Bite Me If You Can
Spring is the best time for romances. With the days growing longer and the weather fluctuating between downpours and mild days, you can’t go wrong with a steamy love story. For me, paranormal romances are a guilty pleasure, but just because I enjoy crème brulee doesn’t mean I’d pass up a handful of Skittles. Lynsay Sand’s Bite Me if You Can is definitely in the Skittles category, not in itself a bad thing, but problems with dialogue, the “oomph” factor between hero and heroine, and the villain mar how tasty this snack can be.
The book is the story of restaurant and bar owner, Leigh, who’s had a hard life. Her parents died when she was in college and her no-good boyfriend, later her no-good husband, was abusive and a stalker. So, Leigh fled what was left of her life and moved to Kansas City, where she began working at Coco Restaurant, a 24/7 bar and restaurant where the staff became her family. After her husband died, Leigh inherited his considerable cash and bought Coco’s for herself and, at thirty, Leigh is satisfied with her life — she has a great job and wonderful friends who have become her family. If her life lacks romance, Leigh subscribes to the once bit, twice shy theory. For now, friends and her business are enough.
Unfortunately for Leigh, her newest employee, a ditzy twenty-something with a questionable past, has a crush on her. And, when he’s “turned” by a rogue vampire, he decides to make Leigh his immortal bride. Morgan, the vampire who leads this cabal and has convinced his followers that they are evil and must prey on the weak, takes a fancy to Leigh himself. So, when Leigh is rescued by vampire hunters, Morgan decides to stalk her.
Leigh’s rescuers, the vampire hunters, turn out to be vampires themselves, though of the “good” variety. They’re just regular folks (who happen to live forever and drink blood) and have a code of conduct. Rogue vampires like Morgan, who drink from humans and live the whole Bela Lugosi ideal, are hunted down and exterminated. The “good” vampires subsist from bagged blood trucked in daily from their blood banks and adhere to the rules of the Council. The strike team that saved Leigh was lead by Lucian Argeneau, a very old, very rich, and all-business vampire hottie.
Lucian never found his life-mate. And, apparently, one of the reasons that vampires go rogue is that the long, cold years alone make them bitter…and in Morgan’s case, a bit psychotic. A vampire will always know his or her mate because they are the one person in the world whose mind and feelings a vampire can’t read. That’s the main attraction – the mystery, the silence, the allure of not knowing just what the other person thinks and believes. Although Lucian immediately realizes that Leigh is his mate, he denies his attraction to her. She is much younger than he and has many ties to the mortal world. Leigh is worried about her friends at Coco’s, about her lost purse, and about her bills. Lucian thinks in terms of millennia.
Plus, Lucian, who is terrified of becoming a rogue and has thrown his entire soul into his work and his extended family, has been out of the game a long, long time. Dating wasn’t exactly de rigeur in the Dark Ages and hanging out in bars and partying all night long aren’t things he’s comfortable doing. Leigh likes to shop, dance, and hang out with her friends. Lucian is vaguely aware that malls exist, hasn’t been to a party since a Roman Emperor’s wedding, and has no pals to speak of. He is very close to his twin-brother’s wife and children, as well as his nieces and nephews. The other members of his strike team are close confidantes, but they don’t exactly hang out on weekends.
Lucian now must learn how to live if he wants to win Leigh and, frankly, his antics are hilarious. He can be a bit bossy, but he does have the excuse of being from the Dark Ages. And, beneath his gruff exterior, he really does long for love. Leigh, having met Lucian, realizes that she was missing something from her life. But, since she doesn’t understand the concept of a life-mate, she isn’t sure about the things she’s experiencing. Lucian and Leigh’s romance is sweet and old-fashioned, but Sands does manage to sneak in some pretty hot sex scenes. Granted, a good deal of them are dream sequences, but they still capture the reader’s imagination — vividly.
Although the heart of the book is Lucian and Leigh’s love story, Morgan the Rogue lurks in the corners of the plot trying to kidnap Leigh and murder Lucian. Morgan didn’t look kindly on Lucian overthrowing his little cult and he’s not a forgive and forget sort of guy. But, as you can imagine, good triumphs over evil and a happy ending is had by all (except Morgan, of course.)
Though the romance in Bite Me if You Can is a little sappy, I’m a sucker for that. Sands spins a good yarn, but her dialogue needs work. The backstories for both leads are nicely complex, but together they lack punch, at least in their conversations. Likewise, Morgan, though wicked indeed, is not fully dimensional. Although we’re given a reason toward the end of the book for his dark nature, it doesn’t explain fully why he’s just so horrible. Maybe he was always a jerk — I guess vampires have personality disorders too — but you never really know.
If you’re in a Skittles kind of mood, this one might fit the bill. This is a better than average read, but it’s not quite recommendable.