I Burn For You
by Susan Sizemore, paranormal (2003)
Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 0-7434-6742-6

It is quite a shock to read the first book in Susan Sizemore's vampire romance for Pocket and realize that I Burn For You is a watered-down story filled with the usual vampire romance clichés. I am used to associating Susan Sizemore with decent paranormal and mystery stories, and I enjoyed her Laws Of The Blood series. But I Burn For You is nothing more than a book that seems to emulate the formula of Christine Feehan's Carpathian series. I hate to accuse an author of selling herself out and short, but throughout my reading this book, I come really, dangerously close to wondering why Susan Sizemore is writing such a derivative book.

Vampires have discovered a way, through modern surgical methods, to walk in daylight. Some vampires prefer to stick to the old ways of doing and they end up as heroes in a bad Amanda Ashley vampire novel. Others, like Alec Reynard, play heroes in Susan Sizemore's books. Alec is a powerful vampire of his tribe, there's a hint of some army background in this vampire's life, maybe some secret agent thing, and he's also myriad of other romance hero clich├ęs that are never really made clear in this ill-defined story. He has been sharing erotic dreams with his soulmate (or "bondmate" in this book) Domini Lancer, so when they meet (Alec is hired as Domini's bodyguard), it's the same old italicized "he wants, she's not sure, he wants, he must have, HE WANTS!" psychobabble all the way to the end where Domini realizes that Alec is a powerful vampire. Some minor subplot provides just a bare minimum amount of plot to complement the tedious Christine-Feehan-like "I want! She's my bondmate! I want!" romance here.

Is that what romance readers are supposed to want? Or more importantly, is this what a romance author is supposed to write? One can probably say that this series is targeted to siphon the large pool of fans that devour the six hundred books Christine Feehan puts out every year while the Laws Of The Blood series is for readers that prefer meaty plot starring real vampires. (Although to be fair, Ms Sizemore's characters are way smarter than any of Ms Feehan's characters and the writing is noticeably superior - which only pains me more, because why then is Ms Sizemore trying to be Christine Feehan?) Maybe that's what romance readers want - a watered down Feehan wannabe - but when I Burn For You ends up a nearly plotless book with minimum characterization that goes beyond clichés, I feel rather uneasy at the whole calculated feel of the direction this new vampire romance series is taking.

Well, good for Susan Sizemore if she gets a chunk of the success Christine Feehan is getting with this book. But a part of me feels rather sad if that happens, because I Burn For You seems to be suggesting that going plotless is the way to go and everything will be forgiven as long as the story has an alpha psychic vampire and a heroine that can't make up her mind. What is this saying about romance readers in general?

Oh well. Why am I thinking so much about this, you ask? Because Susan Sizemore is a better author than this, that's why. She can write better stories and she has done so in the past. For her to come out with this transparently calculated story that lifelessly goes through the motions to be a perfectly clichéd vampire romance story, it's like watching Bob Dylan performing his most tired and accessible radio-friendly song at the Oscars a few years back. "Selling out" is an ugly phrase, but those words cross my mind way too many times when I am reading this book.

Rating: 62

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