Bite Me,Your Grace
by Brooklyn Ann, historical/paranormal (2013)
Sourcebooks Casablanca, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-4022-7444-2


Books can be like people, sometimes. Just like some people, some books can get by just by being so cute that I can't help but to be so tempted to overlook its myriad problems. Unfortunately for Brooklyn Ann, I'm an ancient hag where romance reading is concerned, and I've seen and done pretty much everything that it takes more than mere cuteness to win me over. It almost succeeded, though, which should tell you something.

I can't recall heroine Angelica Winthrop being given a definitive age here, but she acts young, so much so that anyone who had ever rebelled against her parents during adolescence may very well see aspects of herself in this character. It's Regency time here, so Angelica, like every genteel lady of the land, is expected to marry well to a well-pedigreed blue-blooded bloke. Angelica resents her mother, who wants her to marry well, and adores her father, who indulges her in whatever she wants, and she especially doesn't want to marry. At all.

You see, she wants to be just like her idol Mary Shelley before that woman got married and became boring - traveling, writing that story, and generally doing things that get Angelica breathless with excitement just thinking about them. Okay, so the realization that Mary Shelley got published only because her father could print her books for her is a bit of a disillusioning downer, especially when Angelica's efforts to submit her writings to magazines only saw her being laughed out of the place. Still, Angelica is determined that she will become a published author of romantic scary stories on her own merit.

So, Angelica has a plan. She will ruin herself, which will only lead to her dowry being hers to spend at last, and she will finally be free to write and run wild like she has always dreamed of. Okay, so there are glaring flaws in her simple plan, but you know how it is: she will soon be spared of the consequences of her actions, thanks to the hero.

Ian Ashton is a vampire. It gets better: he's Lord Vampire of London, which means he's the boss of all the fang-faces in that place. He also happens to be Angelica's neighbor, and unfortunately for him, that young lady views his big scary home as inspiration for her stories. She has to break in and see for herself what is inside that house! If that isn't bothersome enough, the recent popularity of John Polidori's The Vampyre has everyone speculating that Ian is a vampire. Okay, these people are right, but still, vampires are supposed to be all secretive and what not, so the attention is becoming annoying, especially when people begin "accidentally" splashing holy water on him.

The story is a pretty cute one, although Angelica's rampant immaturity has a tendency to drive me up a wall. She's self-absorbed, her "feminist ideals" are actually very insulting if one wants to take her seriously - and really now, why would anyone want to take this immature dingbat seriously? - and she's allowed to run wild for so long. Therefore, anyone with low tolerance for dingbats gone wild has better have some antacids close at hand while reading this story, just in case.

Ian isn't any better, come to think of it. For one, he's Lord Vampire, which is an excuse for him to trot out the sequel baits like the pimp with the best cravat in town, but it's hard to understand why he's elevated to such a high post. His decision-making skills boil down to "I'm the boss so my minions will do as I say". And, really now, for someone who claims to value the secrecy of vampires, it never occurs to him that marrying an immature dingbat like Angelica and clueing her in on the existence of vampires is slightly better than planting a neon sign in front of his house that says "Vampire here - come pinch my bum while I'm asleep in my coffin!"

The story is pretty iffy as well, as it is powered by the immature antics of both Angelica and Ian. She is who she is, and he often doesn't clue her in on important things that, if she had known, could have avoided putting them through most of the childish tantrums in this story. And really, I have no idea why Ian, a vampire who has existed for two hundred plus years, would want to marry an immature prat like Angelica.

I did mention that this story is cute, right? I've listed all the annoying things about this story, but here's one big, big - and somewhat annoying - trick the author has up her sleeve: she knows how to make her story fun to read. Okay, so my smiles are through gritted teeth for the most part, and it may be accurate to say that I have a grimace on my face instead of a grin, but yikes, I like this book at the end of the day. Maybe it's how Angelica, despite behaving like an addled goose most of the time, doesn't do anything halfway, and I can't help feeling a grudging kind of adoration for her. Ian is an idiot, but I have to laugh at how the heroine often gets him all flustered and silly. There are two secondary arcs in this story, and while one, involving a vampire hunter, falls short, the other involving a female vampire and John Polidari is pretty sweet. Okay, it's too sweet at times, but still, it works for me.

On paper, Bite Me, Your Grace should be a story that pushes all my hot buttons and make me explode like an overripe dynamite. Brooklyn Ann shouldn't be underestimated, however - she's a sneaky one that almost succeeds in making me an addled fan of this story despite its numerous flaws. Wait, I do like this story, so perhaps I am a fan? Oh, my poor head.

Rating: 78


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