Sex, Lies and Vampires by Katie MacAlister

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Sex, Lies and Vampires by Katie MacAlister

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A woman finds a new vampire lover, and a host of problems that that entails in this light and fluffy urban fantasy rom-com blend. It reads as just that – a bizarre-sounding but entertaining mix of fun froth.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: December 2008
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0340951996

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It seems to me there are two types of guys in fiction you women should steer clear of. From the world of chick-lit and literary rom-coms there is the bloke that looks hunky but dangerous, a bad boy you just might want to straighten out. One that seems to be too buff for his own good, and easy to scoff at but just as easy to look at. And from a certain other genre of writing, there is the vampire. So, just combine the two, ad absurdum, and see what comes out.

I don't mean to imply at all that Katie MacAlister has done merely that. She has provided us with a very enjoyable heroine narrator, and a decent fist at an urban fantasy regarding battling vampires. But it will be the blend of certificate 15 chick-lit stylings and PG-rated horror action that will mark this book out.

Nell is a woman in denial. When she first meets the vampire she is so hung up on, Adrian, she is in immediate denial that he's just her type, and mentally gushes forth reasons she should steer clear. Not the ideal thing to do when he is a mind-reader, but there you go. She meets him through a task she has been employed in – rescuing a young vampire from older, eviller, nastier vampires beholden to dark demonic spells, and is in denial there – she has got the job due to her mystic powers which she wants to ignore, having had them go fatally wrong in the past.

And of course she is in denial of Adrian's factoring into that troop of nasty vampires. This then must be the ultimate story of a woman finding the heart in her anti-hero, and trying to make a smooth lover from a bit of rough.

Adrian (not the best name, surely, for a 450+ year old European blood-letter we're supposed to also fall in love with) is a very apt hero for this type of book. He has a lot of unusual elements to bring to the romance, to say the least, but it's his place in the mystery that is the background here that makes him stand out. However with the help of her first-person narrative it is of course Nell that is the principal character. There's a lot of humanity brought to the oddities of the fiction through her devices. She is perfectly able to give Adrian the come-hither look, but just cannot find a small-talk nickname for him that fits, however hard she tries.

There will be copious people who would scoff at this type of literary melange, but I certainly finished the book on the other half of the divide. This is not one for the average chick-lit reader to stumble on – there is a bit more nookie than usually encountered in that genre (all tastefully described and reasonable), but it is the amount of genre action that would put them off. Similarly, vampire purists should come to this book with open arms, else be disgusted at what the book has done to their genre. Their blood-letting Romanians have never been in such a rom-com before.

For those willing to engage in the fluffy side of vampire fiction, this is a pleasant enough read. It taught me things I didn't know were being done in literature, and while it scaled no great heights it was more than passable entertainment. It taught me that for a book this day and age to have so many references to Buffy was clearly a very bad thing. It taught me a new word to describe the hunky guy – nummy. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, but there you go.

More importantly it taught me that this book first came out in the USA in 2005, and has only now surfaced on these British shores. My point being there was really no need for us to be forced to wait. There is nothing here to make the publishers hold back in doubt of a success.

We Bookbaggers are grateful for those publishers, Hodder, sending us a review copy.

For a similar kind of thing for teenagers (if similar means less sex, and no vampires, but zombies instead) we recommend You Are So Undead To Me by Stacey Jay, while for the adults wishing for a perhaps meatier urban fantasy there is the series beginning with Moon Called (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs.

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