Dead End Dating
by Kimberly Raye, fantasy (2006)
Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-345-49216-1


Kimberly Raye, I notice, is very good at playing the Darwinian aspects of the romance industry. She started out writing paranormal comedies for LoveSpell, but when the trend moves on to contemporary romantic comedies, she's off with Warner doing them. When it seems like NASCAR dudes are in vogue when it comes to romantic comedies, she has them too. And now, with MaryJanice Davidson raking in the moolah, she has a new series featuring a ditsy chick-lit style vampire heroine.

I'm not saying that what Ms Raye is doing is wrong, mind you. But the problem here is that Ms Raye is proving herself to be a jack of all trades, or subgenres in this case, and you know what they say about jacks of all trades. Date End Dating has one singular overriding flaw that overrides what little that I find bearable about this book: it has so little that is even remotely interesting that this book comes off like a work created solely to cash in on a trend.

Very simply put, the plot is this: Lil Marchette sets up a dating service for vampires called Dead End Dating, and when our dumb cow fails to understand why success doesn't come rolling in just because she wishes it to, she decides to give "geeky" vampire Francis Deville a makeover. Francis is a "geek" the same way Vicki Lewis Thompson's heroes are "nerds": they are pretty much just hot guys in ugly clothes with glasses. He's not the hero though - that's Ty Bonner, the bounty hunter on the trail of someone using dating agencies to find victims for his or her killing spree.

Lil is... good lord, just think Betsy Taylor on speed. This woman cannot stop babbling in such a contrived "adorably precious" way about her clothes, nails, hairs, and such in an affected lingo that is acceptable only among 17-year old MySpace-keeping Valley Girls. Seriously, this is as bad as those centuries-old white vampires going all Vanilla Ice on angst on me in JR Ward's novels. Stumble upon a murder? Ow, has she ruined her shoes? They're expensive. And oww, the nail has broken. And oh, does she look good in her new dress? Think Cher Horowitz with no sense of irony, priority, or self-awareness. Think Betsy Taylor on crack. Think Paula Abdul running wild on her awful TV show about herself. It is as if Ms Raye is trying to fit the bestselling formula of MaryJanice Davidson on her self only to somehow misread things and ends up creating a heroine who tries so hard to be cute and precious that Lil ends up alienating me completely.

Kimberly Raye tries way too hard with Dead End Dating, this book may as well be called Dead End Desperation. I don't know why it has to be this way though.

Rating: 54


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