A Quick Bite
by Lynsay Sands, paranormal (2005)
Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-077375-8

I once played a game on my personal computer where I played as a hero who would meet many allies along the course of the game. The ally will follow me so after a while, there would be my hero on the screen with a line of seven or eight other cute characters following him wherever he goes. I turn left, they turn left. I turn right, they turn right. As a result, playing the game becomes quite cumbersome since we have a big party making their way through narrow gaps and tunnels.

Lynsay Sands' Avon debut A Quick Bite reminds me of that game because wherever the heroine Lissianna Argeneau goes, every one of her remaining unmarried Argeneau family members must go as well, and you have no idea how creeped out I get when this intrusion often comes this close to the bed that she and the hero Dr Gregory Hewitt are sharing. I know, this is Ms Sands' first book with Avon and while she has started the vampire Argeneau series with LoveSpell and she's just bringing it over to Avon, she wants to introduce the vampires to a bunch of new readers. But A Quick Bite is not the way to do that.

Lissiana Argeneau feels faint at the sight of blood, which is a big problem for a vampire like her, and so far she has been dependent on her other family members to supply her with blood. She is currently worried about what will happen if her family members are no longer here to help her and is determined to do something about her phobia. Her mother Marguerite decides to give something the best birthday present ever: a shrink that will cure her of her mental issues! The plan is to get him to cure him and then brainwash him of the memory of his time with Lissi. This plan is good, or so Marguerite believes, because Gregory is supposed to be on vacation and therefore nobody will miss him if he doesn't show up at work. Unfortunately, Gregory turns out to be resistant to the vampiric brainwashing effects so now Lissi is stuck with a man who knows all about her and the Argeneaus. She has no choice but to love him now, of course.

The plot is pretty silly but there are bigger problems with A Quick Bite.

As I've mentioned, intrusive secondary characters are a big problem with this book. We have Mirabeau the aunt, a few younger females, a younger male relative, the mother, and probably a few more I've tried to blot out of my mind all tagging along with Lissi and Greg and these characters aren't even well-drawn: they all sound the same and serve no function other than to be multiple talking-heads sharing the same thought bubble. I don't know why we need so many cardboard-thin characters. Maybe it's to remind everybody to buy the planned future sequels.

Another big problem with this story is that nearly everything about this story is pure exposition material. Greg becomes the student - and the placeholder for the reader - as he learns about about Ms Sands' version of vampirism, the origins of the vampires, and the behavioral pattern of the vampires when he's not being introduced to a cast of hundreds (or so it seems) of sequel baits. Very little of this story is about Greg and Lissi. They have little space to breathe before Lissi's family members show up to interrupt the foreplay with their intrusive "Are you two shagging yet?" hee-hee-hee's that aren't as funny as Ms Sands imagines and Argeneau Vampirism 101 lectures.

The expositional material is pretty interesting and I must say the concept of vampirism being the result of nano machines implanted in the body is a novel and good one. It's too bad that Ms Sands cannot find a less didactic manner to introduce the concepts to the reader. When this book is not being a painfully unfunny ensemble comedy starring a bunch of meddlesome twits, it's a dry textbook on Argeneau vampirism. I wonder what happened to the story and the romance.

Rating: 48

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