I did not realize when I chose this book to review that it was number 19 in a series. If I had bothered to find that out ahead of time, I probably would have passed this book by. I am glad I did not because I would have missed out on an enjoyable read. Sands does an excellent and almost seamless job of incorporating the backstory into this novel and it does well as a stand-alone.
Jake Colson is a reluctant vampire. Oblivious to the nature of the rest of his family until the age of 18, Jake does not take the news that his mother, stepfather and brother are all bloodsuckers very well. Raised on a diet of movies where vampires were always the bad guy, this early indoctrination makes it hard for Jake to see his family in a different light despite the fact he does love them. When he is nearly killed at the age of 51 and his stepfather uses his one “turn” to save Jake’s life, Jake is torn. He is grateful to be alive, but hates the fact that he has now become one of the monsters himself. So Jake severs all contact with his family. When the book opens, he is working as a security specialist in Ottawa.
Nicole Phillips is something of an artistic prodigy. Her portrait commissions have made her a wealthy young lady. Unfortunately, they also attracted a slimy Italian leech named Rodolpho who married her for her talent and the wealth it could generate. After a few years of him destroying her self-esteem and working her to the bone, she finally found the wherewithal to divorce him. That divorce will be final in two weeks. Nicole’s best friend Pierina’s mother is the housekeeper to Marguerite Argeneau Notte. Marguerite is Jake’s aunt by marriage. She is also a very old vampire. Fearing that Nicole’s soon to be ex-husband Rodolpho is trying to kill her before the divorce is final, Marguerite convinces Jake to serve as her bodyguard for the next two weeks. Nicole refuses to believe that Rodolpho is trying to kill her, so Marguerite convinces her that she needs a cook/housekeeper to give her more time to paint. Nicole agrees and Jake is hired.
Lynsay Sands is able to take a serious situation and treat it with a refreshingly light hand. There is a lot of humor interspersed between the multiple attempts on Nicole’s life and the romance. While at times the action leaves the ridiculous and lands firmly into farce, it still works. Sands also avoids the usual vampire tropes and makes her world both more human and humane. Her vampires can eat, walk around in the daytime and reproduce in the normal way. While convenient, the world she creates is still refreshing. The story is not free of the vampire angst however. This is probably my largest criticism of the book. I like the present day Jake Colson (aka Stephano Notte), but I doubt I would have liked him much in earlier books. Feeling betrayed at the age of 18, he carries that resentment for the next 40 years like the proverbial boulder. For someone who has spent the majority of his life mired in this resentment, he is remarkably light hearted in this book and his previous childishness is too much in the background. While there is certainly growth in Jake’s character, from the backstory that growth should have been like jumping over Niagara Falls. Instead, he seemed to have merely stepped over a small puddle.
Nicole, while less than half Jake’s age, has a maturity that Jake has never attained. She is a very likeable character and despite her ability to lose herself in her art, she is not flighty. The attraction between Nicole and Jake is extraordinarily silly at times, but it works in an amusing sort of way. As with any paranormal, there needs to be a suspension of belief to buy into the premise. Ms. Sands’ use of comedy threatens to interrupt this suspension, but she walks that tightrope well and the book works.
With the number of books I have in my TBR pile, placing another 18 in the pile seems a daunting prospect. However, maybe I will just add the first book in Lynsay Sands’ Argeneau series and tackle this world one bite at a time.