily Harper series was exactly what I needed to pull me out of my funk. This was my first time reading H.P.Mallory’s work, and Better off Dead is a hilarious start to what looks like a delightful paranormal series with a future romance in the making. After Lily Harper dies in a car accident because her Guardian Angel failed to protect her, she chooses to continue “living” by working for AfterLife Enterprises as a soul retriever rather than waiting 100 years before she can get into the “Kingdom” or Heaven.
Although Lily can never return to her old life, she initially thinks her new life after death won’t be so terrible. In exchange for finding misplaced souls, AfterLife gives Lily a gorgeous new body, a luxury SUV, an apartment in Scotland, and nice bank account. However, before Lily even has time to get settled into her new life, she is given her first assignment- to retrieve a soul from the clutches of demons in the “Underground City.” Armed with only a copy of Dante’s Inferno and the help of her notoriously unreliable guardian angel, Bill, Lily treks into the dark, dangerous underworld on what is essentially a suicide mission unless she can enlist the help of bladesmith, Tallis Black, a formidable swordsman with the capabilities and experience to help her survive.
Mallory has created a quirky, disparate cast of characters who invigorate the storyline. Lily is a practical, intelligent, and resourceful young woman who recites motivational quotes whenever she is anxious or afraid. She’s far from the autonomous, “kick ass” heroine that I think she will become as the series progresses. Lily knows when she’s outmanned and outgunned and isn’t afraid to ask for help or negotiate in her quest to survive. She’s a kind and caring young woman who has just started her character arc, and I look forward to accompanying her on her journey toward self-awareness. When Lily chooses a physical body that she finds far more attractive than her previous one, I was a bit disappointed because her choice just reinforces our current society’s stereotype of beauty. However, Lily’s interactions with the zany but crass Bill and handsome but brooding Tallis show that she now has a different set of challenges and insecurities to deal with, such as proving to both males that she is more than just a “pretty face.”
Bill defies any and all ideas Lily has ever had about what an angel is like. His behavior is selfish, crude, and juvenile through much of the book, yet despite all my eyeball rolling, I cannot deny that Bill’s outlandishness spices up the story and provides some much needed comic relief to contrast with Lily’s anxiety and Tallis’s sullenness.
Tallis is an enigmatic man with a tortured past whose stoicism and mood swings often unnerve Lily and Bill later defines as “BMS: bitchy man syndrome.” The chemistry between Tallis and Lily is definitely there, but both of them still have quite a bit of growing to do before they are ready for a romantic relationship.
The title of the book Better Off Dead sounds depressing and morbid but really foreshadows the new life Lily is starting and her ironic discovery that only after she dies does she truly begin to live and really experience life.
In addition to great character development, Mallory does a good job in world building and setting up the framework for the series, but I did find the most climatic part of the plot, the most action-oriented and dangerous scenes, occurred much too quickly for my satisfaction. Nevertheless, this is a promising start to an engaging new paranormal series and I look forward to reading the next installment.
Source: Purchased E-book