The Vampire With the Dragon Tattoo
This latest offering by Kerrelyn Sparks is the 14th in her Love at Stake series. While I have not read any of the other books in this series, I do not believe it necessary to read the previous books to understand this one. Ms. Sparks does a very good job of subtly revealing the backstory surrounding the world she has built. It was a fairly solid book, but there were a number of things that did ultimately interfere with my enjoyment.
Dougal Kincaid became a vampire in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden when his sire mistakenly believed he consented to the transformation. For nearly 300 years, he has been a vampire drowning in angst – not from his transformation, but from his inability to save his one true love several years before he “dies” at Culloden. When the book opens, Dougal is in the slightly embarrassing position of bodyguard/babysitter for the children of a Vampire fashion designer. Among his duties are taking the children to the restroom at a paranormal birthday party. For a warrior, it is a hard situation to swallow, but in the “good” Vampire’s war against the evil Master Han, Dougal lost his arm and has been fitted with titanium prosthesis. Now he is just waiting to be placed back on the mission roster and while he waits, he drowns his sorrows in Blissky or Bleer (blood mixed with whiskey or beer). When Leah Chin walks into Romatech for a job interview, Dougal is jolted out of his self-pity when he realizes she might just be the reincarnation of his one true love – Li Lei.
Leah Chin is a brilliant geneticist who graduated from college at the age of 14 and earned her medical degree before she could legally drink alcohol. The child of an Irish mother and a Chinese father, her entire life revolved around academics. Homeschooled until she entered college, Leah has trouble with socialization and she carries the scars from her inability to fit in. Therefore, the work is everything to Leah. When she receives an offer to interview for a position at Romatech Industries, she is intrigued enough to fly to New York and check it out. When she arrives and finds herself at a child’s birthday party, she does not know what to think. When she finds out that child is a vampire, well…she only wants to get on the first flight back home as quickly as possible. Vampires? Her logical mind will not accept their existence and she believes the entire interview is an elaborate and cruel hoax. But Dougal Kincaid piques her interest from the beginning and his compassion (along with a believable explanation) finally convinces her that vampires do in fact exist. Then she is just terrified. After some additional persuasion, she finally decides to work for Romatech Industries.
Romatech needs Dr. Leah Chin because they have captured one of Master Han’s super soldiers (genetically modified mortals who fight with superhuman strength and no fear of death). Master Han has been building a super soldier army in China which he will use to take over the world once he had rid it of the good vampires. Because these super soldiers are under the evil will of Master Han, if the vampires kill them, then their souls will be confined to Hell for eternity. They are looking for a less harsh alternative and they believe Leah can find a way to reverse the genetic changes made to these soldiers and return them to their normal state. She, along with fellow human Abby (who specializes in chemistry) will then develop a serum to free these soldiers held in a mind control against their will.
Dougal is a character that despite his melancholy is a very funny and likeable character. Nearly 300 years after Culloden, he still walks around in a kilt and has a sporran made of muskrat fur. His insecurities given that he is a gorgeous immortal give his character depth beyond the run of the mill alpha. Leah was a little more difficult to warm up to and I am not sure I ever did. I did not dislike Leah. She was just a little flat as a character and her transformation was not quite believable. For a character who was sheltered until the age of 14 and then either bullied or shunned during college, she takes to the sexual aspect of her nature with very little constraint. There is no indication that she had any experience prior to Dougal, but their physical relationship begins with her seemingly knowledgeable about sex. It just did not fit her character’s history. The banter between the hero and heroine was written with humor in mind, but much of it I did not find very funny; I found the jokes dumb and the puns silly. Later on in the book, angels and the Heavenly Host are introduced into this paranormal world and that quasi-religious aspect just seemed a tad contrived and out of kilter with the rest of the story. Perhaps Ms. Kerrelyn is setting up the series for future characters, but I felt this inclusion was slightly gratuitous in that they provided the main characters with an easy out.
This book was not bad and many readers who have kept up with this series from the beginning seemed to like this installment. It just was not to my personal tastes. If I had not committed myself to review this book, I probably would have put it aside after Dougal found himself having to drink Bubbly Blood when the Blissky and Bleer were unavailable.