A Girl’s Guide to Vampires (2003)
Author: Katie MacAlister
Genre (and subgenre): Romantic Gothic/Contemporary
The book opens on a séance where Joy Randall and Roxanne, two librarians, are communicating with the Goddess, requesting their true loves. The Goddess promises them travel and men in their future. Good, as they are about to leave the country for the Frankfort Book Festival with a side trip into Blansko, Czech Republic, the hometown of their favorite author, C.J. Dante, whose the Moravian Dark Ones are a vampire romance series. Once in Blansko, Joy and Roxanne find a huge Halloween carnival is taking place during their stay. In the hotel bar, they meet Dominic-the co-owner of the carnival/vampire impersonator, Christopher: secretly the author C.J. Dante / true vampire, and Raphael: security for the carnival. Joy begins to receive mental transmissions from Christopher the vampire, declaring that she is his true love, but she resists the experience. The majority of the male characters are lusting after Joy, and lots of crowded attempts at foreplay ensue. Joy picks Raphael as her main squeeze. She seduces Raphael multiple times while trying to figure out who is the real vampire that has invaded her brain. Dominic’s interest in Joy has raised his girlfriend Tanya’s heckles. She fights with Joy at every turn, cursing her, swearing she will die. Joy, a rune stone reader extraordinaire, sees in the stones that if Tanya doesn’t change her ways, her magic will turn on her. The carnival has been leaving a trail of murdered women in every town; at this stop Tanya winds up dead. SPOILER: Raphael reveals he is an undercover renegade cop, about ready to nab the murdering duo: Dominic and Milos (other carnival co-owner). A supposedly quickie in the cave leads to their discovery by Dominic and Milos, who take them hostage. Joy mentally calls Christopher to help, he comes and in a bloody fight devours both the bad guys, then in jealousy fights Raphael. Joy promises to find Christopher his true love if he will heal the dying Raphael. Seeing that Joy is so enraptured with Raphael, Christopher concedes that Joy must not be the one, and heals Raphael. They live happily ever after in England.
Geographical Setting: Initial site in United States that sounds like California but is never specifically identified and the main part of the book: Blansko, Czech Republic.
Time Period: Current Day
Series: Series up her sleeve with side characters as Joy promises to send Christopher his true love (“Sex and the Single Vampire”) and Joy makes off with a airline pilot at the end of the book, so more books are promised.
Janet Evanovich meets vampires. Joy’s best friend/traveling partner, Roxanne, provides the comic relief to all the going-on. She keeps the book’s topics from sinking too far into a fatal seriousness. This book revolves around unusual, occult activities such as Wicca, various methods of fortune telling, vampires, and gothic/carnival extras. The characters experience world travel, exotic locale with scenic details similar to a travel guide. The characters are multi-lingual, but all of their lines are all translated into English, so the reader does not miss conversations. There are aspects of thriller elements as Joy attempts to figure out who killed Tanya, why, and if vampires really exist. The leading characters are visually non-stereotypical: Joy is six foot tall and “built like a brick over” and Raphael is even bigger. There is competition among the males for hero-status, though their desires are beside the point as Joy is in control, picking her leading man. If the reader enjoys public displays of affection, or hearing about it, then they may enjoy the crowded foreplay scenes as the characters display exhibitionist tendencies. MacAlister can make the reader laugh about sex: Joy mentions the size of his member as being too big one night (vaguely a foot and a half), but Joy has no problem or verbal qualm about performing fellatio the next night. He blows out the end of the condom at another time.
Similar Authors: Laurell K. Hamilton for more erotic fare, Anne Rice if readers want to leave the romance genre, Mary Janice Davidson’s Undead and Unwed, and Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mystery series.
Red Flags: Explicit Sex scenes. Explicit conversations. Some people might consider the characters crude. If they liked the movies Something About Mary or Along Came Polly then they may be comfortable with the book.
Sex, Lies, and Vampires (2005)
Author: Katie MacAlister
Genre: Romance (Paranormal/Vampire)
Nell was born a charmer, able to undo/cast wards and curses, but she hasn't used her power in ten years, after a terrible accident caused by her attempt to undo a curse left her weakened in her left side and killed her best friend. Having successfully forgotten her past, Nell is in for a surprise when she is hired by Melissande, a Moravian (Vampire), to translate an inscription on a breast plate, however it turns out that Melissande's real interest is in Nell's ability as a Charmer. Melissande's nephew Damien has been kidnapped by Adrian, the Betrayer and also a Moravian dark one (vampire without a soul), and turned over to the demon Asmodeus. SPOILER: While looking for information in the library of Melissande's cousin, Nell is kidnapped by Adrian. As a Moravian dark one, only Adrian's beloved can save him and give him back his soul; it turns out that Nell is his beloved. Nell joins with Adrian, and learns that he is not as evil as she was told; he only betrayed his people because he is cursed by Asmodeus and must do the demon's bidding, and as long as he is cursed he cannot regain his soul. Nell also learns that it was not Adrian who turned Damien over to the demon that commands him, it was his twin brother. Nell saves Damien, only to discover Damien is Adrian's son and not the son of Adrian's brother as she had originally assumed. She also removes the curse from Adrian and frees him from the demon's hold at which point he can redeem his soul.
Geographical Setting:Europe, Primarily Czech Republic and Great Britain
Time Period: Contemporary (2005)
Series: Dark One/Paranormal Series, Book 3
Nell is an assistant professor from the University of Washington, however the majority of the book takes place in the Czech Republic and Great Britain. Nell is not perfect, her left side is weak and her smile is crooked from a seizure when she was younger. There is more than just vampires in the book there is also a randy ghost, imps, reanimated mummies, a poltergeist brothel, and other paranormal characters and places. All these characters appear in a setting in which humans are unaware of their existence, with few exceptions. Although the story deals with a kidnapped child and a very evil demon, MacAlister keeps the story light and comedic in tone. The story is quick paced, with lots of dialog and is more plot centered then character centered.
Read-alikes: If you enjoyed Katie Macalister's Sex, Lies, and Vampires you should try other books in her dark one/paranormal romance series, such as Sex and the Single Vampire, which tells the story of how Allie and Christian (whom appear in Sex, Lies, and Vampires) met. Allie is a summoner and while in London trying to summon a ghost she finds Christian, a dark one trying to rescue his friend from danger. If you are looking for another humorous vampire romance, try Single White Vampire and Love Bites by Lynsay Sands. In Single White Vampire romance author Lucern Argeneau, a vampire, is persuaded by his editor Kate to make a public appearance, this book is the first in the Argeneau series. The Argeneau series follows different characters within the Argeneau family so it is not necessary to read the books in order. Love Bites follows Single White Vampire in the Argeneau series, which follows the tale of Etienne Argeneau as he tries to evade Pudge who is intent on slaying him, only to find Rachel Garrett the coroner. For another paranormal romance, in which vampire like creatures can be saved by a soul mate try Christine Feehan's Carpathian series, the first of which is Dark Prince in which Mikhail Dubrinsky, the prince of the Carpathians afraid he will never find is life mate and ready to end is life is saved when Raven Whitney and American psychic travels to the Carpathian mountains for some rest and relaxation. For another light comedic vampire romance try Undead and Unwed the first of Mary Janice Davidson's undead series, the main character Betsy Taylor has a really bad day, when she looses her job, is hit by an SUV, dies and wakes up as a vampire. She teams up with Eric Sinclair to defeat the evil Nostro who's minions caused her transformation. Readers might also try Night Pleasures part of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter novels. In Night Pleasures dark-hunter, Kyrian finds him self handcuffed to Amanda, an accountant. Although Night Pleasures is supposed to be "fun", it also appears to be a bit darker and more graphic than Katie MacAlister's Sex, Lies, and Vampires.
Red Flags: Sexually explicit, some violence although not particularly graphic, and annoyingly large use of pet names.
You Slay Me (2004)
Author: Katie MacAlister
Genre: Romance (Paranormal)
Aisling Grey is a courier sent to Paris to deliver an aquamanile (a dragon statue) to a Mme. Deauxville. But when Aisling reaches Mme. Deauxville’s residence, she discovers the woman dead – her body hanging over some supernatural symbols. Also at the crime scene is the mysterious Drake Vireo, who Aisling is strongly attracted to even though he’s a dragon. But Aisling learns she can’t trust Drake, as he runs off with her aquamanile and becomes her prime suspect in Deauxville’s murder. In her pursuit to get the aquamanile back, Aisling is sucked into France’s Otherworld of dragons, wiccans, talking demon dogs, and a potential apocalypse that would literally bring Hell on Earth. And Aisling learns she has a prominent role in this world as a Guardian and Drake’s destined mate.
Geographical Setting: Paris, France
Time Period: modern day (2004)
Series: Aisling Grey, Guardian (#1)
Appeal Characteristics: Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer might enjoy the way MacAlister mixes mystery/suspense, humor, and romance with the occult
Similar Authors: Mary Janice Davidson, Janet Evanovich, Charlaine Harris
Red Flags: sex, murder/violence, the occult