Sourcebooks Casablanca, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-0491-4
Paranormal Romance, 2014
Just like its predecessor Bite Me, Your Grace, Brooklyn Ann’s One Bite Per Night is old school vampire romance. If you were reading romance around in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, you may recall how authors like Amanda Ashley and such would plumb the popularity of Anne Rice’s vampires to come up with whiny emo vampires constantly shuddering with desire for a virginal lass and beating themselves up because, oh, they are such monsters to want to defile the purity of these special wide-eyed does! This was before the rise of urban fantasy – a time when vampires lived in castles and heroines are all virginal, wide-eyed, and bedecked with “artistic” tendencies like dancing the ballet or painting with watercolors. Well, this story throws back to those days, with the only concession to modern times is the author making the hero part of a band of brothers type, perfect for a series.
Lydia Price’s parents were estranged from her father’s blue-blooded family due to the man marrying a woman beneath his station. The couple ran off to America to start a new life, but this story came to an unhappy end when Lydia is now an orphan and she learns that her father’s money and properties would go to a relative who has no intention of looking after her welfare. She is to be shipped back to London into the care of her grandmother.
Her grandmother has no intention of taking in Lydia, whose scandalous background would affect the chances of her “real” granddaughter’s debut in Society. Therefore, she evokes an old agreement with Vincent Tremayne, the Earl of Deveril (say that slowly, and then try not to roll up your eyes when I tell you that Vincent’s nickname among the Ton is ‘Devil Earl’), to pass Lydia off into Vincent’s care. Vincent, unknown to most people, is the Lord Vampire of Cornwall, and he knows very well that he is not suitable to be a guardian of a human girl even if he wants the role, which he doesn’t. Still, he has no choice but to take her in, as the old hag threatens to put Lydia into an asylum if he doesn’t agree. He has a plan: he’d get the old hag to double the girl’s dowry, add to it himself, and then do all he can to marry the girl off and have the girl steal the thunder from the old hag’s other granddaughter just because.
And then he sees Lydia, and oh no, she’s so attractive and hot, he can’t say no to his inner horny beast…
One Bite Per Night is almost extraordinary in how much it clings to the formula of old school vampire romance. Vincent broods like he’s paid a dollar for each crinkle on his forehead, and he takes every opportunity to believe that he is a monster who is molesting the pure heroine like some kind of creepy old boogeyman. Whole Lydia is fortunately not a wide-eyed idiot, her attraction to Vincent is standard “attracted to a Goth fantasy” sort without much development – it just is, because he’s hot and acts like a brooding larger-than-life Byron-esque dude. She also has no sense of boundaries or survival – she has no problems wandering into Vincent’s room and poking at his things when she’s not running off into trouble. Oh, and she paints. An artist, how special.
These two go through the same old song and dance – she is practically gagging for the Devil Peen, but he can’t touch her (okay, he does, but he’d whine a lot afterwards) because he is a monster, he is a vampire, et cetera. There is a bad guy out to get Vincent, and since Lydia has a tendency to sneak out or flounce off into night on her own, I’m sure you can guess what happens eventually. Late in the story, Vincent actually points out that if he’d moped less, and actually accepted Lydia’s all but offering herself on a platter to him, and went through legal means to turn her into a vampire, a lot of the drama could have been avoided. Likewise, Lydia sighs that if she hadn’t flounced off on her own into the night, the remaining drama has been avoided as well. Well, good for these two to have that much self awareness, but that doesn’t change the fact that these two had been silly children very often.
Still, this story is enjoyable despite the whole childish mess the two get into and the frequent jarringly contemporary turn of phrases that pepper this story. As I mentioned in the review of the author’s previous book, the author has a very lively and bouncy narrative style – her humor can make me break into a smile very easily, and for all the tomfoolery in this story, nothing is ever boring. Predictable, yes, but I still find myself turning the pages eagerly.
Therefore, One Bite Per Night has its share of childish nonsense that may not endear it to everyone, but its breezy charm is infectious. Imagine what happens if the author comes up with something less predictable or tiresome.