Author: Kerrelyn Sparks
Be Still My Vampire Heart (2007)
Wild About You (11/2012)
"V Is for Vampwoman" in Vampires Gone Wild (e-anthology, 2/2013)
The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo (9/2013)
How to Seduce a Vampire (Without Really Trying)(4/2014)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Vampire (12/2014)(might be final book)
NOVEL 15: How to Seduce a Vampire (Without Really Trying)
Back in the 13th century, Zoltan Czakvar watched the local villagers burn his mother at the stake, while his father allowed it to happen. Although Zoltan was present at the burning, he blacked out and woke up far from the scene, healing from severe burns from his mother's death fire. Soon afterward, his father was murdered by unknown assailants. When Zoltan reached the age of 29, he asked his mentor, a vampire, to Turn him so that he could continue his quest to identify his father's killers.
Zoltan leads a lonely life, immersing himself in his huge business empire and in the running of his Transylvanian estate, which (of course) includes a gigantic castle. The locals all know that he is a vampire, but he protects them and supports their vampire-related businesses, so they are quite loyal to him. He even allows bi-weekly tours of his vampire castle that attract scores of tourists. As the novel opens, Howard Barr, the were-bear, and his wife, Elsa Bjornberg, (from Wild About You), are living in the castle. Elsa is redecorating one of the wings, and Howard has been appointed as Zoltan's chief of security. Unfortunately for Howard, Zoltan has never bothered with security and doesn't believe he needs it. Howard's frustrating attempts to clamp down on Zoltan's free-wheeling life style provide some of the humor in this story.
One of the clues that Zoltan has to his father's death is a strangely carved arrow that was found in his father's chest. Zoltan has been searching the world for centuries trying to find out who carved the mysterious arrow. Finally, he gets a new clue when Russell, the vampire who has gone AWOL from Angus's security force, happens to find an identical one in Tibet. Russell is hot on the trail of the current villains of the series: Master Han and Lord Liao (a story arc that began in Sexiest Vampire Alive). Master Han has been using demonic powers to genetically strengthen an army of soldiers that he plans to use to take over the world. Lord Liao is his vampire second-in-command. When Zoltan sees the arrow, he immediately teleports to Tibet, where he meets Neona, one of six fierce female warriors who guard Beyul-La, a mysterious Himalayan valley. The women are strongly anti-male and allow no men anywhere near their valley. Even though Neona tries to kill Zoltan during their first meeting, they are attracted to one another, and thus, the romance part of the story begins. That romance takes up most of the book, with just a few brief battle scenes involving Han and Liao.
As you can imagine, Zoltan and Neona's romantic path is extremely rocky, particularly because Neona's mother (the Queen) despises and distrusts all men and wants Zoltan killed as soon as he impregnates Neona. The only reason any man is allowed to be anywhere near one of the warrior women is to provide a child. If the child is a girl, she stays; if the child is a boy, he is dropped off at a near-by monastery. Some of the younger women are beginning to rebel against this anti-male policy, but the Queen is firm in denying their requests for more freedom. The warrior women are protecting two important secrets, one of which Zoltan discovers early on. That secret will soon have a profound effect on Zoltan’s life. The other secret doesn't surface until near the end of the book, and it is the one that sets off the events leading to the requisite showdown scene between Han's army and the familiar crew of good vamps.
This story drags a bit, primarily because there is very little action. Most of the scenes feature Zoltan teleporting back and forth from Beyul-La to Transylvania to Budapest and back again to Beyul-La. No matter how brutally Zoltan is treated by the women, he is unfailingly polite, charming, suave, and generous. He never loses his temper or his patience, even when the women beat him, tie him up, and threaten to kill him. Neona is an O.K. character until she begins speaking in 21st century colloquialisms. Remember, she is very old (even though she looks like she's in her twenties) and she has lived in this isolated, primitive environment (no electricity, no technology) all her life. Yet, her vocabulary is that of a modern-day woman. This novel was better than the previous one, but not by much. I continue to believe that it's time for these characters to solve all of their major problems and go off into the series-ending land of HEA. That won't happen just yet, though, because this novel ends with a cliff-hanger in which a key character is in the hands of Master Han. Click HERE to read an excerpt from How to Seduce a Vampire (Without Really Trying).
Click HERE to read excerpts from the books. Click HERE to go to a cast of characters with a time line for each of their lives. Click HERE to go to Sparks' "Vampire World" page, which includes games, videos, wallpapers, and other extras.
Here is a book-by-book list of the happy couples. (Note: the species listed here is the person's original species at the beginning of the book, not what he or she might eventually become):
> "V Is for Vampwoman": Mikhail Kirillov (vampire) & Lady Pamela Smythe-Worthing (vampire)
> The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo: Dougal Kincaid (vampire) & Dr. Leah Chin (human geneticist)
> How to Seduce a Vampire (Without Really Trying): Zoltan Czakvar (vampire) & Neona (warrior princess)
> Crouching Tiger, Hidden Vampire: Russell Ryan Hankelburg (vampire) & Jia (were-tigress)
NOVEL 9: Eat Prey Love
The plot, naturally, focuses primarily on the couple's romantic relationship, but there is also an adventure that takes the two to Thailand, where they are endangered by a vampiric cult. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Eat Prey Love.
Unfortunately, this is probably one of my least favorite books in a series that I have really liked in the past, and here are some reasons why:
She shifted her weight back and forth. "I have a strange, urgent feeling like I might…leak"....
'"Well." He felt his cheeks grow warm. "Ye sit there." He motioned to the toilet. "And...let it go"....
She lightly touched the lever, and the toilet flushed. She jumped back, then laughed. "Look at that! Humans are so clever." (p. 104)
Of course, as soon as Gregori and Abigail lay eyes on one another, they fall immediately in lust, with love following soon after. But before the relationship can get underway, Abby must first deal with her innate shyness and her fear and distrust of vampires, and Gregori must keep in mind that his actions will affect the future of all of the vampires in the world. No pressure.
The plot first focuses on the early, awkward stage of the romantic relationship, and then shifts to the secondary plot, which includes a group of Chinese vampires, an army of superhumans, and a demon who owns their souls. The humor comes from the boys-will-be-boys verbal sparring among the vamps and Gregori's wisecracking dialogues with Abby. This book does have some sex scenes, but they are not nearly as frequent or as graphic as in some of the earlier books. Sean Whelan makes an appearance in this book—still as obnoxious and bullheaded as ever—but we are treated to a nice scene in which he gets his just desserts for having mind-controlled his wife for years and years. It's always a good time when Sean gets what's coming to him.
In general, this is a light, humorous series, but some books contain very violent scenes. If you're looking for an SMR series with well-developed characters and action-filled plots, you'll probably enjoy this one. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Sexiest Vampire Alive.
NOVEL 12: Wanted: Undead or Alive
NOVEL 13: Wild About You
In the meantime, we learn Howard's back-story: He was banished from his Alaskan village 20 years ago because the evil Rhett Bleddyn (the villain from book 12) killed his girlfriend and then framed him for the murder. As the story opens, Howard is visiting his Alaskan island village for the first time since his banishment, and he is determined to get revenge against Rhett. At this point, Howard sets circumstances in motion that will have some dangerous and heart-breaking consequences later in the story. While Howard is in Alaska, his grandfather reminds him of the family curse, which involves three female Guardians who created the were-bears as berserkers centuries ago and then betrayed them.
Elsa's family also has a curse legend, but in this one it's the Guardians who are the good guys and the berserkers who are the villains. Elsa has a paw-shaped birthmark on her shoulder, and when Howard shakes her hand for the first time, the mark burns painfully and heats up. Elsa calls her superstitious, battle-axe aunts to find out what's going on, and they immediately drop everything and travel to upstate New York to protect her, packing rifles in their car trunk that they plan to use to kill the berserker—kind-hearted, huggable Howard.
For the most part, this story is all about the romance, which seesaws up and down from page to page and sometimes from paragraph to paragraph. Elsa is drawn to Howard, but her aunts keep reinforcing the image of the crazed, killer berserker from their family legend, so every time she makes up her mind to ignore the curse and go with her heart, they scare her enough to make her turn away from her obviously meant-to-be mate.
The dangerous part of the plot comes at the very end when Rhett and his thugs enter the story line. The climactic scene is quick and violent, but with few details and not much blood. It's really a fairly tame climactic scene. There's also not much sex—just a scene or two near the end. All in all, these stories are beginning to stretch very thin. In the earlier books, there was more non-romantic action, but in the later books the love stories have expanded with so much angst and agitation that the real action is cut down to a few lackluster pages. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Wild About You.
NOVEL 14: The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo
The plot of this book mostly follows the development of the romance between Dougal and Leah as both try to overcome past difficulties as they fall deeply in love over the course of just a few days (yet another insta-matic love story). The plot complication comes in the form of the demon Darafar, who teleports into Romatech, forcing the research team to move to a remote Japanese Island. From there, they hope to capture Master Han's soldiers and inject them with their new vaccine, which will restore their humanity and remove Darafar's demonic influence. Naturally, all kinds of things go wrong, and Dougal must make a huge sacrifice in order to save Leah's sanity.
This isn't one of my favorites in the series, mostly because it tends too much towards melodramatic speechifying and the aforementioned insta-matic love. The first time the Romatech vamps tried to tell Leah exactly who and what they were, she freaked out so badly that they had to wipe her memory. When they decide to try again (as this story begins), she, once again, goes straight into panic mode. Yet, a day or so later, she is already having hot thoughts about Dougal. And just a few days after that, she is on the verge of declaring undying love for him. Although Leah is a highly respected geneticist, her reaction to EVERY new, startling, and/or passionate event is to whisper/breathe/groan/blurt out "Holy crapoly" I suppose this is meant to be cute, but (for me, anyhow) it was a constant reminder of Leah's immaturity. Meanwhile, Dougal spends most of his time blaming himself for the death of his first love, who drowned in a storm at sea three centuries ago. Why do these paranormal heroes (and heroines) always blame themselves for events that they could not possibly have prevented?
At this point, after 14 books I'm beginning to wonder if this series isn't simply suffering from longevity. The earlier books certainly had a smoother flow, sharper humor, better defined characters, and a stronger series story arc. (Maybe I'm just missing Sean Whelan—he was such a great villain!) Click HERE to read an excerpt from The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo.