Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-59998-924-7
Fantasy Romance, 2008
Regina in the Sun is the first book in RG Alexander’s Children of the Goddess series. It’s an urban fantasy type of romance, which means there are vampires and shapeshifters. Fortunately, Ms Alexander doesn’t resort to any “soulmate” shortcuts to push the concept that her main characters are in love. Indeed, Regina in the Sun may have many familiar elements in an urban fantasy type of romance but it is also mostly free of many of the really tired clichés that plague many other stories of this type.
The plot is quite simple, really. The bad branch of the Weres that are called Shadow Wolves recently attacked our vampire heroine’s people, the Clan Deva, and now the injured Regina is on a mad dash against time to seek help from the nearest community of Trueblood vampires. You see, Reggie and rest of the Clan Deva are made into vampires rather than born as vampires, so the Unborn, as they are called, are considered second-class citizens by those who are born, called the Truebloods. Reggie can only hope that the Truebloods of Ye Olde Haven Pub will be able to put aside their prejudices and come to Clan Deva’s rescue. She collapses and finds some TLC in the hands of the Trueblood diplomat and mediator, Zander Sariel, who will of course find himself attracted to her despite the differences in their social status.
I have my doubts about this story early on when Ms Alexander has an injured Reggie dancing nonetheless in the main hall of Ye Olde Haven Pub because that scene comes off as more amusing in a macabre manner than poignant or anything. However, as the story progresses, I like how Ms Alexander uses the dance and the music to produce a degree of elegant poetry in the story. The story is pretty simple and straightforward, I find, and the main characters are fine. I can’t really consider them memorable because they could use a deeper degree of fleshing out. Reggie is pretty much a damsel-in-distress type of heroine here while Zander is a rather one-dimensional conflicted nice guy. What makes the characters stand out in a way is that they are not the usual urban fantasy stereotypes, if I am making sense here. In other genres, these two would be familiar stereotypes, but in this kind of story, Zander being a non-alpha type who is not obsessed about sex makes a nice change for a hero, as is Reggie who is, for once, not a caustic self-proclaimed bad-ass feisty bitch who can’t shut up.
But if the characters are a bit on the bland side, I find the developments in the plot interesting enough to keep the story going. Ms Alexander can tell an engaging story, if this one is anything to go by, and I, for one, am pleasantly surprised to discover that the main villain is not a jealous skanky female psychopath like the villains in many stories of this kind tend to be. True, the story isn’t exactly written in a most original manner, right down to the predictable villain-blabs-all moment, but it’s still enjoyable to read at the end of the day. Still, I feel that the supposed long-standing prejudices standing in the way of our lovebirds turn out to be way too easily dismissed in the end.
I have one more quibble though. I wish the author would stop with the awkward capitalization of words in her story. To me, one of the tell-tale signs of a fantasy story written by an amateur is the author’s attempts to drive home the fact that her story is so unique and fantastic by unnecessarily capitalizing the first letters of words like Pack, Were, Vampires, and what not. How many Exotic Big Words Punctuated Like This can one find in a fantasy story by, say, Margaret Weis or Neil Gaiman? Not many, right? There are also Exotic Big Words Which are Italicized Because They Are the Most Important Ones of Their Type here and there too. Ms Alexander should try presenting her story more like, well, a story rather than details in some kind of player’s handbook for an RPG campaign.
Still, that technical quibble aside, Regina in the Sun is a pleasant story where I am concerned. It’s not exactly something that I find groundbreaking, but the author nonetheless has an engaging prose that reels me into the story. The characters are likable, the pacing is fine, and the world building is adequate. I won’t mind making a return visit or two to this world of RG Alexander in the future.