St Martin’s Press, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-250-05376-3
Fantasy Romance, 2015
I think I’m getting too jaded by all these by-the-numbers burqa porn masquerading as urban fantasy romance. This one has a vampire guy, so naturally he has to be the most supreme overlord master vampire of them all. Heaven forbid we have a hero who may actually play on equal ground with the bad guys – that will actually give the story some cliffhanging suspense, and we can’t have that. Gotta save all that heart pounding for the sex scenes, after all! Still, the heroine still gets kidnapped at the end anyway, despite the hero and his thousand Robocop-style bodyguards and enforcers doing their best to confine the heroine into a closed pen – for her own good, of course, as the world is such a scary place for strong, independent women everywhere. That’s not stupid, that’s romantic!
No, really, people, you have read this story before. Many, many times. The only thing that makes The Last True Vampire stand out is, perhaps, the guy on the cover having a noticeably engorged right nipple compared to the left one – asymmetrical gynecomastia, nature’s most cruel twist on himbo heroes everywhere.
Mikhail Aristov is, like the title suggests, the last true vampire. All the others are dhampirs, and after he feeds, they all squeeze up to him and feed from his “energy store”, so it’s all like some orgy with everyone dry humping a power generator, only to come away glowing like they have just been vomited upon by Edward Cullen. There is either a great punchline or a so-mad-it’s-genius premise here, but alas, the author is too busy churning out clichés to capitalize on the “Everyone wants a hug from Mikhail!” thing she has here.
Anyway, today Mikhail goes to LA and calls himself Michael, a good thing as readers may get put off by having some kind of ethnic hero in their sexy vampire stories. Michael has enemies – priest-like folks that want to help the world be rid of these bloodsucking things that mind-charm people and drink their blood… and yes, wanting to put a stop to that is a heinous kind of villainy – and his death means the death of all the dhampirs, so the right thing for him to do is to show up at hot clubs and get everyone to go all eyes on him.
Meanwhile, our heroine Claire Thompson needs money. She used to be on the hustler-y side, and she has vowed to go straight, but alas, the bills need to be paid. So, she dons her stripper gear to get into clubs in order to get some dough from horny dumb men. This premise is an excuse for the author to spend pages after pages having Claire condemning every woman she sees along the way as immoral skanks. Okay, she condemns a guy or two too, so maybe she’s an equal-opportunist hater every once in a while. Oh god, those women that go to these clubs are all sluts, says the heroine who immediately has the hero shoving his fingers into her panties barely seconds upon their first meeting. They wear make-up, dress up to look hot, and look to get humped all night – WHAT SKANKS. Michael agrees too – skanks, skanks, everywhere, how depressing, as he fingers the honeypot of the virtuous maiden ten seconds into their first bumping together.
All of a sudden, Claire is… special? She’s not a dhampir, but she… has his soul or something. Whatever. She’s basically another heroine with special snowflakes shooting out of her rear end. All of a sudden, the bad guys show up – maybe the fingering has caused some kind of bat signal to beam up into the sky for the villains to see: THE HERO’S MATE IS HERE, COME GET HER – and, naturally, Michael and his sequel brothers Buy My Book, Mine Too, Don’t Forget My Book Too, and That One Too all get together to drag Claire into his house and keep her confined there. For her own good, naturally. Claire makes some lip service protests about how she is too strong and independent to be treated like a sack of turnips, but on the most part, she’s too busy being the target of the bad guys. This is one heroine who is created specifically to be a damsel in distress – maybe because the author wants money from JR Ward‘s disgruntled fans.
As for the romance, you know the dance, I’m sure. She’s suddenly his mate, she insists that she feels this “connection” shortly after they meet (to be fair, his fingers were in her panties) despite them having no decent, remotely believable romantic interaction, blah blah blah. The author is more concerned with churning out the same old routine of this constantly distressed heroine alternating between being ravished and being rescued by the hero.
And the whole thing is boring, because the author doesn’t succeed in making this one feel even a little fresh. The canon is flimsy and has the stench of “I’m making crap up as I go along!”, the hero and the heroine have little chemistry, and yet, the sex scenes are nowhere intense or numerous enough to make up for that lack. Basically, I spend nearly the entire book either yawning, checking out the clock, or rolling up my eyes at the inanities of the plot.