Tor Romance, $6.99, ISBN 0-765-35451-9
Fantasy Romance, 2006
If you like my paranormal romance drinking game, you have Jenna Black’s Watchers in the Night to thank. When I finish this book, I am in a state of borderline comatose that I need to shake off by using every cliché I find in this book to come up with that drinking game. It’s that or fall asleep on the sofa and have to be carried to bed by my husband, which will be most embarrassing indeed. The best way to describe Watchers in the Night is to call it an Amanda Ashley type of “I am a vampire, boo-hoo-hoo!” tale pretending to be an urban fantasy.
We have the Guardians of the Night, a bunch of vampires who decide not to kill people (and therefore lose most of their powers as a result of their wholesome attitude) in order to protect humans. How sweet of them. Will they clean my fridge as well if I give them a call? Of course, one kill and the Guardian will be tempted to become a Killer (guess what a Killer is – it’s not that tough, I’m sure). If you can’t tell by now, every Guardian’s part time job is to brood and sulk about how tough it is to be a vampire because they have to drink blood, kill people, and Oh, This Is So Terrible. Kill a bad guy, whine, kill another bad guy, mope. Repeat until I begin to feel suicidal.
Our heroine Carolyn Mathers is an ex-cop turned PI who has a gun. Don’t worry, she won’t use it and sully her femininity with such disgusting habits like taking care of herself and other icky stuff. Her ex-boyfriend Gray James will show up to protect her. Gray can’t tell her that he ditched her at the altar two years back because he’s now a vampire, boo-hoo-hoo. Naturally a skanky evil vampire harlot woman made him into a vampire and she will show up later when this story needs a bad guy to blame for all the hero’s neurotic whackjob skeletons in the closet. There’s a serial killer in town who targets Carolyn by sending Gray letters such as this one:
CAROLYN IS A LOVELY, LOVELY WOMAN. JUST MY TYPE. NOW THAT YOU’VE TOSSED HER OUT, YOU WON’T MIND IF I SAMPLE HER, WILL YOU?
THE BROAD STREET BANGER.
Don’t you just love how polite the Broad Street Banger is?
The story follows a horrifically tedious pattern: Gray saves Carolyn, pushes her away, whines that he’s a vampire and therefore unlovable, repeat and rinse. This fellow is self-pitying to the point of being ridiculous all the way to the last two or three pages, when a secondary character scolds him for being a complete ass to the heroine and he miraculously sees the light for a most unconvincing happy ending. Carolyn is a more likable character compared to our vampire Eeyore hero but she’s a one-dimensional character who shows only a brittle side. The fact that Ms Black never gives Carolyn a chance to kick some behinds doesn’t help make Carolyn any more memorable.
Watchers in the Night is crammed full with so many vampire and urban fantasy clichés yet at the same time it is a joyless tale of a self-pitying vampire who doesn’t know how to stop when enough is enough. It is a pain to read a book filled with such unimaginative stringing-together of clichés but it is even more painful to know that I am unable to wrap my fingers around Gray’s neck and squeeze until I feel like my jolly old self again.