by Emma Petersen, paranormal (2006)
Cobblestone Press, $3.99, ISBN 978-1-60088-083-4
Seducing St. Nic is the first book in the The Girl's Guide To Dating The Evil Undead series, which is truly a multicultural series in the sense that the hero and the heroine aren't just of different races, one of them isn't alive, technically.
In this contemporary story, vampires are happily living with humans. Our heroine Barbara Jean Ruiz is human and works for the vampire Cypriano San Nicolo. When the story begins, she's not pleased to be summoned to work on the day before Christmas. Then the boss starts making the move on her and she's suddenly in the festive mood all over again. But is she Christmas dinner for the boss or something more?
I don't know what to say about Seducing St. Nic because everything about it puzzles me. In the author's setting, every human knows that vampires feed on human blood. So why are vampires living with humans again? Why aren't humans pulling an Enforcer thingie on them? Why is Barbara continuing to work for Cypriano when he isn't paying her that much and she's worried that he'll have her for dinner? She's worried that he will kill her, mind you, not just taking a tiny nibble when he's looking at her hungrily, so why work for him? Why would her family members warn her about working for a vampire, and still let her work for him? Are there any laws protecting human employees of vampires?
What, you say I'm overthinking things? But Barbara is worried about which role she is to play for her boss - food or lover - so it's not as if I can just pretend that the questions I've raised don't matter. Seducing St. Nic doesn't actually warrant so much questions, to be honest, because this is a short throwaway story with very little character development and a most unconvincing romance so it's probably easier to just forget about this story than to worry about its premise. But I need something to say here, you see, and I suspect a single sentence like "This is a forgettable story that is too short to be consequential" will only get people writing in and complaining that I trash books without explaining why those books don't work with me.
So, in order not to waste any more words on this book, I'll just wrap things up here. One, this story is too short to actually do anything other than to suck my $3.99 down a black hole. Two, the premise is all about Laurell K Hamilton-esque urban fantasy clichés (minus the creepy stuff, of course) stringed together without any attempt to create a fully-visualized alternate reality that makes sense to the reader. Seducing St. Nic is one of those neither here nor there short stories. It's not bad enough to remember but it's so poorly developed that it's not memorable in a positive manner. In short, this is one of those published short stories that really don't do anything other than provide instant gratification on the reader's part. It's hard to explain, much less justify, its existence other than, I suppose, this is some kind of "toilet paper" book which you read and then discard without a second thought, especially if you have $3.99 to spare and you don't really care how you use it.
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