February 2008, Vampire Romance
Avon, $6.99, 371 pages, Amazon ASIN 0061229695 Part of a series
I bought one of Sands’ Argeneau books from Borders right before I received her latest to review. I felt a little bold spending money on an author I hadn't yet read – I usually use gift certificates or used book credit to test the waters. So naturally, I really disliked Vampires Are Forever. On the positive side, my personal rules about trying new authors were vindicated, but on the bad side, I now have to drive my unused book all the way back to Borders and I could really use the gas money for something else.
When Marguerite Argeneau doesn’t check in with her family for several days in a row, her loved ones start to panic. They know that she should be calling – her daughter is about to have a baby – so Thomas Argeneau (her nephew) gets dispatched to London to track her down. Inez, the VP of the UK operations of the family company, is called in to help Thomas while in the country. Inez is rather disgusted with Thomas at first, thinking him a rude slacker, but as a businesswoman first and foremost, she puts aside her feelings and buckles down to work.
Thomas traces Marguerite’s phone to Amsterdam shortly after arriving in London and must immediately jump on another plane to follow the lead. This would be fine, except a courier has not yet brought his cooler of blood, and with all the commotion, he hasn’t drunk very much in the last couple days. While discussing the problem with his cousin Bastien, it is suggested that he just drink from Inez. He can easily take what he needs and wipe her memory so that she’ll be none the wiser. Thomas doesn’t take kindly to the advice, but it does have some merits and he’s really craving some sustenance.
So, he bites her and she clearly enjoys it, but when the moment comes to erase the memory, Thomas finds that he can’t read her mind at all. Inez immediately starts freaking out and locks herself in the bathroom, and all Thomas can think is that the woman screaming bloody murder at him is his lifemate, the person meant to be his partner through the centuries. Meanwhile, Inez puts clues together and realizes that she works for a nest of vampires. Luckily, she calms down enough to listen to his explanation of what immortals are.
This book could have been at least half its length, maybe even a third. The author's use of unnecessary action language made the story tough to read. For example, rather than saying that Inez answered a phone, she would reach into her purse, find the phone, flip it open, and press the answer button. Excessive repetition also ran rampant. Things were often said twice and sometimes three times. Phone calls added to this issue. Thomas would say something to Bastien, then turn and tell Inez the exact same thing, and sometimes it would come up again during an inner monologue. Drawing everything out like this made me feel like the author didn’t know where the story was going or maybe just didn’t have enough material to cover a 350-page book. It also seemed like I, as a reader, wasn’t considered smart enough to remember information the first time it was mentioned and I kept wanting to shout, “I know this already!”
The rules of the immortal world were described in great detail, taking up a large portion of the book, and I couldn’t help but wonder what someone who’s read the other books would think while slogging through all this stuff they already knew. The science of how the immortals came to be was certainly interesting, but it also took away from some of the passion inherent in vampire lore. It brought everything down to a very human level, which made the moments when an immortal hisses or growls hard to understand. I also really disliked the image of an immortal “slapping a bag to his teeth” at least four times a day. Their teeth are like straws that apparently involuntarily suck the blood for survival. But I couldn’t find anything sexy about a guy standing there with a plastic blood donor bag hanging from his teeth. At least in shows like Buffy, the vampire transfers the blood to a mug or wine glass, which makes the image much more suave.
I wasn’t attached to the characters at all. Thomas was unmemorable and lacking in personality. The only things that stood out were his use of the word “dude” (which didn’t last) and his penchant for referring to his most private part as “Little Thomas.” Neither of these things acted as pluses in my book. Inez had more personality, but she was self-deprecating to the point of annoyance. Throughout the book she made disparaging remarks about herself - now I understand why guys don't like it when girls do that. It's so unattractive.
Luckily, when the action finally kicked in at the end, the repetition and unnecessary verbiage dropped away for the most part, but that action didn’t come close to making up for the book’s other faults. There was the standard reappearance of all the previous characters, although most of them didn’t do anything but inhabit the same space. However, their arrival heralded the end of Vampires are Forever, which I did appreciate. I may try The Accidental Vampire, the author’s DIK-graded book, but if I do, it’ll be a copy from the library.
-- Andi Davis
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