From Boardwalk With Love

Night Games

An Original Sin

The Pleasure Master

Wicked Nights

A Taste of Darkness
by Nina Bangs
(Leisure, $6.99, R) ISBN 0-8439-5634-8
The hero of A Taste of Darkness by Nina Bangs is another moody vampire. Reinn Mackenzie has recently been coerced into becoming his clan’s “Guardian of the Blood,” meaning his new job is to behead any member of his clan who may be tempted to mate with any creature other than a vampire. For this reason he leaves his life of solitude in Colorado and travels to the “Woo-Woo Inn” (Can you believe that name?) to stop the wedding of a Mackenzie clan member and a werecat. Since all Reinn wants is to be left alone, his new duties have forced him into a very bad mood.

Upon reaching the Woo-Woo Inn (It’s hard to type that with a straight face.), Reinn finds the place filled with the werecat wedding party. A being named Sparkle Stardust, her powerful minion Ganymede (currently in cat form) and a telepathic puppy named Trouble are in charge while the inn’s owners are away on vacation, and they want no killing at the inn on their watch. Their machinations could prove to be major trouble for Reinn. Also troubling is the fact that once he meets the groom, Reinn actually likes the guy. Then there’s the sister of the bride, Kisa, for whom Reinn develops a major case of lust.

Kisa finds herself terribly attracted to Reinn, as well, but feels that any relationship she might have with him is doomed from the start. Kisa’s clan has a very firm rule that no werecat can mate with a being weaker than they are in animal form. Since Kisa’s were animal is a saber-toothed tiger, the chances of her finding someone as powerful are very slim indeed. She’s the oldest werecat virgin.

Throw all of these elements together, shake them up, and the result is one very weird book. Problems abound. Someone’s forcing Kisa to change by assaulting her with catnip, and Kisa can’t control the saber-toothed tiger once it appears. Sparkle Stardust is busy planning meals with only “sexual food,” much to the disgust of the inn’s guests. One of the guests is a harpy that’s bound and determined to take someone back to Hades with her. And if Reinn doesn’t fulfill his duties, the Mackenzie clan elders will come after him.

The most difficult thing about reviewing this book is that I never could decide if it was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. The characters are so over the top and clichéd that they are farcical. The setting, situations and secondary characters are mostly ridiculous. If the book was supposed to be funny, it failed because I absolutely didn’t “get it.” If it was supposed to be serious, well, there was very little serious about it.

While completely inoffensive as far as writing and editing are concerned, A Taste of Darkness is too strange for me to recommend it.

--Wendy Livingston

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