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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cold in California by Deborah Riley-Magnus

Cold in California by Deborah Riley-Magnus
The Twice Baked Vampire Series Book 1
Publisher: ireadwrite Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (126 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Honeysuckle

Twice-baked vampire, Gabriel Strickland, learns he has a chance at redemption when he’s whisked from his final demise into a purgatory secretly tucked in West Hollywood. Sixty creatures, including other dead vampires, pixies, a legendary Navaho stick man and bothersome leprechauns, struggle together to earn brownie points and wait out possible centuries of this purgatory. Gabriel receives dubious advice from the troll who runs the place, but there are always bugs in the pudding and he faces them all. Enter, the beautiful Dori Gallagher, who not only knocks Gabriel off his feet, but also an evil warlock who has designs on her. When menacing forces gather against Gabriel and everything he’s come to respect, it’s a fiery clash of the supernatural in one heroic effort to save his new reality.

That’s a first! I’ve never read a book where the hero, a vampire, is staked in the first chapter. Normally, that would be the death nail for a story. I actually felt sorry for Gabriel. He was so close to finding that illusive someone that vampires had only heard of, and then…nothing.

Well, not quite. This would be the shortest story ever written and the sequel would be basically un-necessary. In a clever twist on all things vampy, Ms. Riley-Magnus gives these undead a second chance, a stay of permanent execution if you will. But what will Gabrielle do with a second chance at a half-life? My curiosity kept me reading after the unfortunate staking and it was well worth the read.

Every “twice-baked” gets a guide through their new world. For Gabrielle that would be Crudo Cushman. What a fun character. I was picturing Danny Devito the whole time he talked. Did mention he’s a troll? Crudo, not Danny.

Apparently, vampires aren’t the only supernaturals that can be twice baked. I won’t bother to name the others, though. Readers will get a kick out meeting them and seeing how they cope or have trouble coping.

Gabe’s eventual love interest is the delightfully human and yet very talented Dori Gallagher. She’s sweet and honest and a great foil for Gabrielle. She’s a character who is easy to like and root for.

There was much about this book that was fun and unique to the urban fantasy genre. Not the least is the cliff hanger ending. I’m usually pretty good at guessing the unexpected but Ms. Riley-Magnus set this up very well and so very clever.

If you enjoy a good urban fantasy adventure with lots of layers and depth, you will want to read Cold in California. Book 2 is Monkey Jump and just the name has me anxious to read it and see what happens next.