Undead and Unwed
Undead and Unwed is a riot of a book that, like its heroine, never takes itself seriously and pokes fun at romance, vampire and chick lit clichés. The language is rough, the sex and “almost” sex is a perfect blend of edgy meets funny (and fits the tone of the book), and I haven’t laughed so hard while reading since the turkey scene in one of Janet Evanovich’s earlier Stephanie Plum books. Might the never-ending trend of bland paranormal romances and forgettable characters be coming to an end?
Betsy (short for Elizabeth) Taylor is having a colossally lousy birthday week. She’s turning thirty and if being “too old for club hopping and too young for bingo” weren’t bad enough, Betsy arrives late for work to learn she’s been laid off from her position as Super Secretary (AKA executive assistant). She meanders home to discover her party postponed because her stepmother has conveniently gone off her meds. Soon after, Betsy ends up getting herself run down by a car while attempting to rescue her cat. The ungrateful cat runs off without a scrape while Betsy winds up dead for her troubles.
Betsy awakens to a horrifying vision. She’s apparently dead and lying in a casket. But worse, her makeup appears to have been slapped on by someone with no sense of style, she’s wearing her stepmother’s cast off pink suit and her very expensive designer shoes have been replaced by cheap Payless shoes that scream “buy one get one free!”. What kind of hell is this? Wanting her undead life to come to a screeching halt Betsy tries her best to finish herself off but stubbornly remains one of the walking dead. When she develops a disturbing lust for blood (ewww! she moans), supernatural strength and her teeth begin to grow she realizes the long haired, freaky eyed ruffians who attacked and bit her months earlier must’ve been vampires!
As Betsy attempts to adjust to her lifestyle change she’s abducted and taken to a cemetery where she’s confronted by Nostro, a Bela Legosi wannabe, and his pale minions. Can things get more stereotypical than this, she wonders? And who does this pathetic, balding “Nostril” think he is anyway? Unfortunately, she ponders these and many other similarly funny but inappropriate comments aloud and vampire bigwig, Nostro, is not amused. Holy water is thrown her way and the pale folk are stunned when instead of melting she has a sneezing fit and bursts out in hysterical laughter. She hightails it out of there but is followed by the only hunk in the room who insists they “talk.”
Eric Sinclair is a sinfully gorgeous and sinfully lusty vampire who has grand plans to thwart the evil uprising of Nostro. He believes Betsy, because of her special abilities, is the prophesied vampire queen who will help them succeed and he’s determined to teach her the basic vampire rules. Betsy is not thrilled (and not afraid to say so) but the designer shoe bribes and Sinclair’s handsome face slowly begin to wear her down.
Sinclair is a great anti-hero. Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Is he trustworthy or just a randy pig with his sights set on ruling the planet? He seems like a straight up guy but he also has an unsavory habit or two (better make that three!). He’s a vampire who enjoys all the pleasures available to his undead self without whining about the injustice of being forced to drink blood and hide from the sun. He keeps a harem of satisfied women around for all of his various needs and doesn’t fret about it or suffer endless guilt. Yet something about Betsy gets under his skin and soon he wants only the woman who makes him laugh and manages to irritate him beyond measure.
Betsy tells the story in grand first person style. She’s tall, blonde, gorgeous, shallow, and confident and she’s going to remain that way forever. She’s a heroine you’d love to hate, yet she doesn’t let you. She suffers from a hilarious form of adult Attention Deficit Disorder, lisps something fierce when in full “vamp face,” has attitude to spare and freely pokes fun at herself “I still had my Friday underpants on (yech! I was pretty sure it was still Tuesday!)” Really, how can you not love her? Betsy’s funny observations, her “ew’s!”, and her ability to accept whatever weirdness life throws at her with humor all combine to make her and the story irresistible fun.
In a recent review I wrote “laughs are great but they can only take you so far” and this book drives that point home. Though the humor hooked me in, it was the combination of bold sensuality, the fun-filled plot that kept me on my toes, the bit of painful family angst (a step-mother who steals your designer shoes and a father who wants you to stay dead, can it get worse than that?) and the characters who leapt off the page that made this book an exceptional read. If you desperately need a laugh and enjoy vampires who gleefully misbehave, grab yourself a copy of Undead and Unwed.