Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: February 4, 2019
Received From: NetGalley
Dying isn’t what it used to be.
Wes Cooper was dead. Then he wasn’t—though he’s not exactly alive, either. As an immortal not-ghost, he can transition between this world and the otherplane, which makes him the perfect thief for hire. For seventy years he’s made a “living” returning items to their rightful owners, seeing his fair share of the bizarre in the process. But he’s never witnessed murder. Until now.
His latest mission brings him more than he bargained for: a very-dead actor who is definitely going to stay that way. It’s just Wes’s luck that his ex-boyfriend, Detective Hudson Rojas, is assigned to the case. Hudson broke Wes’s heart years ago—and could again, given he’s rocking a hot silver-fox look that shouldn’t be legal.
As they work together to track down the murderer before anyone else gets hurt, it becomes clear Wes and Hudson have unfinished business. And when a secret Hudson’s been keeping threatens more than just their happiness, it might mean the end of their not-life together—permanently.
SEXUALITY: demisexual, homosexual
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: homoromantic
TROPES: reunited exes, cop x criminal, slow burn, height difference, found family
TAGS: adult, contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, romantic suspense, romance, queer romance, queer characters, law enforcement, Black character (secondary), biracial character (secondary)
WARNINGS: death, violence, vomiting, cheating mention, anti-queerness, anti-fatness mention, ableism, gaslighting, alcoholism mention, car accident mention, parental death mention, mental illness (panic attack, depression), blood consumption, suicide mention, suicidal ideation, captivity, kidnapping, hospital visit, physical injury
Despite the thirty-three years of absence, my soul still recognized his as meaning safety.
Jenn Burke is a new to me author, and after reading NOT DEAD YET, she’s definitely one I will keep an eye on! I really enjoyed everything about this book–the characters, the plot, the demisexual representation, and more.
First, I’ll talk about the worldbuilding and plot. NDY is a contemporary, paranormal, romantic suspense novel, and all aspects of this label are done so perfectly well and work together incredibly beautifully. Wes is not quite human–in fact, he’s able to shift from the human plane to the otherplane, where he exists as a kind of ghost, due to being resurrected decades before. In addition to his magic and paranormal identity, this story includes witches, vampires, and several other paranormal beings to make up the main cast and supporting characters. And I love the way Burke modernizes and puts her own twist on the mythos behind all these beings! From Wes’ ghost-self, to vampires being able to walk in sunlight, to witches not being able to use their magic for personal gain. They’re still the paranormal beings that we recognize from mythology, but they’re brought into the 21st century with a more contemporary feel.
And in addition to all this, we have the wonderfully twisty plot! The story opens with Wes witnessing a murder and reluctantly calling his ex of 33 years, who happens to be a detective, in order to report that he witnessed the crime. Thus, a great romantic suspense plot begins! Wes and Hudson have to work together to try and solve the case, since it’s paramount that the existence of the paranormal remain hidden, and in the process begin to remember why they were together all those years ago and how much they still care about each other. Though they bicker throughout much of the novel, the undercurrent of the strong emotions they feel for each other sweeps them along as they investigate and, ultimately, solve the mystery of why so many people have died, who committed the crimes, and how it is, inexplicably, connected to Wes.
Next, we have the characters–all of whom are really great in their own ways! Of course Wes, who is funny and silly, but who is also able to be serious when warranted. He cares so deeply about his friends and would do literally anything to protect them how he can. Then, there’s Hudson–a man who is dedicated to doing good in the world and achieving what he can to make it a better place. He’s gruff and sarcastic and terrible at communication, but he’s got a heart of gold. Lexi is Wes’ best friend, and the great-granddaughter of the witch who brought Wes back to life, essentially binding him to their family as he feels he owes them a debt that can never be repaid. She’s smart and witty with a strong sense of what’s right and wrong, though this sense isn’t entirely bound by human laws. Finally, there’s sweet Evan who just wants so much to be wanted and needed, and when Wes gives him a home in the three of them, Evan would do anything for them. He’s a sweet kid who’s a bit lost and hurting, but he’s so determined to make things better for himself and you can’t help but root for him.
And the relationships that develop between all four of them are so lovely. There’s Wes and Lexi’s connection as best friends, which is already a fact at the beginning of the novel, and which just gets stronger with every page and interaction. Then, of course, Wes and Hudson, which is a slow burn reignited romance, but it’s also the start of a new friendship between them as they learn to trust and support each other once more. Wes and Evan are like partners-in-crime once they finally connect, and they form a little family with Hudson. Which is then widened as Lexi becomes more involved in helping them with the investigation and all four of them come to care about and rely on each other. By the end, the four of them have created a small, tight-knit group that you know will always be there for each other, and it was really wonderful to watch develop.
And speaking of the relationships, I just want to say how much I loved the demisexual representation within this book. It’s so beautifully done! The fact of Wes’ sexuality is woven into the narrative subtly but clearly, specifically mentioning that Wes has only been attracted to two men throughout his life and how that attraction developed only after they began getting to know each other. It’s mentioned a few times in the dialogue when Wes talks to Hudson, and while it’s never named as demisexuality on page, it’s incredibly clear that it’s Wes’ reality. And as someone who identifies as demi, the way it’s portrayed in the novel really spoke to me and made me feel super happy. It was heartwarming to see being demi so positively represented and embraced.
Finally, I just loved how effortlessly funny and entertaining the novel was. The humor was great and meshed well with my own, as did the sarcasm. And the scenes where a couple vampires ended up drinking Wes’ magical blood and end up getting high off it were hilarious. Like, literally making me laugh out loud and wiggle in my seat funny. It was really refreshing since so many paranormal books try so hard to be serious.
All in all, I really love this whole book, and I cannot wait for the next installment!
Jenn Burke has loved out-of-this-world romance since she first read about heroes and heroines kicking butt and falling in love as a preteen. Now that she’s an author, she couldn’t be happier to bring adventure, romance, and sexy times to her readers.
Jenn is the author of The Gryphon King’s Consort from Dreamspinner Press and the co-author of the critically acclaimed Chaos Station science fiction romance series (with Kelly Jensen) from Carina Press. She’s also the author of Her Sexy Sentinel, a paranormal romance from Entangled Publishing.
She’s been called a pocket-sized and puntastic Canadian on social media, and she’ll happily own that label. Jenn lives just outside of Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and two kids, plus two dogs named after video game characters…because her geekiness knows no bounds.