I've had this book for a while but I've been reluctant to actually crack it open. Holiday stories (particularly Christmas stories) tend to be sappy, and if there's one thing that doesn't mix well with blood it's sap. But I figured it was the right time to review it, and at the very least I'd get a fun, lighthearted read out of it. Who could have known I'd be so wrong?
The book is divided into two stories. The first story, "Christmas Cravings" by Maureen Child is, by far, the better of the two--and it's only mediocre. It explores what happens when tormented loner vampire Grayson Stone meets up with vulnerable-yet-spunky human Tessa Franklin. The story actually starts off pretty decently. The characters are interesting, the story makes me want to keep reading, and the writing ain't half bad. Tessa in particular engenders a lot of empathy and drives home the point that it's not just vampires who are capable of evil acts. Too bad it turns on the cheese about halfway through. It's almost as though a different writer took over: one with a thesaurus of cringe-worthy sexual euphemisms and a pen loaded with purple ink. The story concludes with a Christmas "miracle," which I hated, but those who are fans of the de-fanged breed of vampires will no doubt enjoy it.
Appearance: Human until they choose to reveal themselves. Black eyes, fangs descend at will. Dead vampires turn to dust.
Strengths: Can sense the coming of dusk and dawn. Heightened and enhanced senses. Fast healing. Super strength and speed. Power of hypnotism. Connection to "everything that move[s] in the night."
Weaknesses: Sunlight, fire, stakes. Can't hypnotize/control sociopaths--need human emotion to work with.
Mythology: Vampires need an invitation to enter a private home. Most vampires are just killers, interested only in feeding and destruction. Vampires are organized and elect a King; the current King is being disputed and the vampire factions are at war.
Not Bad: "Her deep blue eyes were worried. Almost haunted. He knew what that felt like and in spite of the situation, he almost felt sorry for her. Almost."
WTF?: "Tessa felt the power of her gender and knew the secrets that had been handed down from Eve to all those who had come after her."
As for the second story, "Fate Calls" by Caridad Piñeiro: I have nothing good to say about it. Although I now understand why people think Edward and Bella have a healthy relationship if they think storylines like this one are reasonable. If you find kidnapping, forcible confinement, assault, and abuse (mental, emotional, and physical) by a self-pitying sociopathic fiend sexy and romantic, then this story is for you! Personally I think everyone who had anything to do with getting this crap into print should be wallowing in a deep pit of shame. I also think anyone in a relationship like the one portrayed in this story should get themselves help, whether from family, friends, the police, a therapist, or a shelter (or all of the above if that's what it takes). There's a reason why vampires are first and foremost monsters.
Appearance: Human until the "demon" emerges, then glowing neon blue-green eyes and fangs that extend over the bottom lip and halfway down the chin (like a pointy-toothed beaver). Cold to the touch.
Strengths: Power of hypnotism ("thrall") over humans and other vampires. Super speed and strength. Ultimate power of seduction (using their vampire "pheremones"). Can sense the coming of dawn and dusk. Fast healing. The ability to feel hard-done-by even as he's abusing an innocent woman.
Weaknesses: Sun, fire, Roman religious zealots.
Mythology: Vampires have "keepers" to help them with their day to day needs and the things the vamp can't do on their own. Older vampires ("Elders") are more powerful. Their bite causes initial pain followed by intense pleasure. Can subsist on animal blood.
[Bearing in mind she's his prisoner]
Hadrian: I suspect you haven't had many men in your life. But I won't be put off if you try to prove me wrong.
Connie: Excuse me? Prove you wrong?
Hadrian: Yes, prove me wrong. Seduce me.
[And she does...because he's just that irresistible.]
Holiday with a Vampire by Maureen Child and Caridad Piñeiro. From Harlequin (Silhouette Nocturne and Mills & Boon).