Friday, May 9, 2014

Book Review: "A Bite to Remember", by Lynsay Sands

A Bite to Remember
(Argeneau #5)
Lynsay Sands
Trade Paperback, 362 pages
Gollancz, January 1, 2011
(first published June 27, 2006)
Humor, Mystery, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Book Synopsis:  Rule #1: Never get involved with someone who won't be there for you when the sun comes up.

Once bitten, twice shy, and sexy PI Jackie Morrisey wasn't going there again. Vincent Argeneau may be the hottest guy she's ever met, living or undead, but she's here to stop a killer from turning this vampire into dust, not to jump into bed with him.

Rule #2: Never kiss a vampire . . . it can be a pain in the neck.

Okay, so Vincent's had four hundred years to perfect his kissing skills, and he does look rather tempting when he runs around the house shirtless. He's also charming, protective . . . did we mention he can kiss? Jackie needs to be on her guard, or else she'll have to come up with a new rule: If you're going to fall in love with a vampire, make sure it's a bite to remember.

My Review

The cover of this edition, published by Gollancz, is somewhat misleading; this is by no means a creepy novel, in spite of that unfortunate little trickle of blood running out of the guy's mouth.  I had already read this years ago, and really enjoyed it.  So, I bought this edition (because of the good-looking guy on the cover) and dove in again, with the intention of reviewing the book this time around.

Most people unfamiliar with the paranormal genre would most likely assume that vampires and humor really don't mix at all.  They would be totally wrong.  First of all, there's a difference between the paranormal romance vampire and the vampire of traditional horror stories.  These romance vamps are not bad guys at all.  In the case of Lynsay Sands, they can be funny, as well.  

Sands' vampire world has a very unique origin, too; her characters are descendants of the ancient Atlanteans, who, with their advanced science and technology, created miniature mechanisms known as "nanos".  Their whole function is to keep their host in peak physical and mental condition, totally free from disease and the aging process.  Since these microscopic gadgets live within the bloodstream, they need blood in order to perform their work.  Thus, the vamps in this series are really scientifically-enhanced humans who need to consume blood for the nanos to perform their duties.  However, these vampires are not soulless monsters who suck their victims dry.  In these modern times, they don't bite people at all, unless there's some very rare reason for it.  Instead, they consume their liquid food from bags provided by blood banks.  

In this particular novel, which is the fifth in the series (it was the first one I read, though), the reader again encounters the lovable, easygoing Vincent Argeneau, a four-hundred-year-old actor who decided on his career after meeting Shakespeare at the age of 10.  Currently owner of a play production company, he needs help finding out who is sabotaging his productions, and why.

Vincent first appeared in the previous novel in the series, titled Tall, Dark and HungryA new character, Jackie Morrisey, detective, is introduced in the present novel.  Together with her giant-sized assistant, appropriately named "Tiny", she is hired by Vincent to nab the elusive saboteur.

This is a fun and lighthearted read, in spite of a murder and some other pretty serious criminal events.  The dialogues between the characters are very witty, however.

Vincent and Jackie are perfect together.  Jackie is a very active, independent person, constantly coming up with ideas on how they might find the saboteur, while Vincent is very endearingly sexy, laid-back, and as sweet as can be.  Although he's a very wealthy man, there's not an ounce of arrogance in him; instead, he's very down-to-earth, and his concern for his employees is exemplary.  Jackie slowly warms up to him, as she discovers that not all immortals are as bad as her ex, who totally abused and controlled her.  As determined as she is to stand on her own two feet, she can't help but be enchanted with Vincent, and consequently, some of her long-held emotional armor begins to chip away.  Their romance is full of some totally hilarious twists and turns.

The mystery is developed very well throughout the novel; I was sure at first that I had the right person as  the saboteur, only to be totally surprised in the last few chapters.  Throughout, Sands skillfully maintains the suspense, as well as the increasing sexual tension between the main protagonists.  There are several scenes in which the interaction between Vincent and Jackie is totally adorable, and not "cheesy" at all.

I also like the characters Tiny McGraw and Marguerite Argeneau, who is Vincent's aunt.  These two became platonic friends way before the novel's conclusion, and I loved the way they cared for Jackie, giving her emotional support when necessary.  Marguerite, in fact, became like a second mother to Jackie, something I found very endearing.

There were other interesting minor characters as well, such as Christian and Marcus Notte, and their cousins, Dante and Tommaso, who were even taller than Tiny, and loved to scarf down half a pizza each (yes, these vamps eat regular food, too), with the expectation that seconds were on the way. 

The villain was convincingly, if also very sadly, evil.  I never would have thought this person would ever have committed the acts of sabotage described in the novel, nor would I have expected this same person to go as far as to kill someone.  Kudos to Sands for effectively hiding the villain's identity as long as necessary! 

I did think that the end of the novel was a bit drawn out.  The villain engaged in the frequently-used technique -- which I believe is more common in films than novels -- of describing and explaining their previous crimes to the potential victim before they actually proceed to kill them.  This type of thing is a little too overused.  Besides, it's obvious that real criminals would never act this way.

There are a couple of things I dislike about the vampires created by Sands; one of them is their ability to take over the minds of humans in order to control their behavior.  They can also "wipe" the humans' minds, so these unsuspecting folks will entirely lose their memories of certain events the vampires might not want them to remember.  Of course, in the hands of a an evil vamp, these powers would be used to harm humans.  Vincent would never do that, but I'm still uncomfortable with the concept.  I just don't like the whole idea of mind control.  Mind reading, which is another power these characters have, is somehow not as disturbing to me.  The ethical vamps, like the Argeneaus, don't read humans' minds without permission. 

Although this novel kept me engaged all the way through to the end, the above points brought my rating down to four stars.  It was very well-written, though, and was otherwise a very enjoyable read.  

The title of this novel is also a rather witty one; it reminds me of the old Cary Grant film, "An Affair to Remember".

As vampire romance novels go, I would definitely recommend A Bite to Remember, in spite of the negative aspects mentioned above.  Besides being a fun read, it could even be categorized as "a cozy mystery".  Also, there's little to no profanity in it (with NO "F bombs"), and the love scenes are very sweet, instead of raunchy.  This is the type of book for a romance lover to curl up with, on any night of the year! 


 About the Author

Born in Southern Ontario, Lynsay Sands is the New York Times bestselling author of the Argeneau Vampire series. She has written more than 34 books and anthologies since her first novel was published in 1997. Her romantic comedies span three genres--historical, contemporary, and paranormal--and have made the Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, USA Today, and New York Times bestseller lists. Lynsay's books are read in more than twelve countries and have been translated into at least six languages. She's been a nominee for both the Romantic Times Best Historical Romance Award and the Romantic Times Best Paranormal Romance Award, was nominated and placed three times in the RIO (Reviewers International Organization) Awards of Excellence, and has several books on All About Romance's Favorite Funnies list.


No comments:

Post a Comment

THIS IS NOW AN AWARD-FREE, AND TAG-FREE BLOG. Thanks for the compliment, though! : )

As of today, 9/23/18, I have permanently enabled comment moderation, due to a sudden rash of SPAM comments. I appreciate your patience!

Thanks for your thoughts on my posts! I always reply here, as well as comment back on your blog. Have a WONDERFUL day!! :)