Always

Bliss

The Key

Lady Pirate

The Loving Daylights

The Reluctant Reformer

Single White Vampire

The Switch

What She Wants

 
Tall, Dark & Hungry
by Lynsay Sands
(LoveSpell, PG-13, $6.99) ISBN 0-505-52583-6
***
One of the characters in Lynsay Sands’s Tall, Dark & Hungry states: “Vampires are ‘in’ right now.” ‘In’ or not, the hero of this vampire romance makes the book worth a look.

Bastien Argeneau’s brother Lucern needs a favor. He is getting married in two weeks, and Terri Simpson, bride-to-be Kate’s cousin and best friend, flew in from England two weeks before the wedding to help with the final preparations. Unfortunately, Terri has little money and, therefore, no place to stay until Bastien agrees that she can stay at his family’s penthouse. Kate plans to spend as much time as she can with Terri before the wedding.

The plans soon go awry. Kate, an editor, is called away to an out-of-state writer’s conference when her coworker Chris is injured. Kate and Lucern go to the conference, leaving Terri, Bastien, and the injured coworker behind. The situation escalates when Terri and Bastien are forced to deal with problems regarding the wedding reception and with helping Chris recover. In between these crises, Terri and Bastien fall in love.

The world of Tall, Dark & Hungry depicts vampires as benign creatures. They drink blood from bags and can go outside in the sunshine, though not for long. They also search for a “life mate.” Bastien remembers how Lucern took renewed joy in life once he met Kate. Now Bastien experiences similar feelings because of Terri. He begins eating and enjoying solid food, taking pleasure in shopping and sightseeing. But there’s a big problem; he doesn’t know how to tell Terri that he is a vampire.

For a woman with an advanced degree who teaches scriptwriting, Terri is surprisingly unsophisticated. Sometimes she seems sweet, but at other moments borders on vacuous. This makes her difficult to know and, at times, to like. Terri feels conflicted — her feelings for Bastien are incredibly strong, but she watched her first husband become ill and die. This makes her reluctant to become involved again: “Having something you cared about was great, except it meant you had something that could be taken away.” While living with Bastien, she sees several things that make her believe that he might be sick, just as her first husband was.

Bastien is the stronger and more interesting of the two characters. Years before, he believed he had found his life mate, but she was repulsed when she learned he was a vampire. He worries that he will face similar pain by loving Terri, and he tries to protect his heart even as he realizes that it’s too late. He is cautious even as he enjoys spending time with her. Watching Bastien wrestle with these warring emotions is fascinating.

The story’s greatest weakness lies in its prolonged plot elements. Chris’s calamities and the wedding woes go on much too long, as does the “How do I tell her I’m a vampire?” and “What if he’s going to die?” issue. By the end of the story, I was frustrated with both Bastien and Terri.

Tall, Dark & Hungry isn’t a dramatic tearjerker. Instead, it’s a sweet and humorous romance with skillfully written love scenes that are both passionate and tender. Patient readers will find a lot to like here.

--Alyssa Hurzeler


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