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Friday, May 27, 2011

The Reluctant Vampire by Lynsay Sands

The Reluctant Vampire by Lynsay Sands
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (231 pgs)
Heat Level: hot
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Has this immortal finally met her match?

Rogue hunter Drina Argenis (from the Spanish side of the Argeneau family) has been many things in her years as an immortal, but bodyguard/babysitter to a teenage vampire is something new. There's an incentive, however: the other vampsitter, Harper Stoyan, may be Drina's life mate.

Trouble is, having just lost a life mate, Harper is resigned to being alone. He's completely unprepared when sexy and unpredictable Drina bursts into his life to reignite his passions. Can Drina, with a little matchmaking help from their teen charge, tempt this reluctant vampire to take a chance?

Or will a dangerous, unseen renegade kill Drina and Harper's one chance at happiness?

I've never actually laughed so much it hurt while reading a book, but I certainly did with The Reluctant Vampire. I think Ms. Sands had the inner track on my funny bone this time around because I simply could not stop giggling and snickering and even the last chapter left me with a goofy smile on my face. How did she do it?

I’ll share how I think she did it. First she had poor unsuspecting Harper who’s agonizing over internal angst and he gets sideswiped by an Aunt Marguerite special delivery -- Drina, the enforcer. Harper is this very uptight and Eeyore type of guy who has a strong need to help and to control. Little does he know that he’s about to be seduced and he doesn’t stand a chance against that type of smooth and underhanded trickery. It was pure genius not to mention extremely entertaining and amusing.

Second, Drina is there to guard this really cute young lady named Stephanie from some bad guys, but what Drina doesn’t know is that she is going to need a guard herself from the precocious Stephanie. That girl is a delightful surprise and the cause of many a funny scene filled with racy and hilarious dialogue that spiced up the relationship tremendously.

Drina likes to be in charge herself so there is that dynamic to contend with. When she tells Harper all the jobs she’s had over her long life it reads like a great book – a regular Renaissance woman. What I found really impressive was that when it first was revealed, both Harper and I were amazed, but as the story went on, a more down to earth interpretation was offered and I found that very enriching to read. I really liked how the author made it more personal and real to the characters. It may sound glamorous but the truth of it brought a real depth to Drina’s personality. And for all of Drina’s long lived life she is still astoundingly naïve and innocent.

How can an immortal still be naïve after centuries of life? Easy, come to a country she’s never been before and experience new things. Folks, I have to tell you this. There is no way I want to ruin the surprise and sheer hilarity of the scene that had Alessandro freaking out but I can tell you that I re-read that whole scene three times. I could not believe how funny and adorable it was and none of it would or could have worked without the extremely awesome writing job that Ms. Sands did to bring it all to life.

I want to spill spoilers so bad because they're that good. I want to laugh with others about what is so great. This chapter, my dear readers, is a Water Cooler Moment! This is the type of thing that people would gather around to trade quips, quotes and parts they thought were better than others. And just when you thought all it would be was more humor, like a boss coming around the corner scattering the workers from around the water cooler, a piece of the suspenseful conflict inserts itself seamlessly into the scene making it a clever mixture of what life actually does. Nothing is ever perfectly simple nor impossibly hard.

The conflict is a bit of a light thread. The threat is very real and dangerous and yes there are times when things get nasty but it doesn’t take over the story. It propels the characters’ actions and choices but it doesn’t bog down the essence of the book which is the romance between Harper and Drina. Their relationship is forefront for most of it.

Secondary characters are a gem. I love Teddy, the police chief and think it’s funny that a man of his age would say, “Shoo!” but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do -- even when it saddens him. Yeah, like I said it’s not all whoopee cushions and saucy jokes. There is a strong emotional element that makes a reader care about what happens to everyone. And I most certainly cared about Anders. I want to see that immortal fall on his butt in love. I cracked up at Drina’s descriptions of him at the beginning of the book and giggle when I remember what it took to get him to talk in a full sentence. Okay, there was a somber part too, but the fun stuff is truly memorable. I also sniggered at the term, ‘life-mate porn’ -- way funny, but after reading the book, very accurate to the people involved. Readers are just going to have to get the book to understand everything I’m not saying in this review.

Another aspect I enjoyed was when Harper and Drina finally get together. I had a great time watching them get so carried away that they forgot themselves – much to their embarrassment and my entertainment. The author was a bit creative here and there and it did much to keep their physical shenanigans fresh and interesting.

The resolving of the threat was anti-climactic for me but it did its job. There are times when I’m tired of heavy handed suspense and danger so this was a refreshing and welcome scenario. I happily just sat back and read nonstop until I was done. The ending was endearing, sweet, very optimistic and well earned especially after a visit from Uncle Lucian. Readers of the series know that a visit from him usually is something to fear and creates instant suspense. The man is a walking conflict in whatever book he ends up in. What a great character.

I know that I’ve mentioned some characters that have come from previous books but let me assure readers that this book really can stand on its own. I’d even go so far to say that I even forgot that I’d visited this town before in one of Ms. Sands’ previous books and I didn’t feel compelled to go back and re-read it to understand The Reluctant Vampire. I didn’t need to -– it stands on its own merits.

The Reluctant Vampire is a hilarious, madcap adventure in romance that had me laughing, cheering and feeling good until the very end. I think Harper and Drina were great together and the supporting cast of characters truly made this book shine. I thank Ms. Sands for a stellar reading experience – the witty dialogue, great personalities and a sense of humor that just won’t quit are what make her books auto-buys for me. This book proved it once again.