Robin T. Popp
2007, Paranormal Romance
Grand Central, $6.99, 336 pages, Amazon ASIN 0446617857 Part of a series
I was going to give Popp's latest a somewhat higher grade until I went back to re-read a bit to refresh my memory. Every frustrated arghh! returned tenfold. A heroine who is supposed to be kick-ass but who's nothing but a bratty, immature, frequently foolish wannabe, one more noble vampire hero who nobly doesn't drink human blood (he makes do with pig's blood) and a Big Misunderstanding that could have been cleared up with one further question (but isn't because then there would be no book!) and you'll get why a somewhat better last third didn't outweigh all the irritation I felt as I read.
Kacie Renault's parents were brutally killed by vampires when she was a child. She was saved by her father's friend Gerard, who raised her as his own daughter. Being saved didn't mean that Kacie forgot the traumatic events of her childhood. Instead they honed in her a desire to avenge her parents. To that end she trained for years to be a vampire slayer. But her biggest challenge came in finding out at the age of 16 that her trainer, Erik Winslow, was himself a powerful vampire.
Erik Winslow has been a vampire for hundreds of years and accepts his lonely life. The one bright spot was watching over Kacie as she grew into a woman. When she stopped coming home because of a falling out with her adoptive father, Erik realized it was probably for the best. His feelings seemed to be confirmed when she dropped back into his life and immediately killed one of his best and oldest friends. Her actions set the nearby lair of vampires (determined to avenge the death)on her trail, and Erik must do everything in his power to protect Kacie.
For all that Erik is a character we've seen before - master vampire with master powers who doesn't use them for bad things but instead kills other vampires who do - he still was the more interesting of the two protagonists. And that's because I actually liked him. He's honorable without being over-the-top and he has the patience of a saint (can vampires be saints?) when it comes to Kacie. Which brings me to the second half of this couple. Kacie is immature, bratty, and at various times during the book, about as TSTL as you can get. Erik tells her that a lair of very powerful vampires wants to kill her and not to leave the house at night. What's the first thing she does? Basically sticks out her tongue and declares "you can't tell me what to do, nah nah nah" (I'm paraphrasing). She goes out and of course needs to rescued by Erik. After that first time you'd think she'd learn a little something. Not so much. Sure she leaves the house during the day but then proceeds to stay out until after dark. At one point in her investigations she decides it's so close to dark, and she's already out anyway, why not stop for some dinner in the local pub (where she's already run into trouble!)?
If Kacie's stupid behavior weren't bad enough, her general emotional immaturity sealed the deal. At 16 she learned that the man training her to be a vampire slayer was in fact a vampire himself. That would be a shock, and I could easily imagine the conflicted feelings she might have. But, and here's the biggie...she then trains for five more years with Erik who not once exhibits any evilness and in fact goes out of his way to help Kacie in any way he can. Think that'd have a softening effect? Not so much. And when I considered the generally confusing vampire rules having to do with whether they're made by a chupacabra (don't ask) or are the progeny of other vampires my grade slipped a little lower.
Because the last section of the book finally picked up steam and allowed Kacie to actually grow a bit, I did finally end the book on a slightly positive note. Will I return for more by Robin T. Popp? Definitely not. But there are inklings of something there.
-- Jane Jorgenson
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