A Girl's Guide to Vampires
The author dedicates this book to Christine Feehan, and I thought of it as the flip side of the Carpathian universe. I enjoyed this book tremendously until about three-fourths of the way through it. Then the heroine, who had been sarcastic and witty, suddenly became annoying, bordering on TSTL. What a terrible disappointment because, until then, I’d planned to put this one on my keeper shelf. shelf.
Joy and her friend Roxanne visit a Wiccan friend for help with their love lives. The friend has a premonition and predicts for Roxanne a nice, handsome, stable man. However, Joy’s predicted guy – well, tall, dark and dangerous just about covers it. In fact, he sounds like a Dark One, the vampire heroes in the romance series by C.J. Dante that Joy and Roxanne love to read. (Dante is obviously an homage to Feehan.) Roxanne believes in the existence of the Moravian Dark Ones and plans a trip to Eastern Europe to find them. Joy doesn’t want her oldest friend traveling there alone, and joins her, proclaiming that she doesn’t believe in the Dark Ones.
The trip is everything Joy and Roxanne could hope for, with a GothFaire beginning locally. It definitely sounds intriguing, and their interest is further piqued when they meet up with a couple of witches working the fair who tell them the owners of GothFaire are vampyr. Roxanne is ecstatic, but Joy, after meeting Dominic (one of the owners), knows he isn’t anywhere near the real thing. Joy starts experiencing mysterious voices and visions in her head, and hopes she isn’t going crazy. She believes these visions may have started when she set eyes on Raphael, who lands center on her dark-hunky-and-dangerous prediction bullseye.
Raphael runs security for GothFaire, and is very mysterious about his identity. Joy is immediately attracted to him, and they set up a sexy, witty banter between them that fairly sizzles the pages. As Joy’s visions involving a man continue, she doesn’t want to believe she is crazy, so she chooses to believe the Dark Ones must be real. Especially since the voice calls her life mate, a term only used in C.J. Dante’s books.
For the most part this book is a lighthearted romp. The chemistry between Joy and Raphael is awesome. Roxanne and Joy attract a number of men, among them Christian, a local, who also knows Raphael and Dominic. Or rather, Joy seems to attract all the men. She has at least three different men vying for her attention throughout the book. Joy’s personality rubs some of the fair people the wrong way, and then there’s a murder.
It’s at this point that the book takes a wrong turn. Suddenly Joy becomes an obsessed Nancy Drew who must solve the murder, by herself, since Raphael refuses to help her and tells her to stay out of it. She knows he is involved somehow, and is afraid for him, but the police also (ridiculously) consider her a suspect.
Raphael doesn’t help matters because he is extremely secretive about his background and his past. He plays the, “I wish I could tell you, but I can’t” card over and over, which tends to drive people crazy, Joy and me included. However, Joy refuses to trust him more than a millimeter and trudges ahead with her own inane investigation, which just creates more problems for Raphael.
I was very disappointed once the murder subplot took over. The excellent opportunity for a secondary romance was dropped. In the Moravian world, the males meet their life mates much like Feehan’s Carpathians. A Dark One knows instantly when he finds his life mate. However, what if their destined life mate doesn’t want them and refuses to bond with them? MacAlister explores this interesting question, but doesn’t deliver a satisfactory resolution.
A Girl’s Guide to Vampires is told from Joy’s first-person viewpoint, which was entertaining until she mutated into a TSTL meddler. And, of course, the drawback with first person is a lack of insight into other characters. Since Raphael was very secretive, it was harder to get to know him through Joy’s perspective. Assigning a grade is tough because though there were many, many aspects of the book I thoroughly enjoyed, after the focus shifts to the murder investigation, it simply loses steam. Fans of this author or Christine Feehan will probably want to give this one a look, but I’m still getting over my disappointment of a promising book gone awry.