Tour’s Books Blog

February 7, 2010

Book Review: Nice Girls Don’t have Fangs by Molly Harper

  • Title: Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs
  • Author: Molly Harper
  • Type:  paranormal Contemporary Romance chick lit
  • Genre:  Librarian has day from hell and wakes up undead
  • Sub-genre:  Fangs, family, and a hot sire in a small town; Tracy and Hepburn do vampires
  • My Grade: C+ to B- (3.5*)
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Length and price: Full Novel – over 80,000 words for $7.99; various discounts available
  • Where Available: Where books are sold
  • FTC Disclosure: Purchased from online bookstore

I do love finding books with a sense of humor and snappy dialogue.  I also like finding new authors.  With Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs I found both, though there is a strong sense of déjà vu.  The unoriginal trope and all to familiar characters weigh against the book, but that’s offset by the acerbic wit of Jane Jameson, the first person narrator for the book.  On the whole, the lack of originality was made acceptable by a combination of good writing, fast pacing, and plenty of laugh out loud moments.

Jane Jameson, the head of the children’s section at the Half Moon Hallow library.  Or she was, until her vindictive boss fires her to hire her incompetent step-daughter. What’s a newly unemployed librarian to do?  Well, since she got potato skins rather than severance, she spends the remainder of her day at the local bar getting just drunk enough to be brave and chat up the very handsome man sitting next to her.  She sobers up enough to drive home, but her can breaks down, so she ends up walking.  The local drunk shoots her thinking she’s a deer.  She wakes up three days later, newly undead.

Thanks to a CPA who was fired for having to work nights, vampires came out by way of a class action lawsuit for discrimination.  They’ve been working the system to secure undead rights, but many vamps hide their condition, especially from family and friends.  Rather than deal with her overbearing mother, unpleasant grandmother, and conniving sister, she only tells her best friend, Zeb Lavelle.  Of course that didn’t go well when she tried to snack on him because she was so hungry.  He panics and tries to kill her, but he gets over it.  She also finds out the house she inherited from her great aunt is still home to Jettie’s ghost.

Newly unemployed and newly undead, Jane has to adjust to a nocturnal schedule, drinking blood, and the fact she now has come under the governance of the local vampire council.  Going to a vampire bar with the beautiful blood surrogate, Andrea, that her sire Gabriel sent over to get her used to drinking from humans, she finds herself saving the very nice – and very human barman later that night when he’s attacked by vamp trying to rob him.  Later that night, the man she fought dies in a suspicious fire and she’s  suspect number one.  Strange things keep happening to her, bad things.  But she does have one good thing, she stumbles across a little bookstore where she’s nearly buried under a collapsing shelf full of old books.  Without even thinking, she begins cleaning and organizing the shelves and chatting with the elderly owner.  She finds herself with a new job – a poorly paying job, but a job that allows her to indulge in her love of books.

Hiding her undead status from her parents, trying to figure out exactly what her relationship with Gabriel is, dealing with an annoying real estate agent who wants her to sell the home she inherited from her great aunt – much to the surprise of her ‘perfect sister’ – and the strained relationship with Zeb, her oldest and closest friend.  Ms Harper balances these elements with aplomb, but seems to skim the surface, keeping everything light and easy with just a faint touch of mystery about the seemingly unrelated bad things that keep happening to Jane.  The story sort of drifts along, but take away the one-liners and there really isn’t much in the way of a plot.  That’s obvious just by the lack of a real summary.

I enjoyed Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs.  It was a fast, easy read that had me laughing well into the night.  Jane is very much in the Kathrine Hepburn heroine mold.  Sharp tongued, witty, more comfortable with logic than emotions, and fairly ordinary educated woman.  But the character drifts too much.  Rather than taking action, Jane seems content to allow events to unfold rather than work to achieve an end.  And her self-denial about being undead is something that’s been done better by other authors.   Gabriel Nightingale is less well developed.  He seems a mostly the usual brooding vampire with just a touch of Spencer Tracy.  The romance part of the story is weak as a result. The big ‘love scene’ was a let down, especially after waiting so long.

Overall, Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs is rather like a lot of chick flicks – entertaining, funny, perceptive at times, but essentially mindless entertain that doesn’t lend itself to multiple viewings.  A good read, but not a great one.  It was so entertaining, it came very close to a B-, but in the end, the near absence of a real plot kept me from giving it a higher rating.

Is Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs worth $7.99?  If you need a laugh and aren’t looking for anything but some light entertainment, it’s the perfect book.  If you want to read a book with some humor and complex, interesting, characters involved in a multi-layered plot with lots of atmosphere, then go try another book.

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SPECIAL Edition:

The next two books in the series, Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men and Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever were in much the same vein as Nice Girls Don’t have Fangs. Jane seems to stay a passive-aggressive girl-friend and Gabriel finally reveals his big secret, which was a real disappointment because it was rather lame as secrets go and put Jane at unnecessary risk.   Both were solid C+ (3.3*) and fun reads, just not quite as much fun as Nice Girls Don’t have Fangs, but with a bit more plot.

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