I was anticipating more mystery than erotica and was pleasantly surprised by how anti-erotica it was for me.Most erotic paranormals attempt real mystery and fall far behind, wanting to focus so much on the sex and the whole mystery thing becomes back drop and cheapened. But Dead to the Max, I think, did really well in staying out of that description.The huge difference for me was that real emotional struggles were happening in every ‘sex scene.’ So even though this is listed as an erotic romance, it’s not nearly on the same level as most are. Sure, the sex is there, but the mystery that involves itself are all sex-based crimes in some way. So it’s all very “SVU” type feeling with the graphicness, and none of it was cheap filler. None of it is ‘just sex.’ Max bares her soul every time; there’s much more meaning behind the act than what most authors create.Max is definitely not your usual lead for this kind of book. All her faults, every flaw, and her weaknesses are completely posted to the reader. She does not come off as a hero at any point. Also, she’s not really the whiny, woe-is-me kind of girl, either. Her relationship with Cameron is raw and gives so much depth to her early on. And it’s definitely an interesting relationship. Even though he’s dead and knows what she’s thinking, they still play the verbal mind-play games. As a reader, I was continually struggling with Max in trying to figure out if she really is psycho or psychic. Cameron’s presence really highlights the few ‘hero’ moments that Max does have.The mystery itself was well done. All of the suspect characters were really interesting, and Max’s insight into reading people were very informative in giving the reader a better perspective within the small window you have to read about the character without needing to deviate from Max’s point of view.I was definitely surprised with how much I enjoyed this. Max is holding what is traditionally a kick-ass heroine lead in a very non-traditional way. Her lacking in so many areas that are normally all strengths for female leads gives me something more interesting to read. Her conflicts with her own life and how her psychic abilities puts her in a position to heal both herself and other women is definitely different. So I’m definitely looking forward to continuing the series.The characters are well written. The plot continues effortlessly. While I see some reviewers think the sex is too much or too descriptive, I don’t see it like that. The way the sex scenes are written put a more psychological twist to what is normally no more than cheap smut or filler, which is why I mentioned it more as an anti-erotica.At first I had in 4 stars. I think it was because I was almost disappointed at how much Max was an anti-hero at some points, but by the end of the book, and writing out this review, I feel like I ‘get’ her now. There’s just as much mystery in figuring out Max and wondering how or when or if she might ever dive into her own issues. I don’t really have a reason to knock it from 5 stars.