Tour’s Books Blog

April 11, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: You’re So Vein by Christine Warren

Christine Warren’s urban fantasy series The Others got its start as Fantasy Fixed, an erotic urban fantasy romance series published by Ellora’s Cave.  She re-wrote the first of the Fantasy Fixed series, called it One Bite With a Stranger, and annoyed both her current Others fans and those who liked the Fantasy Fixed books.  I read both versions, Fantasy Fix and One Bite.  I think Fantasy Fix actually made more sense.  The re-write tried to reconcile erotic romance and mainstream romance and that takes more than watering down the sex.  The original had an edge and darker cast to it that the re-write lacked, plus the light BDSM elements just could not transfer easily.  Even the character of Graham changes considerably from the original.

Unfortunately, both the print and the ebook versions of her Fixed series have disappeared from the Ellora’s Cave website.  I snagged all but book 2, Graham and Missy’s story.  I’m looking for a print copy, but no luck so far.  I found Fantasy Fix at Alibris.  The Fixed series was centered around 5 close friends, Regina, Missy, Danice, Corinne and Ava and their agreement to get fixed up on a date to fulfill their fantasies.  The books were:

Fantasy Fix (which was re-released and extensively revised as One Bite with a Stranger) – Misha & Reggie
Fur Factor – Graham & Missy
Faer Fetched – Mac & Danice
Fighting Faer – Luc & Corinne

The next book, one of my personal favorites, did not involved ‘the girls’ but added Tess and Rafe

Fur For All – Rafe  & Tess

The last book at Ellora’s Cave, Fur Play,  featured Graham’s second in command, Logan, of the Silverback Clan of Werewolves and an Alpha female who inherits the leadership of a clan that owes fealty to the Silverbacks.  It is pretty much unrelated to either the Fixed or the Others series.  It is still avaiable as an ebook at Ellora’s Cave as of today.

You’ve no doubt noticed that Ava Markham never got a book.  She showed up repeatedly in other of the Fixed series, even Fur for All, which did not involve any of the original 5 friends as a main character.  She rarely shows up in the Others.  Of the original 5 play big parts there, only Missy is a regular in The Others.  Tess’s character is substantially different in the Others than in Fixed and Graham and Rafe put in regular and sometimes substantial appearances.

In You’re So Vein Ava finally meets her mate, and he’s not at all what she wants.  Not that she ever wanted a mate.  Ava might still love her friends, but she has trouble accepting their choices in mates.  She feels that each has had to give up too much of themselves, change who and what they are to become mates with these ‘Others’ – Regina most of all.  Reggie, her closest friend, became a whole different species, a vampire, for her husband Misha.  The antagonism Ava feels toward their beloved husbands distresses her friends no end, but her dislike of Misha is the strongest and most vocal.  Somehow, perhaps Ava’s pure cussedness at giving them up, has kept them in touch.  Of the 5 friends, it was Ava who was most like a force of nature.  Ava is smart, savvy, determined, self-contained, aloof, tenacious as a badger, not to mention drop dead gorgeous.   Ava built a highly successfully business representing models with money she made as a model herself.  She does not intimidate easily and really does not like taking orders.

After another of her usual uncomfortable ‘girls nite out’ she persists in attending even though she feels less than completely welcome these days, Ava walks home.  Lost in her thoughts, a bit angry, a little bitter, at how things have come to where they are with her friends and the awkward relationship they now share, she’s not paying attention to her surroundings.  Suddenly, she’s attacked by a vampire close to her home.  Vladimir ‘Dima’ Rurikovich was up on a roof hunting an escaped vampire prisoner when he realized what was happening.  Reluctantly, he comes down to help her.  Too late.  He kills the rogue vampire after learning just enough to know he’d been turned by the lunatic vampires he’s hunting.  He checks Ava, expecting to find her dead, but she’s hot to the touch, almost feverish.  Ava bit her attacker and got just enough blood in her mouth to start the transition.

Dima had two choices, abandon Ava to her fate and a painful transformation – if she even survives it, or do what he can to help her.  Despite the rules of the European Vampire Council, which are clear about fledglings, and knowing he was getting himself in a world of trouble by giving the woman help, he takes her to his loft, gives her his blood to help in her conversion.   When she’s finally conscious again, Dima explains what happened.  Ava initially refuses to believe him.  It could NOT have happened to her.  This part of the book is a bit weak.  Ava’s well established aversion to Mish and Reggie’s conversion should have made this a bigger psychological issue for her, not a fairly easy acceptance she eventually yields to.

Reggie and Missy use the GPS system in her phone to find her in the loft.  After some discussion, including a pointed one about what Dima is doing in NYC with notifying the Council of Others, they decide it’s best that Ava stay with Dima right now.

She leaned against the loft door for a minute, struggling to recover her energy after the onslaught of her friends.  She knew they meant well, as they always did, but she’d been overwhelmed enough for one night.  Her head was pounding, her hands were trembling and she felt as if she hadn’t slept or eaten in a week.  All she wanted was to crawl back into the bed she’d been so eager to get out of a couple of hours ago and sleep until this nightmare had run its course and she could get back to her normal sane human life.

Was that really too much to ask?

A deep breath and a concentrated surge of willpower gave her the strength to turn away from the door and fix Dima with her special reserve Ice Queen Bitch From Hell Death Glare (patent pending).

Dima goads Ava into biting him it leads to fighting and then having sex.  It was that or kill her.  When she next awakes, Dima is gone.  Ava takes the opportunity to head back to her place – she is not running away, she’s going home.  She’s handled everything else that’s happened to her alone, she might just as well handle this too, because Dima won’t be sticking around.  Using her cell phone, she calls her car service and on the way to her place she realizes she has no way to get in, her Kate Spade and all its contents were long gone.  She only had the phone because it was in her coat pocket.  Only Reggie and Missy had keys.  She heads to the Vircolac and Missy.
Sitting in Missy’s kitchen, she nearly attacks Missy because she failed to feed.  Graham arrives with the blood drink Missy called for and not far behind, Dima arrives.  Her Kate Spade is delivered to the Vircolac earlier – and the only thing that seems to be missing is her cash.   Inside is a note requesting her presence at an exclusive address ‘as a member of my household’ of someone named Y C or something.  In the middle of the discussion about the note and its meaning, Dima watches as a darkness coalesces into Dmitri ‘Misha’ Vidâme.  He greets the vampire as ‘brother’ in Russian.  A reunion of sorts ensues, but not an entirely easy one.

The Council is called into emergency session to discuss the rogue vampires and Ava suggests she just go to the household and present herself as requested to reconnoiter the place.  It is eventually agreed to, over Dima’s objections.  This is 2/3rd‘s of the way thru the book.  The last third is split between Dima convincing Ava he loves her and the operation of capturing the escaped vampiress, the self styled ‘Princess Chernigov’.

I was never a fan of Ava in the earlier books in the Fixed series.  She was always so arrogant, patronizing, superior, and stubborn.  It is obvious she cares for her friends very much, but does NOT like the choices they made and fought with them about it.  Still, she didn’t walk away.  She might be prickly as a cactus, but she’s loyal.

In You’re So Vein, Ava finally gets fleshed out and the reasons behind her behavior show her in a more understandable light.  Ava will never be warm a fuzzy person, but she’s not quite the ball buster she seems on the outside either.  Still, she and Dima had rather pat and predictable backgrounds and an equally pat and predictable ending.  Ava does manage to become a whole person, complicated and difficult, a tough bitch, – not an altogether bad thing when you’re up against a megalomaniacal vampiress who want to use her as live bait to trap the one man that has ever broken thru your defenses to your heart.  Dima remains less well developed, more of a basic sketch than a full picture.

You’re So Vein is one of the average Other’s book.  Its main weakness is the character’s have little context outside the immediate story and the resolution of ‘Princess Chernigov’ is not final as it should be.  Dima realizes she cannot be held in any prison for long and the only way to deal with her is to kill her, but she ends up captive instead of dead.  The story line was rather lean for the 300+ pages and too many key scenes between the main characters were boringly predictable.

In many ways You’re So Vein reminds me more of the Fixed series, but with less sex.  It’s nowhere near the level of Wolf at the Door, She’s No Faerie Princess, or The Demon You Know – the best of The Others in my opinion – for complexity of the story and depth of characters.  It’s a pleasant, easy, fast, uncomplicated read.  For some reason I have this feeling it was originally meant to be a Fantasy Fixed novel and then was re-worked for The Others series.  Fans of the Fantasy Fixed, like me, will enjoy it more than those who only know Warren’s The Others series.

My Grade: C+ (3.25)

Who would enjoy this book: Fans of The Others and Fantasy Fixed series by Christine Warren and the Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands.  My rating is R.

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2 Comments »

  1. I’m afraid I have to agree. I read Warren’s books through EC, but was never a huge fan, though I enjoyed them. I took a chance with her Wolf at the Door, and LOVED it. I read the other Other books (ha) and have enjoyed them too. But this book left me wanting more. From Ava’s b*tchiness, I expected more conflict between her and Dima, and of her new lifestyle as a vamp. Instead, she succumbs rather easily. (That scene at Graham’s place where she just suddenly realizes how dumb she’s being.) She’s been a vamp for one day and accepts her lot in life. I didn’t buy it. And I wanted to see more battling between her and Dima, since Ava’s so strong-willed.

    I’m still a fan of Christine Warrens’ books, but I prefer the non-vampire ones, at this point. Her shapeshifters are killer.

    Marie

    Comment by Marie — April 15, 2009 @ 12:44 am | Reply

    • The characters and story lines in her Others series started very strongly, but I didn’t much care for Howl at the Moon – just the story line part. Even within the EC erotic romance limits it was plain Warren was a superior writer. I think ‘spiffing up’ of Fantasy Fix to One Bite and them You’re So Vein are classic publisher/writer moves to ‘cash in’ on popularity. It’s pretty common when writers had earlier books to do things like that.

      But really, Ava would never have accepted being a vampire so easily. And even by the end of the story I couldn’t form a clear mental picture of Dima. I was such a shallow story for 350 pages.

      I heard she was taking a break from The Others for a different line. I wonder if this is the mad rush to cash out before the change?

      Comment by toursbooks — April 15, 2009 @ 11:25 am | Reply


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