Born to Bite

The Brat

Devil of the Highlands

The Key

Lady Pirate

Love is Blind

The Loving Daylights

A Quick Bite

The Reluctant Reformer

Single White Vampire

The Switch

Tall, Dark and Hungry

Vampire, Interrupted

The Reluctant Vampire by Lynsay Sands
(Avon, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-06-189459-6
I should not, perhaps, be the one to review Lynsay Sands books, never having been a fan. I checked my review on the other Argeneau novel I reviewed, Vampire, Interrupted, and was disappointed in my own rating of it. Vampire, Interrupted, was in retrospect a 1 heart book, and the latest Argeneau novel, The Reluctant Vampire is a strong two, maybe two and a half, because of the improvement over the other.

Sands' strength certainly does not lie in suspense or in the paranormal, for all that she's written a lot of so-called paranormal romances. As I complained about previously, the Argeneau vampires don't appear to be anything different from your average contemporary romance or lame romantic suspense, just a few little quirks and extra speed thrown in. Their problems don't generally revolve around anything that isn't mundane, and getting away from reality altogether is the primary reason why most people read paranormal books.

So, let's get to The Reluctant Vampire. Alexandrina-call-me-Drina Argenis from the Spanish branch of the Argeneau family has been in North America attending weddings when she's ordered to the wilds of Canada to help babysit a teenage toothless vampire. The non-biting vampire thing isn't very well explained, but Stephanie is your average meddling and mischievous sheltered adolescent recently turned psychic after what seems to have been a vampire attack (lack of biting in Stephanie's nature aside).

Drina knows part of why her aunt Marguerite (see Vampire, Interrupted) has sent her to Stephanie's side is that Marguerite thinks another of Stephanie's guards is Drina's lifemate. In some other book from the series it's explained that Marguerite has a sense for these things.

Harper, said lifemate, however, has recently lost a lifemate who was a human and did not survive the turn to vampire due to heart problems. Recently, as in within the last few years. Harper feels guilty as hell, so Marguerite and Stephanie have warned Drina to tread carefully —and catch the poor man by surprise.

Well, Drina succeeds. Harper, seemingly oblivious to the obvious signs of having come in contact with his lifemate, nonetheless takes her out on a snowy night and they end up stranded in Toronto, which doesn't break either's heart – well, at least not until they wake up and Harper realizes that the lady vampires have had him pegged.

Several close accidents and attempts on Stephanie's life later, Harper and Drina seem to have gotten over Harper's issues and the story goes back to the problem with Stephanie: somebody wants her dead, and she's going crazy from the constant babble in her head. Edentates (non-pointy vampires) are psychic and often go crazy from the noise and the impulses of others' minds. Drina thinks she can help Stephanie learn to shield herself ... the problem is, can she teach her in time?

I won't rehash everything I complained about earlier. The dialogue in The Reluctant Vampire is a vast improvement over earlier Sands novels, and the humor doesn't make you roll your eyes. Yes, the mind-numbing details (about hair-curling and mascara and the flavor of a green bean) still abound, but the characters are growing— though the sheer number of them at this point is completely ridiculous, especially considering each and every pair of "lifemates" has had the same thing happen to them as Drina and Harper.

Fans of Lynsay Sands will no doubt enjoy this novel immensely. As I said, it's better than any others I've read by her, and Sands' readers will want to revisit the ever-increasing Argeneau clan. Those of you who prefer action in your suspense and magic in your paranormal and have yet to pick up an Argeneau book, don't bother.

--Sarrah Knight

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