(originally from All About Romance)
2006, Vampire Romance
Avon, $6.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 006077407X
Part of a series
A brief look into the unpleasant aspects of being a vampire:
- You’re dead. No matter how you sing and dance, being a vampire means having to die, then rising again in a not-alive form. Now we can argue about the semantics of being ‘undead’, but the fact is, you still pretty much count as a corpse.
- You have to drink blood to survive. Harvested with your teeth.
- You can’t go out in daylight. Ever.
- Italian food is a big no-no. In fact, eating anything solid is a bad idea.
- In order to live forever with your true love, you have to turn them into the same ‘monster’ that you are, causing endless soul-searching and inner turmoil while you battle between your desire to be with her and your desire for her to be free.
A brief look into the ways that Lynsay Sands works her way around these unpleasant factors in A Bite to Remember, and creates a sort of Vampire-Lite: All the vampire, half the ick factor:
- Vampirism is a mere genetic mutation, an evolutionary miracle. You’re not dead! You’re just different!
- Except for a few genetic misfits, vampires can drink bagged blood from accredited blood banks. No human donors required.
- With an ocean in your backyard for night-swimming and heavy curtains for the library, who needs sunlight?
- Food is not only desirable, but, in some cases, necessary to maintain muscle mass. Thai stirfrys, muffins, and coffee are all A-Ok.
- Because you’re actually a Darwinian jump in the evolutionary ladder, you’re not killing your life mate, you’re actually making her better.
The story begins when Jackie arrives on Vincent’s doorstep. He has an escalating saboteur problem in his theatre company. She is a private investigator used to handling delicate cases for the Argeneau family. Vincent is not all that impressed that Jackie is a) a mortal, and b) a girl. Jackie has had bad experiences with vampires in the past, and is not impressed that Vincent is a) immortal, and b) incredibly attractive.
Jackie’s job is to find the saboteur before violence leads to murder. She and her partner Tiny set themselves up in Vincent’s house and proceed to turn his well-ordered life upside down. Things get even more hectic when some of Vincent’s relatives come to stay. As Jackie and Vincent work closely together, they begin to realize that perhaps their preconceptions about each other were unfounded. Without revealing spoilers, Vincent makes a decision which shows his inner character, and also potentially ruins his and Jackie’s happiness forever.
There are other rules to Sands’ vampires. First, vampires are able to enter minds to both gain information and control. This invasion can be restrained by reciting nursery rhymes in your head. Jackie carries on full conversations with ‘itsy bitsy spider’ in the back of her mind. Practice makes perfect for this art form, though, as every time I tried, I ended up asking my questions to the tune of ‘Mary had a little lamb’.
Vampires can’t read the minds of their life mates. It’s one sign used for life mate recognition. Vampires also can’t seem to read minds when it suits the plot device, as Vincent meets his saboteur, as does his family, but all fail to recognize that fact.
Sands’ vampires can also see themselves in mirrors, be awake between dawn and dusk, and bear children, all part of her theory that vampires are a genetic step up from humans, not the walking undead.
I’m giving this novel a C+. There are strengths to it. It’s light, funny, and warm. Jackie is likable and kind; readers will like the scenes where she attempts to feed Vincent. The secondary characters are two-dimensional, but have their place. But the toning down of the vampire falls a bit flat. The premise of the paranormal novel is in the torment, and Sands takes too away too much of the ‘monster’ from her characters. There are funny aspects to being a vampire, and they can be exploited. However, the darker sides can’t be glossed over. It makes the novel and its characters airy, but without substance. I had to recheck the hero and heroine’s name 2 days after finishing it. Jean Claude and Asher, however, stayed with me though I haven’t touched LKH in over a year.
There are also plot problems. Readers have to take a couple of leaps of faith, though nothing too dramatic. Hops more than jumps, but the holes are there.
Reading A Bite to Remember is a bit like chewing bubblegum. It’s a whole lot of fun while you’re chewing your way through it, but it’s not something you’re going to keep on your bed post for any length of time. If you’re looking for something light and funny, and normally get squicked out by the necrophiliac implications of more traditional vampire romances, this is the book for you. If, however, you like your paranormals dark and tormented, you’ll probably find you need far more than A Bite.