by Jaye Roycraft, paranormal (2001)
ImaJinn, $13.75, ISBN 1-893896-66-8
Jaye Roycraft's Double Image is a vampire romance. I'm sure readers familiar with vampire romance will know the drill where Double Image is concerned because let's face it, the number of actual plot lines in that line can be counted in one hand and this book is all about the Arrogant Mysterious Vampire Seduces A Mortal Dingbat.
The hero Dalys Aldgate is a typical vampire hero: he can hypnotize people, he is good-looking, he is dangerous, the same old thing. The good thing about this guy is that when I say he is dangerous, he really is. He isn't some moaning-meenie whining about being a vampire. The heroine Tia Martell is an ex-cop who now makes a living by being a freelance photographer. Shooting the haunted Bishop's Inn leads to her being in the wrong place and the wrong time and setting her up as a pawn between the inn owner Dalys Aldgate (or Dallas Allgate as he is known today) and his nemesis Jermyn St James.
On the bright side, the pace of this book is fast. There is very little time for the vampires to brood as they are always trying to upstage each other. On the downside, their pawn, Tia, is completely useless in this book. Tia may be an ex-cop but she not only bungles up the one time she has to use her gun, she is also herded out of the room by Dallas whenever danger looms. Ironically, this is how she always gets into trouble - Dallas sends her away and she goes away alright - ankle-deep into the smelly stuff. There is one time when she actually starts questioning what she is doing in this story but on the whole, she is a bewildering character. She is too calm when she is faced with the fact that Dallas is a vampire and more perplexingly, she insists that she trusts him when he has given her no reason to. Ms Roycraft tells me that Tia was a cop once so she was used to seeing strange things in life. Is this why Tia, after witnessing Dallas murder a man, asks him whether she should call the cops? And then insists that she can trust him soon after? Her gullible trust, her being shepherded around like some helpless donkey by the men around her making her always the last to know about the threats to her life, and a few scenes where Dallas nearly kills her or considers leaving her all make Tia a heroine who is close to falling down the chasm of too-stupid-must-die. Did I mention that she doesn't do anything in this book?
There are some questions that should have been answered but never are. What exactly is Tia's gift of seeing "killer auras" all about? A little detail would be appreciated. Is Tia congenitally stupid or is she being stupid because she is under Dallas' thrall? If it's the latter, I don't think this book is as romantic as it wants to be. Dallas isn't a nice man at all but Tia makes him out to be one without her having any good reason to do so, which only makes Tia come off as even more too dumb for words.
Ms Roycraft's vampire mythology is interesting. The soul trapped behind the mirror concept is really interesting and should have been explored deeper. But the bewildering heroine, her passive nature, and her often irrational leaps of faith where the hero is concerned make Double Image a test of my patience. This is one book that somehow veers off-track soon after Tia meets Dallas and goes all stupid on me and I don't think even the author knows how we all ended up together at the bottom of this pit.
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