Dead End Dating
Having read a lot of vampire romps and paranormal romances in general, I guess I started Dead End Dating with certain expectations. The title and the cover have a certain MaryJanice Davidson or Charlaine Harris feel, so I settled back for a tale of love and lust with a little comedy thrown in for good measure. And, I wasn’t disappointed. The idea behind Lil Marchette’s Dead End Dating, a dating service for lonely vamps, humans, and others is certainly original, as is the clever addition of a serial killer stalking lonely hearts, and in turn being stalked by a vampire bounty hunter. However, despite the clever quips and intriguing story line, a difficult heroine caused the book to fall a little flat.
Lil Marchette is a vampire socialite, a paranormal Paris Hilton with more of a lust for Prada than blood. Despite her father’s offers to set her up in the family business, Lil opts to make it on her own and starts a dating service. The only problem is no one is signing up, despite Lil’s offers for three free matches (not to mention free Starbucks and pastries.) So, Lil and her friends begin scouring the city for the socially inept, which is where she finds Francis. Francis is an ancient vampire from one of the best families in France. But, his personal ticks, not to mention his low sperm count, have left him dateless. After Lil convinces Francis that one is indeed the loneliest number, he signs up for her services. But, turning scrapbook and pooch-loving Francis into a player is the challenge of Lil’s long, long lifetime.
Just as the business is getting off the ground, in walks Ty Bonner, ultra-hot vampire bounty hunter. Ty is on the trail of a serial killer who targets single women in larger cities. The rugged cowboy vamp believes that the killer might start using a local dating service to zero in on hapless singles. Lil’s attraction to Ty is immediate, but since she’s vampire aristocracy and Ty is a “made” vampire, there’s no way that anything permanent could ever develop. Still, Lil can’t seem to keep her mind (or her hands) off Ty. And, obviously, the feeling is mutual. So, what’s a lonely vampiress to do? True, Lil is perfect in every way and she wants the perfect guy. But, every time she’s introduced to Mr. Seemingly Right, she can’t stop thinking about Ty.
As Ty and Lil work together to find the murderer in their midst, their attraction grows deeper. Lil’s only distraction (besides hunting a murderer) is transforming Francis into the perfect bachelor. But, will she succeed, and will Ty and Lil ever find that pesky villain?
This is a “just missed” sort of book; its strong points outweighed its negatives, but not by much. Character development is one of the author’s strong points and all of characters, whether likable or not, were drawn realistically, which isn’t easy when dealing with the paranormal. <g> Ty Bonner intrigued me and Francis, with his lapdogs and love of scrapbooking, makes for a perfect foil. And Esther, with her vain hope of shrinking her thighs and finding eternal love, is clunky, but adorable. Unfortunately, I was never able to warm up to Lil, with her petty obsessions and vanity, She may be a “nice” vampire in that she doesn’t bite anyone, wear dark colors, or attend Marilyn Manson concerts, but she’s not likable, and in a funny romance, that’s a problem. Where MaryJanice Davidson managed to make Betsy Taylor an affable airhead, Raye had less success doing so with her heroine; when Lil stopped what she believed was a murder in progress and lamented that she lost her boots while shape-shifting, for some reason it wasn’t funny.
Dead End Dating was funny and romantic and featured an unexpected ending. The dialogue is bright and the story original. But the unappealing heroine hindered my enjoyment of the book too much to give it even a marginal recommendation. There’s a great deal of room for Lil to grow as a person and the author’s assertions that she really is “good” at heart may be proved true in the next book. I can’t say whether or not I’ll stick with it in order to find out.