by Kerrelyn Sparks, fantasy (2006)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-075201-7
Kerrelyn Sparks' How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire and Vamps And The City are deliberately (I hope) absurd for the sake of comedy. I make the mistake of reading Vamps In The City first without reading the book that comes before it, How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire and end up getting hopelessly lost because the the plot in the former is related to the plot of the latter with not many attempt made in the former to help me fill in the blanks. Readers like me that are new to this series, please don't be like me and do read the books in order.
In Ms Sparks' world, the vampires are living among humans but most humans don't know that even if the vampires have their own customs and even TV station, the Digital Vampire Network or DVN that no human is aware of. Don't ask me how. Maybe the vampires have super powers of hypnotism or something.
In the first book in the series, How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire, our vampire millionaire hero Roman Draganesti (not to be confused with the elves of Silvanesti and Qualinesti, Dragonlance fans) has invented fake blood that can be used by vampires so that no humans ever have to sport fang hickeys again. Naturally, while some vampires are pleased, others are not since it would be like eating KFC only this time the meat is made from plastic instead of chicken. Roman therefore has as many enemies as he has friends that his money can buy. One day, he drops by the dentist Shanna Whelan to get an annoying fang problem fixed when coincidentally enough his enemies drop by to say hello to Shanna and it turns out that she has a secret past and they have mutual enemies. Without telling her that he is a fangface, he sets her up under his protection with twelve stereotypical Highlander vampires as her bodyguards.
In the follow-up, Vamps And The City, the CIA's Stake-out (haw, haw) team which includes our hero Austin Erickson are trying to prevent the wedding of Roman and Shanna when Austin ends up going undercover and playing a human contestant in the hottest new reality TV show on DVN, The Sexiest Men On Earth, helmed by Darcy Newhart, one of the many members of Roman's now-disbanded harem. Oh, what to do?
The humor in the two books is comparable to that in books by Stephanie Rowe, where humor is often of the absurd kind with plenty of plays on words as puns and parodies of pop culture to bring out the ha-ha's. If you find the idea of vampires watching Blood And Disorder, the cop show, and soap operas As The Vampire Turns and General Morgue on DVN funny, these books will be exactly your type. If you don't, you may find the punchlines too obvious and therefore not as funny as the author would like them to be. In short, these books are polarizing, I'd think, because some readers will find them funny while others will find them absurd. Me, I find these books pretty funny at times but I also find the author stumbling on her way to the punchline pretty often as well. Still, if Ms Sparks manage to hone her sense of humor a little better like a stand-up comedian would after a few years on the circuit, I'd probably get into the swing of things. I like the books by Stephanie Rowe and Michelle Rowen, for example, and I find Ms Sparks' style comparable to those two authors, especially Ms Rowe's.
I find the first book better than the second, even if the first book shows more debut author problems than the second book. The first book has more of a plot than the second book. While both books rely on the human counterparts remaining unbelievably oblivious to the obvious to keep the story going, the hero is especially problematic in Vamps And The City because he is very disjointed in a one-note manner. Austin's either hating vampires or he's very horny towards the heroine. The characters in both books are pretty flat actually and the author spends more time bringing on what she hopes is the funny and the absurd to keep the story going. Therefore, tomfoolery is rife in both books.
While I don't particularly find the humor that good, I find How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire a pretty interesting read in a novelty kind of way. Vamps And The City is problematic because too much of the story is dependent on the hero acting like a clueless horny twit and the heroine being equally clueless about his real identity even when the clues are right there wagging before her face. (Eeuw, that kind of clue, you perverts.) Therefore, it suggests to me that Ms Sparks needs to work on fleshing out her characters a little better and have her characters behave... well, not that silly a little more often. Once the novelty of her setting fades, as it is starting to happen with Vamps And The City, I may not find much left to appreciate.
How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire gets a 71 while Vamps And The City gets a 68.
How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire at Amazon.com
How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire at Amazon UK
Vamps And The City at Amazon.com
Vamps And The City at Amazon UK
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