Tour’s Books Blog

February 28, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Six Geese A-Slaying by Donna Andrews

Donna Andrews write two series, the Meg Langslow books, true cozy amateur detective, and the Turning Hopper books –  Turning is actually an artificial intelligence that ‘lives’ inside research programs. She’s won many awards, including the Lefty for the most humorous mystery. Six Geese A-Slaying breaks no new ground, but does a fairly satisfying job of telling a thin story in her 10th Meg Langslow outing. In this series every title has a bird, like Murder with Puffins, Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos, Owls Well the Ends Well (a personal favorite), and We’ll Always Have Parrots. She also has Meg age and evolve naturally through her relationship with now husband Michael Waterston, tenure track professor at Caerphilly College, actor in a B-grade ‘graphic novel’ based TV show, and all around easy going hunk. Alas, Michael is barely a supporting character in this tale.

It’s December 23rd and snowing in Caerphilly County, Virginia. Meg Langslow is “Mistress of Revels” and she sums up her feelings in the first line, “Bah humbug!” The fife and drum players are staging a battle of the bands with the bagpipers. The local animal activists are dressing up as the six geese – but there are about 30 of them. The three kings have to manage 3 camels instead of riding a float as planned and Balthazar, AKA Police Chief Burke, is not a happy king. The elephant is there to represent Dawali – this is a very politically correct parade. The Boy Scouts are camping in her field and they’re supplying the essential ‘clean-up’ services for all the animals. Santa is once again being played by the most hated man in town, Ralph Doleson, because he’s the only one who fits the Santa suit. Mrs. Claus is the wife of the Dean that will help decide if Michael gets tenure. Some damn reporter shows up unannounced to get a story and photos – and generally complain about being given such a lowly assignment. And did I mention it’s snowing – really, really snowing.

Getting this parade off on time is crucial. Then nephew Eric and his friend Cal Burke, the chief’s grandson, come running with the news that there’s something “wrong” with Santa. Meg heads to his ‘changing room’ – the pig shed – and Santa is dead. Luckily, cousin Horace, a crime scene specialist, is there – dressed as usual in his gorilla suit. Dr Smoot, the medical examiner and Police Chief Burke are also there – and frankly, the Chief is damn glad to be off that camel. Now Meg needs a new Santa and a new Balthazar. Meg’s dad has his own Santa suit from Christmases past and happily does his thing.  Mrs. Burke is a sport and dons her husband’s costume to be Balthazar and the parade goes on. Except the blasted reporter wants Meg to find his lost camera even though he’s just not sure where he was when he lost it – he realizes he now has an inside track on a front page worthy story.

The usual chaos ensues, Meg can’t resist getting nosy about the chief’s suspect interviews and then meddling by doing her own investigation. The big problem for me is, who did it is obvious by page 30 for any decent mystery fans. Still the ride is an entertaining one.

Andrews is doing better than Evanovich in holding the line of allowing the insanity to override the mystery, but some of the zany antics are getting all too predictable and repetitive. While this outing is a bit more humdrum than most of her stories, it’s still an entertaining bit of fluff.

My Grade: C+ to B- overall the series is C+ to A-

Who would enjoy this book: Fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, Ellen Byerrum, Kasey Michaels, and Lisa Lutz’s Spellman series. The rating is PG for the entire series.

BOOK REVIEW: Only Pleasure by Lora Leigh

Lora Leigh is a very prolific erotic romance writer and a highly successful one. Her Breeds books are popular paranormals, some of her better work in my opinion, and her Bound Hearts are popular ménage books, some with a D/s element. The Nauti series is more erotic mainstream, if there is such a thing. Her SEALS books are just ludicrous and have so many technical errors it’s annoying. Only Pleasure is actually part of the Bound Hearts series and follows the story of Chase Falladay, the twin brother and third in the Cameron Falladay story told in Wicked Pleasure. All of these books revolve around the men of the Trojans Club, a very private club for men who enjoy sharing their women, even their wives. Chase and Cameron Falladay provide security for the club in addition to being members themselves. Chase Falladay was one “hero” I despised in the first few pages and Kia Stanton – for a supposedly smart business woman – became an illogical annoying simp who makes bizarre, irrational decisions regarding how her ex-husband, an employee of her father’s company, is handled.

Kia Stanton’s husband Drew attempts to get her drunk and force her into a ménage with another man from the Trojan’s Club. She gets away, gets help and files for divorce. She was apparently unaware of his sexual preferences prior to marriage, so the whole ménage thing was a shock. Drew threatens her with the power of the men who are part of the Trojans Club if she tries using the incident as grounds for divorce. In the argument, he hits her. Kia, in distress over all that’s happened, tells a friend about the Trojans Club. The friend promptly starts spreading the rumor. (Well, duh! This is Washington DC, what else would happen?) But the Trojans protect themselves with their money and positions of power. They threaten the family business run by Kia’s father. Dad, one of the few real men in this book, is willing to lose it all if his daughter wants to fight her swine of her soon to be ex. With all this on her mind, Kia answers her door to find the Trojans very own enforcer – Chase Fallady – is making a house call.

Chase, supposedly the secret object of her fantasy desire, has been sent to ‘persuade’ – read coerce – Kia to humiliate herself even further by telling her friends she fabricated the story of the Trojans to hurt her husband. Now stop and think about this for a moment – a woman is victimized by a member of the Trojans Club with attempted rape with another member, then her husband hits her during an argument, thereby committing another felony, (more…)

February 27, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Armed and Glamorous by Ellen Byerrum

Ellen Byerrum is a Washington DC reporter, playwright, licensed PI in Virginia, and author of the Crimes of Fashion series, one of the more undervalued cozy series out there, in my opinion anyway. (Everyone who feels like a serious underachiever, raise your hand!) Her most recent title is Armed and Glamorous released in July of 2008. Her writing is crisp and very readable and she doesn’t detour into prolonged, unrelated tangents – and more importantly, her lead character isn’t a brain dead, self adsorbed, twit who heedlessly barrels thru crime investigations with no sign of intelligent thought. Lacey might be determined, and she certainly aspires to be more than a fashion reporter, but she’s not stupidly reckless.

Fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian of the Eye Street Observer has been told she’s doing a special article on divorcee socialite Cecily Ashton’s collection of designer originals prior to a showing at the Smithsonian Museum and Cecily herself is granting an interview. The rich really are different from everyone else – and Cecily is not exactly what she expected, but the clothes!!!!!!!!!! And Lacey knows her stuff. After all, she inherited very little except a trunk full of designer clothes and patterns from her aunt and she puts them to good use doing her job as the paper’s resident fashionist.

Boyfriend Vic Donovan is off at a conference, so Lacey decided it’s high time she got some training in how to do detective work.  Lacey does what any fashion reporter with a yen for the crime beat would do – she takes course with a local PI. A large sign reading, “NO LOADED WEAPONS IN THE CLASSROOM” should have been a hint that this was going to be more, er, unusual than she planned. The instructor is a friend of Vic’s, so she should be in good hands. The first night of class brings a real odd mix of folks together, from a shy retiring woman to would-be-Dog-the-bounty-hunter types. And much to her chagrin, her best friend Brooke’s conspiracy nut internet ‘journalist’ boyfriend, (more…)

February 24, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Jennifer Crusie is the pen name for Jennifer Smith, a former teacher and well liked humorous romance author with lots of popular books including the Temptation series, Getting Rid of Bradley (a personal favorite) and Tell Me Lies. Bob Mayer, a West Point graduate, is a former Green Beret and prolific bestselling author of the Area 51 series and other thrillers under several pen manes, most notably Robert Doherty. Agnes and the Hitman is the second collaboration of the two authors following the successful Don’t Look Down in 2006. I sincerely hope there will be more. Their two ‘hybrid’ books are less than completely acceptable to some Crusie fans, but I liked them a lot. There seemed to be less ‘Mayer’ here than in Don’t Look Down, but there was still enough to make Shane very realistic.

The book opens with Agnes Crandall on the phone to Joey, dinner owner, former mobster, and inspiration for her cookbook Mob Foods and many of her ‘Crazy Agnes’ food columns. As they talk, a stranger enters her house, points a gun at her and demands her dog! Incensed, Agnes does what any crazy woman with anger management issues would do, she throws boiling hot raspberry sauce on him and then smacks him with a frying pan. Her erstwhile thief and dognapper falls through a hidden door into her basement, breaking his neck. Agnes calls the police, but Joey calls his estranged nephew, Shane Smith, to ask for his help in guarding his ‘little Agnes’.

Shane Smith is in Savannah on a sanctioned hit for a secret government agency and is between surprised and shocked to hear from his long estranged Uncle Joey, the only family he has. Shane finishes his job and heads to “Fucking Keys, SC. Armpit of the South,” a place he left nearly 30 years ago. He slips into the house thru an open window, surprising Agnes who clobbers him with her favorite weapon – a frying pan. Once he convinces her she’s there to protect her, she sums up what’s happening – “I got Joey in the kitchen, a cop in the front hall, a dead body in the basement and you in my bedroom. Where do you want to start?”

Who wants Agnes dead and why? Why is her fiancé so distant? And why is Brenda, the former owner of Two Rivers, Agnes’ home, and her best friend Lisa Livia’s mother trying to sabotage the wedding plans of her granddaughter at Two Rivers? Will Agnes’ history of ‘assault with a frying pan’ get her arrested? What are they supposed to do with the two flamingos? Can Agnes keep her temper around her, lying, cheating, (more…)

BOOK REVIEW: Knock ’em Dead by Rhonda Pollero

Filed under: Amateur Sleuth,Book review,Mystery review — toursbooks @ 1:45 am
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Ronda Pollero, who also publishes under the name Kelsey Roberts, gives Finley Anderson Tanner a second outing as an amateur sleuth in Knock ‘em Dead. The first book, Knock Off, set up the cast of characters carried through here. Both are written in the same lighthearted style that lovers of Gemma Halliday’s High Heels mysteries know well and both authors mine very similar territory in the core characters and comic approach. Still, Pollero makes the book entertaining enough that you don’t mind all the cliché claptrap.

Accountant and investment broker Jane Spencer wakes up in her bed with her one night stand. The big problem is he’s cold and dead with a knife sticking in his chest – or it was there till Jane pulled it out. (Was there a part of ‘cold and dead’ she missed?) Instead of calling the police, she runs to friend Finley’s apartment dressed in her bloody La Perla ‘get lucky’ nightie and still tracking blood. (hummmmm, are you having the same trouble here that I am?) She takes off to seek refuge with friend, para-legal Finley. The police are called and end up arresting Jane for murder and Finley for being annoying. Finley gets out, but Jane is held without bond when an undisclosed prior assault charge comes to light. With friend Becky, a lawyer at Dane-Lieberman where Finley works, Finley sets out to investigate the murder and get her friend out of jail.

As with all amateur detective novels, you’re often left wondering at the stupidity of their actions. I realize that this type of book in particular is pure escapism, but still, I kept wondering if Finley could really be THAT stupid. Liam McGarrity, the handsome PI for Knock Off is back, as is Sam the neighbor in a very minor role, and Finley’s mother from hell – who would have had my sympathy if she weren’t such a manipulator. Finley is remarkably immature for a 30 year old woman, more focused on buying designer clothes and accessories than earning a living and making a life. That’s OK at 24, but by 30, shouldn’t she be growing out of it? Then again, the book is set in the Palm Beach, FL area and shallow-as-a-saucer is unremarkable there. Her redeeming virtue is her loyalty to her friends. Still, Finley would be far more likable if she matured a bit.

Aside from my personal issues with Finley’s Peter Pan act, the book moves at a good pace, has a sense of humor and a good plot that was just slightly predictable. I think Gemma Halliday, Ellen Byerrum, and several others do it better, but still, this is a good, light-hearted cozy.

My Grade: C+

Who would enjoy this book: Chick-lit, humor mystery, and quick read fans. Those who read Gemma Halliday, Ellen Byerrum, Kate Collins, and Cleo Coyle.

NOTE:  The paperback version is scheduled for release July, 2009.

February 23, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: A Very Private Enterprise by Elizabeth Ironside

Filed under: Book review,Mystery review — toursbooks @ 6:39 am
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Part of the Felony and Mayhem series of reprints of older mysteries, mostly cozies and all ‘veddy, veddy British’. A Very Private Enterprise was copyright 1984 but is written in the stately, slow pace of much earlier works and lacks both verve and color. Though the detective is a police Inspector, this is solidly in the cozy category. In fact, it is pretty much amateur hour all the way around. Had it been a period piece set in an earlier time, it would have worked far better, but Ironside is short on police technical expertise and procedures in the 1980’s. The writing had that uniquely stilted, formal style that was common with British authors in the 30’s and 40’s. (This is not surprising as Elizabeth Ironside is the pen name of Lady Catharine Manning.) Dialogue is minimal. Characters are from central casting and uninspired. Given the setting in New Delhi, it’s also surprisingly lacking in the kind of detail that gives a setting life. It deserved so much more atmosphere; the kind Elizabeth Peters can call forth in her Amelia Peabody mysteries set in Egypt in the early 1900’s, or Tony Hillerman with his Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn Navajo legend inspired mysteries.

Perhaps I’ve read far too many British cozies over the years, but I pretty much knew who did it and why by page 20. After the twists and turns, and some extra bodies, at the end, I was right. Still, there were enough red herrings and other distractions to keep me reading, though not without a certain amount of whining on my part with the sedate pace.

Hugo Frencham, Head of Chancery at the British High Commission in Delhi is stabbed to death in his bungalow garden within the Commission compound. His murderer is not immediately found and Inspector George Sinclair is dispatched from London to investigate. His is not an entirely welcome presence. After all, these are career Foreign Office staff with their futures on the line he just doesn’t seem sensitive to that.

A hidden cache of gold bullion, too much money in the banks back in England all acquired in the last few years, possible shady dealings in illegal currency exchange thru a bank in India, the visit from a Tibetan monk with a disreputable ‘art dealer’ asking about a ceremonial knife and small silver Buddha and Hugo’s relationship with a Russian diplomat in this pre-glasnost era raise all kind of questions. And then there’s the persistent speculation that Hugo was ‘gay’. Sinclair is also dealing with his attraction to Jane Somers, a ‘student of Tibetan’, even though he’s still married to the wife – and 5 children – he separated from 2 years earlier.

The double solution is not that big a surprise, but getting there is just agonizingly slow. In the end, I was just glad the story was done.

My Grade: D+

Who would enjoy this book: Fans of the duller English cozies. If you’ve read a lot of Dame Agatha Christie’s books, you’ll find this one well below her usual standard for her Miss Marple series. The rating for this book is GP.

February 22, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: The Assassin by Stephen Coonts

There are several books with the title The Assassin, including one by Andrew Britton that’s sitting in my ‘to be read’ pile. Don’t believe me? Just do a search on Amazon or Barnes and Nobel for books with ‘Assassin’ in the title. The Assassin for this review is Stephen Coonts’ version and once again Admiral (ret) Jake Grafton and the reformed thief turned CIA operative Tony Carmellini are teamed up to thwart terrorist Abu Qasim and world class assassin Kahdir.

Anyone who follows Stephen Coonts is familiar with Jake Grafton from books like Hong Kong, Cuba, and Liberty. Carmellini has the lead here as he did in the Coonts’ novels, Liars and Thieves and The Traitor. The breezy and irreverent first person narrative makes for easy reading, but can’t hide the many technical flaws in the plot – like breaking high level encryptions in minutes.

The story begins well enough when the son of a very wealthy American, Hunting Winchester, dies in Iraq as he tries to save a woman trapped in a car rigged with an explosive device. A grieving father, seeking to give his son’s death meaning, makes an offer to his old friend, the president – a group of businessmen are prepared to use their resources and fortunes to hunt down otherwise unreachable terrorist operatives – and damn the laws. Hummmmmmm The president sends Jake Grafton.

The trap starts with the illegitimate daughter of wanted terrorist, Abu Qasim, who is married to a French government official. Marisa Petrou is to all appearances totally uninvolved in anything to do with her father. In fact, she might not even be Qasim’s daughter, but the CIA thinks (more…)

February 21, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: A Deadly Silver Sea by Bob Morris

I see a title like A Deadly Silver Sea and the first thing I think of is Travis Magee, John D. MacDonald’s iconic Florida investigator. Perhaps Morris was trying to channel MacDonald and Magee into this book. He missed and got Speed/Speed 2 and Keanu Reeves instead.

Bob Morris kicked off his Zack Chasteen series with Bahamarama, followed by Jamaica Me Dead, and Bermuda Schwartz. The first two books were B to B+ territory with Bermuda Schwartz a B-. Solid and entertaining enough that I bought this book in hardcover shortly after release. Unfortunately, something that started out with a decent plot took a strange left turn and the denouement was just downright silly.

Zack Chasteen, former NFL’er, ex-con (he was pardoned and paid off) and his wife, classy and very pregnant travel magazine editor, Nancy Pickering are being treated to an inaugural cruise aboard the ultra exclusive Royal Star. This state of the art super deluxe luxury ship has every comfort and safeguard in place, but didn’t count on a sleeper agent in the engine room. Soon, the crew not a part of the takeover are dead, the passengers are rounded up, men and women separated, and heavily armed crew members are taking money and jewelry away. Zack ends up trapped in a cabin with the slimy businessman Ron Diamond, who tries to buy his way off the ship, abandoning passengers to their fate, the elderly Royal Star designer Hurku Linblom and Kane Kinsey, a not very bright, but very good looking actor.

Zack starts doing what he does best – always trying to figure a way out. Everything goes well to page 133, where Zack jumps overboard to avoid getting shot by a trigger happy crew member. Zack survives his fall to the sea and watches the ship disappear as he fruitlessly tries to catch it. From here on, Zack’s tale gets completely unbelievable. Suffice it to say he eventually gets picked up, convinces his rescuers to go after the ship, finds the ship, catches the ship and gets back on board. At this point I was flashing back to Speed 2, one of the worst movies of all time.

Morris paints an unflattering but all too believable picture of the cruise industry and he has a secure grasp on the technology he plays so deftly with on the ship. Unfortunately, this was not one of Morris’ best efforts at plotting and the action/thriller sections were just not compelling enough to overlook their fundamental absurdity.

As the action moves between Zack and the others, the book jumps between first person and third person narrative. It’s a little distracting. Will I buy the next book in hardcover? Not if there is any mention of a terrorist. I would deeply appreciate it if Zack and Morris left the terrorists to Mitch Rapp and Vince Flynn.

My Grade: C-

Who would enjoy this book:  Fans of James Bond, action movies starring Dennis Hopper, Keanu Reeves or Sandra Bullock, and action/thriller readers.  The Rating is PG-17

February 20, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: The John Rain Series by Barry Eisler

Rain Fall My Grade: A-

Hard Rain My Grade: A

Rain Storm My Grade: A

Killing Rain My Grade: A-

The Last Assassin My Grade: B+ to A-

Requiem for an Assassin My Grade: B-

Have you read Solo by Jack Higgins? Shibumi by Trevanin? If you have, sit back, relax and meet the heir – John Rain, assassin extraordinaire.

The product of a Japanese father and American mother, Rain never belonged in either country. As a young man he joins the US military and shows a real aptitude for killing. Part of a Special Forces team, he ends doing work for the CIA. Living and working in that ‘grey zone’ where right/wrong and good/evil gets blurred, his own instincts save him. He ‘disappears’, moves to Japan, even goes so far as to have surgery to make himself appear more ‘Japanese’. Here he lives a shadow life and makes his living as an assassin for hire specializing in ‘natural’ deaths. Killing someone is easy. Killing someone and making it look like a natural death is art.

From page one, Rain Fall captivates and holds the reader. It is an unusually well written combination of action and intrigue with the kind of rich, compelling, textured backdrop of locations and characters that is rare in a genre that typically forsakes depth for action. It begins with the death of a government official in a subway during rush hour and just does not quit. Trust no one and cover your back. Written in the first person, Rain is a compelling narrator. Eisler’s ease with the Japanese setting comes from years living in the country.

Hard Rain sees Rain having tough choices to make. His affair with jazz pianist Midori ended when she learned who and what Rain was. Tatsu, the shrewd and manipulative police official who seems to be both friend and mentor to the assassin, wants to use him for his own ends. The murky world of Japanese politics and crime lords are front and center once again as a Yakuza leader is targeted and escapes. Midori ends up being responsible, indirectly, for the death of one of Rain’s friends.

With both the Yakuza and the CIA after him, an injured Rain flees to Brazil which is where book 3, Rain Storm, starts. The CIA makes an offer of much needed money he can’t refuse that lures him back to Asia to track the activities of an unscrupulous arms dealer (is there any other kind?). This book introduces two more recurring characters – the beautiful Israeli spy Delilah, who has her own agenda and Dox, short for unorthodox, a giant of a sniper with an extrovert’s personality that grates on the assassin who lives by clinging to anonymous shadows. Yet Dox may end up being the one thing that Rain does not have, a friend.

Killing Rain, fourth in the series, has the assassin asking himself some hard questions. Rain is hired by the Mossad to take out a renegade Israeli scientist, now terrorist for hire and bomb expert, before the man can transfer any more technical expertise and training to radical Islamic militants. Partnering with Dox again is not entirely comfortable for loner Rain. Then he misses his chance at a quick take down and ends up signaling the target he’s being hunted. To makes matters worse, he kills two bodyguards to escape. Unfortunately, the guards are former CIA and part of renegade operative Jim Hilger’s operation. Now Rain is targeted by a furious Hilger.  The very annoyed Mossad no longer trusts him to do the job so he’s on their hit list too. Where does Delilah stand? The action once again moves across Asia and brings Rain, Dox and Delilah to Hong Kong. There Rain and Hilgar again cross paths. The ending here has Rain thinking of retirement and the son he wants so much to see.

The Last Assassin brings Rain back to Japan to settle old scores. He cannot go to Midori and his son until his past is put to bed. To do that, he ends up having to call in his friend Dox. Eisler moves back to the shady underworld of Yakuza and Chinese triads in Japan for this novel. Delilah comes in to help out as a lure for the Yakuza boss with a weakness for tall blondes. His old friend Tatsu may be dying, but he’s still pulling Rain’s strings. The ending has Rain and Midori finally see each other again and it sees that all of Rain’s ghosts are finally laid to rest – one way or another. I was left feeling the author intended this to be the last book in the series, and it would have served as a perfect coda for Rain, but was convinced by his publisher to write another.

Requiem for an Assassin brings Rain back into the game when Dox is kidnapped by Hilger to force Rain into carrying out a series of assassinations or Dox is dead. Rain has to get rid of people involved in a deep black CIA operation that might not have had official sanction. Thing is, he’s now on American soil and not at all happy about it. Of all the John Rain novels, I liked this book the least. It felt like Eisler lost his mojo. It’s a good read, all the necessary twists and turns, lies and half truths, but the magic is missing. The intangible something that raises a book from good to WOW! Eisler seems less engaged with his story and his characters here. I guess it’s so noticeable because his previous entries were so strong.

Though the last book is the weakest, for me at least, all of the series is so much better than just about anything getting written in the thriller genre these days, they rank as DO NOT MISS!

The John Rain series would all be rated R

Who would enjoy these books: Readers of Jack Higgins, Trevanian, Eric Van Laustbader’s Ninja series, Frederick Forsyth, and Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne.

NOTE: The paperback books are eligible for Amazon’s 4-for-3 promotion

BOOK REVIEW: How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks

I confess I’ve been on a ‘fun with vampires’ binge lately. The mysteries have become too predictable and the thriller/espionage books of any quality getting fewer and further between. Searching for something different led to the saturated market for vampire books. Like the breezy Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands, Kerrelyn Sparks’ Staked series is ‘vampire light’ and played as romance, not horror, though they do have a darker side notably absent from Sands’ books. Sparks’ books holds the more traditional kind of vampire with the daylight death sleep, silver is toxic, never eat food and death by sunlight. How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire is the first in the series.

Roman Draganesti is an old vamp that never lost his conscience or his fundamental humanity. He is also the inventor of artificial blood, a life saving medical breakthrough that has made him rich and allowed vamps to dine on things like ‘Fusion Cuisine’, Blisskey (whisky and blood) and many other vampire foods. Always looking to improve vampire quality of life, a researcher in his company comes up with a lifelike mannequin that has circulating blood so vamps can put the ‘bite’ back in their meals. He presents the Vampire Artificial Needs Nutritional Appliance – VANNA – to Roman and invites him to give her a test bite. Drawn by the irresistible smell of circulating blood, Roman sinks his fangs into VANNA’s throat – and that’s when the fun starts.

Roman finds an all night dentist, Jane Wilson, and goes to have his fang implanted before dawn catches him and his gums heal making him a one fanged vamp. Unfortunately, Jane faints at the sight of blood. Then the Russian mob shows up. Roman teleports to a safe roof top with his still loose fang and the out cold dentist. Seems she’s a witness to a mob hit and is in protective custody, a kind of witness protection, till she testifies. She’s Shanna Whelan and Roman decides to save her so she’ll save his fang. Sparks does a good job of spinning the tale of Shanna and Roman while setting the stage for her series. The story is clever and has enough meat to keep the reader entertained for the full 370 pages.

It’s hard not to like the key players in this book. Though a certain level of predictability is there, the book still does its primary job of entertaining with ease. I’ve read two more of the series, Be Still My Vampire Heart (Book 3) and The Undead Next Door (Book 4). Both are solid C+ to B- books, though not quite as good as the first.

My Grade: B

Who would enjoy these books: Vampire fans who read authors like Lynsay Sands, or fans of Julie Garwood’s modern romance who’d like to give vampire books a chance. My Rating is PG-17 NOTE: The entire series is elegible for Amazon’s 4-for-3 promotion

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