2008, Vampire Romance
Signet, $6.99, 302 pages, Amazon ASIN 0451223861 Part of a series
I have mentioned in a past review that I prefer the lighter side of vampires, so Michele Bardsley's series about soccer mom vampires should be right up my alley. I had not read any of the previous books in the Broken Heart series, and, after reading Because Your Vampire Said So, I'm glad to have missed them.
Patsy Donahue's business as a hairdresser has gone downhill ever since she and the other single mothers of Broken Heart, Oklahoma were turned into vampires. She is at the point of sidelining in werewolf grooming to make ends meet. This is not the least of her problems; except for her vampire talents, Patsy's life is stereotypical white trash. Her alcoholic ex-husband is in jail, her son has a drug problem, she liked to smoke and drink before her paranormal conversion, and she lives in a trailer. So clichéd is her life that it is inevitable that she is destined for greater things (which is a cliché in itself). When she is attacked by a demon, Gabriel shows up claiming to be her protector - and mate.
Gabriel is a half vampire, half werewolf. What should be an interesting character, with the emotional scars left from a lifetime of belonging to neither the werewolf or vampire clans, is negated by the fact that we cannot get into his head as the story is told in first person by Patsy. We only learn what little he tells her, and he is too busy rescuing or making love to her to speak much. Patsy's life is in danger due to a prophecy that says she will become the queen of the vampires and werewolves once she hooks up with Gabriel.
The author inserts excerpts for Ruadan's journals. He is vampire zero, who then went about creating six other "ancients." His journals explain why these individuals were chosen to be vampires: Each has a special talent that they pass along to new members of their created families. Patsy's vampire gift is the ability to talk to and command the dead. In order to defeat those who want to kill her, Patsy must acquire the talents of all of the other ancients - flying, controlling demons, fire, liquids, and metals and finally, the gift of glamour, which seems like a skill a hairdresser would find useful.
Alas, I had the wrong definition of the word, (I had no idea that it also meant mind control) but it was too late, the damage had been done. <g> My first impression of the villain Koschei was of a snazzily dressed medieval metrosexual who lived in an impeccably decorated home - Dracula's castle without the cobwebs. Once that image gets into your head, it is impossible to get it out, and as a villain, Koschei loses all his street cred. And he can't rebuild his evil reputation by speaking like the bad guy in a grade B 1950s horror movie. The guy just doesn't have a menacing presence, and though one or two followers have some dangerous attitude, it reads more like showing off than actually instilling fear.
At the back of the book, the author has thrown in some extra information, including a list of the ancients and their special talents which seemed repetitious to me - wasn't that what Ruadan's journal entries in the book were for? There was also a glossary and list of vampire terms which would have been more useful if it had been placed in the front.
The author did have some humorous moments and witty dialogue and I enjoyed the characters of Nonna and Dottie, two ghosts who take up residence in Patsy's trailer. On the minus side, the author fell into the pitfalls of first person narrative - the hero is nothing more than anatomically correct Ken doll and the villains are cartoonish because the heroine takes center stage all the time. I still find the idea of soccer mom vampires amusing, but I won't be spending anymore time with those who inhabit Michele Bardsley's books.
-- Carolyn Esau
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