(Originally from All About Romance)
June 2007, Vampire Romance
Berkley, $23.95, 288 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425213765
Part of a series
Betsy and Sinclair get married at the end of this book. I don’t think that counts as a spoiler as the last five books in this series have been building up to this point. And, if you’re like me, you probably wanted to know that before starting MaryJanice Davidson’s sixth book in her Betsy Taylor, Vampire Queen series. Because we’ve al lread series that keep pushing the inevitable back just one more book to really milk the readers. Not so here. Ends in a wedding. Scout’s honor.
But it’s how this book starts that really surprised me. Even before the prologue, there’s a letter from MJD to the readers. In it she thanks us for reading her novels (you’re welcome!) but then justifies and apologizes for her choices for the plotline of this book. Which, as a reader, I thought was a little weird. I mean, we’ve all had authors do things or kill off characters that we didn’t want to die. It’s just part of the experience of reading. We as readers have the choice of either buying into that author or not. I’ve never seen an author try and justify her choices before I’d even read the book. So from the beginning, I was a little hesitant going in.
The letter also claimed that the book was “going to be big!”, that everything in the Undead universe had been leading to this moment, that everything was going to change. This was also somewhat strange. It felt as if power had shifted from the author/creator to the reader, as if MJD were apologizing to me for her writing decisions. The whole thing smacked of low self-confidence in her own story, and frankly, it was a bit off-putting.
The story basically follows Betsy as she gets ready for the wedding. Actually, it only follows Betsy because all the other characters disappear early in the novel and don’t come back until the end (don’t worry, it’s all explained). Along the way, some of her deepest wishes come true, but she learns that sometimes it pays to be careful what you wish for.
Now, as I said above, as a reader we all have a choice. I buy into MJD’s Betsy series. Sure Betsy can drive me up the wall so badly that I want to stake her myself with her latest designer heels. But that’s part of who she is. It’s seeing the good behind the ditz that makes these books worthwhile, and also where the books’ strength has lain for the last five. Not unlike Reese Witherspoon’s character in Legally Blonde, we see that Betsy is shallow but not dumb, self-centered but not self-serving. The secondary characters are fun, each adding to the mania that is the novel. As far as light reading goes, when I’m desperate for something sunny, Davidson delivers.
Undead and Uneasy does not break the mold. It follows the same successful formula that has made MJD almost synonymous with humorous writing. Did everything, as advertised, change? No. The novel ended the same way all the other novels end: with Betsy discovering hidden strengths. Has everything been leading to this moment? Well, in some respects, yes, because, as I mentioned above, the main pair do get married. Was it big? Again, not any bigger than any of the others. What it did do was tie a great many loose ends together. Is it the last book? Well there are some strings still dangling. They could be let go, I suppose, but I’m conjecturing that we may, in fact, be in for a switch of main characters. I have absolutely no proof, but that’s my educated guess. Was it different from all the others? No.
But, it was funny, it was amusing, it made a very turbulent plane flight whiz by, and if the author seemed to be struggling a little with her plotline and dragged in characters from her other series, it made for a really funny bloodhound joke. At the end of the day, as a reader, the decision is yours. If you’ve liked Betsy in the past, you’ll like Uneasy. If she’s not your pint of blood (ha!), you’ll find nothing new here.