Damien
by Robin Danner, historical/paranormal (2008)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.75, ISBN 978-1-59578-435-3


Great, another vampire named Damien? While I understand that it helps readers to recognize immediately that this novella is another one of those vampire stories - sorry, vampyre romances - surely there are more names out there than Lucien, Damien, and Gideon, no?

Damien Valencourt - eeuw, are those goosebumps I am seeing on my skin? - knows Lady Charisse Baxter as a friend, but an attempt to shield her from an old friend, let's just say, has all his vampyre friends from the High Counsel believing that she's his mistress. Charisse, who must surely be the grandmother of the generation of emo Goth girls who venerate Livejournal and MySpace, is the type to be interested in occult when she's not wearing black all the time. Therefore, that may explain the surprising ease at which she accepts that Damien is a vampyre and she's pretty much a hostage in the hands of the Counsel in order for them to ensure that Damien will obey their orders.

The mission, as you may expect, is to stop a bad vampyre who is on the loose. This naughty creature is killing people indiscriminately when the villain is not trying to cause all kinds of trouble for the Counsel. Why is it Damien who must stop this villain, you ask? That's because Damien and that fellow are brothers. Brothers kill brothers all the time, as we all know, so this one should be easy. The Counsel is so smart that way. There is also some scroll involved that apparently contains the secret to mortality for any vampyres wanting to be human again, but that scroll doesn't really have much of an impact on the development of the story so I'll just leave it at that.

This is a story where you have to have a pretty high threshold for characters behaving stupidly to enjoy it because my goodness, Charisse gets the plot moving all right by foolishly ignoring warnings to go off trying to do things on her own that she has little knowledge of. You can guess what happens to her, I'm sure. Her constant need of rescue allows Damien to puff up protectively and fall in love with her, from what I can see, but goodness, Charisse is truly irritating.

On the bright side, despite the tendency of every female in this story to be uniformly - and even interchangeably - plucky and sassy without much common sense to go along with all that preciousness, Damien does have its merit. I mean, yes, the characters probably will literally take forever to put together a jigsaw puzzle, but this story does make a rather refreshing read at times because of how often it doesn't embrace the clichés that plague stories of this kind. For example, there is no skanky female villain raving and shrieking about not being able to have the hero's love, nobody is angst-ridden here, and there is a conspicuous absence of soulmate overload and "I'm a vampire, I can't be with you!" melodrama.

If something can be done about those heroines who insist on running headlong into trouble without a care, perhaps this could be a light-hearted vampire romp that I can really sink my teeth into. As it is, I'll recommend this one only to readers of this type of stories who also don't mind encountering foolishly reckless heroines in their stories.

Rating: 71


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