I was first introduced to Kassandra Sims' novels through her previous book, Falling Upwards, which I found rather disappointing. Hellbent and Heartfirst starts off with much more promise as we meet Jacyn Boaz, a woman helping with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Jacyn
works with a relief agency to try to reunite people with their loved ones, working and playing hard and knowing that
she could have been one of these devastated and distracted people. When she meets handsome Jimmy Wayne Broadus, a Texan who loves barbecues, old jeans and his guitar, he seems like a great distraction to Jacyn. However, there's more to Jimmy Wayne than just a pretty face - it seems that he has a job hunting demons and other odd things, and Jacyn may have some information about a
lamia that is preying on young refugee children.
Unfortunately for this reader, after the story
sets up with some interesting characters and atmospheric descriptions, it peters out. After a small plot event,
the story moves on six months. Jacyn now lives in Nashville with some musical types,
and at this point the plot appears to have almost disappeared. Sims' writing style is still
strong in its evocative descriptions, interesting people and variety in events, but the lack of a coherent thread of plot means that the story feels aimless. There was great potential, but the supernatural element
is minimal, and many of the events that took place I didn't really understand. Like Falling Upwards, this is another disappointment.