Earthly Pleasures by Karen Neches is the story of Skye Sebring, a new soul who works in the Hospitality Division of Heaven. Newly created, she has yet to experience life on Earth, preferring the experiences of simply welcoming the recently deceased into Heaven. After all, on Earth, would she be able to use her WishBerry to order up a dirty martini anytime she wants? I don’t think so!
Skye is completely happy with her life in Heaven – until Ryan Blaine appears in her office. An extremely handsome lawyer who is constantly featured on Heaven’s reality show, Earthly Pleasures, Blaine is only in Skye’s office for a minute before the defibrillators return him to his physical body on Earth. Intrigued by their meeting and the fact that he seems to recognize her as someone else, she begins watching Blaine on Earthly Pleasures and becomes more and more attached to him as she tries to decipher the mystery of who she reminded him of. It becomes even more of a puzzle when she realizes that she resembles his wife, Susan. As the tale unfolds and the multiple storylines come together, the reader is drawn into the mystery of Skye’s past. And just who is Susan Blaine?
Light, funny, and incredibly creative, Earthly Pleasures is an absolute joy to read. The characters are extremely well-written; the reader roots for Skye immediately. The mystery adds a sense of urgency to the novel and brings it one step above other books. The reader tries to distinguish the lies from the truth and read between the lines to figure out what is really going on. Neches is brilliant in that respect. She adds just enough of every element to make the perfect book. The mystery isn’t overwhelming; instead, it’s fun and piques the reader’s curiosity. She doesn’t go overboard in her creativity. Heaven is an interesting place, and I want to know more about her interpretation of it. But there is no skimming due to overly detailed descriptions or long, boring imagery. The book is funny but doesn’t try too hard. It seems very natural and completely believable. Neches also manages to add depth to the novel, sometimes difficult to do in this chick lit genre. It is not a fluffy story about Heaven but a true, deep love story between two people which transcends time, space, and everything else as we know it.
The only complaint that I have about Earthly Pleasures is that it is too short. At the end of the book, I was left wanting more. I certainly hope that Neches plans on revisiting this story in order to deliver a sequel, because my imagination isn’t nearly as exciting as hers. I would love to know what happens next.
Anyone can enjoy Earthly Pleasures for its simplicity and wit while appreciating the well-written characters and mysterious storyline. Neches’ view of heaven is appealing and humorous, enough to make anyone hope that it actually resembles the true Great Beyond. I highly recommend Earthly Pleasures – trust me, it’ll only take one sitting!
Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Swapna Krishna, 2008