Love Bites
by Lynsay Sands, paranormal (2004)
LoveSpell, $6.99, ISBN 0-505-52553-4


I think Love Bites is actually set before Lynsay Sands' previous romantic vampire comedy Single White Vampire as the hero in Single White Vampire is apparently single in Love Bites. Just like Single White Vampire, Love Bites is a light-hearted vampire romp that is more of a Christopher Lee kind of campy story than the usual Lestat whinefest. Unfortunately, Love Bites is plagued by a paper-thin plot that is stretched even thinner by a series of minor miscommunication problems that lead to the main characters running around each other while making silly misunderstandings along the way.

In Love Bites, Rachel Garrett is a coroner. Instead of being cool like CSI, her graveyard shift job is actually quite dreary. To top it off, Rachel's social life has come to a halt. When she starts thinking of corpses in romantic and lusty terms, that's when I would personally recommend that she change her job, but that's just me. A very cute corpse finds himself under Rachel's loving TLC, and despite the gunshot wound on the poor man, Rachel thinks he's very hot. Thankfully, before this book morphs into a Sexy Loser comic strip, the corpse wakes up and takes his leave. Meet our vampire hero, Etienne.

It turns out that the computer game designing Etienne is being hounded by a crazy human named Pudge. I don't know why Etienne is unable to stop an inept and cartoonish human from hounding him, but I'd be nice and just imagine that he doesn't want to hurt that guy and he lacks the imagination to hide his tracks from Pudge. Or maybe Etienne is just a twit. He's been shot and later torched by Pudge. Later when Pudge tries to kill Etienne one more time, this time with an ax, Rachel jumps between the two of them and gets fatally wounded as a result. What can Etienne do but to make her a vampire?

The subsequent portions of the story is all about how Rachel learns to be a proper vampire under the tutelage of Etienne and his family. Don't worry too much about squeamish elements like blood-sucking and other creepy stuff - the vampires here get their blood from the blood bank. As she falls for Etienne, a threat would trigger some events that would cause Rachel and Etienne to get naked, have sex, the usual.

Like she did in Single White Vampire, Ms Sands seems to be indulging in some light-hearted parody of the usual stereotypes in vampire stories when it comes to Rachel's adventures in her vampire charm school. Unfortunately, Rachel is as irritating as the heroine in Single White Vampire. This time, Rachel's initial denial can be really irritating as she keeps clinging to this idea that she is having some naughty dreams involving a vampire long after everyone else should know that the whole thing is not some dream. She veers from frenetically kooky, emotionally needy, to just plain stupid according to the whims of the author and the requirements of the plot. It isn't long before I find myself wishing that I can cheerfully strangle her silly with my bare hands. Etienne is often surprisingly inept. His being celibate as he looks for his Mrs Right is pretty cute, but very little else about him is charming.

The author drags her characters into so many prolonged little miscommunication issues that Love Bites fizzles out soon enough. While there isn't any overblown big misunderstanding issues here, there are enough small little misunderstandings here arising from some contrived inability to talk that result in many tedious psychobabble and dense moments. Rachel and Etienne come off like two dimwits that will have problems opening a refrigerator door without a manual because the author's tortuous attempts to pad the story with silly conflicts make them really come off like people that can't read between the lines or see the obvious.

This story may work better as a novella, because I can't help feeling that while Ms Sands has the idea for her story, she seems to run out of interesting things to tell me soon after the story has begun. The conflicts in this book feel like an artificial way by the author to keep the word count, and because of these conflicts, the characters come off as flat and dense. While Single White Vampire isn't a perfect book, at least it has some novelty value from its lampoon of the romance writing industry. Love Bites has the flaws of the previous book amplified with very little novelty or original quirks to make up for its flaws. If you haven't read this author's brand of vampire romance but want to start somewhere, get Single White Vampire, skip this one, and hope that the third book will have more substantial plot instead of just scenes from rejected scripts of aborted David E Kelley TV shows.

Rating: 64


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