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I could apologize and admit that this review is extremely late, but instead, I'll say that it's very early for the next Christmas season. In any case, this is a quartet of holiday novellas, each with a vampire hero and, usually, a human heroine, although one is an angel. In each story, the heroine is placed in a dangerous situation late in the action so that the hero can sweep in and save her, thus realizing that they were meant to be together forever.
Laurie London: "Enchanted by Blood" (from the SWEETBLOOD series)
Hero: Trace Westfalen, former Guardian, now set to be a member of the vampire Governing Council
Heroine:Charlotte Grant, human interior decorator
Final Line: "You were true to your yourself and followed your heart, which made you the man of my dreams."
A year before the story begins, Trace had a fling with Charlotte, never letting her know of his vampire heritage. When Charlotte accidentally walked in on Trace's cousin, Sabastian, in the midst of sucking a human dry, Trace decided that he had to give her up, so he completely wiped out her memory of their affair. As the story opens, Trace saves Charlotte from a pair of muggers, and is so swept away by her nearness that he lets the affair begin once again. The plot follows Trace through the usual series of interior monologues as he keeps telling himself all the reasons why he has to stop seeing Charlotte. Needless to say, he can't talk himself out of it. By the final scene, when Charlotte is placed in grave danger, Trace realizes that he'd rather have Charlotte than his Council position. For me, this is the strongest and most enjoyable story with a well-told story and interesting lead characters. Click HERE to read my review of the SWEETBLOOD SERIES.
Michele Hauf: "Monsters Don't Do Christmas"
Hero:Daniel, a former New York City investment banker who was bitten and turned by a vampire street gang a year ago
Heroine:Olivia Adorata, a famous (human) singer who is hiding out for the holidays in a small apartment in a nondescript NYC neighborhood
Final line: "Merry Christmas, my monster lover."
Daniel has not yet made peace with his vampire self. He calls himself a monster and believes that he is doomed to lead a dark and grim existence. One night while he is being attacked by a pair of werewolf thugs, Olivia happens along, and the werewolves run away. Daniel and Olivia are mutually attracted and follow through on that attraction almost immediately, but Daniel is sure that their relationship is going nowhere. When Daniel tells Olivia that he is a monster (without explaining why), she tells him that she, too, is a monster. Her monster self, she explains, is the false stage persona that she has to maintain in front of her fans. Eventually, Olivia discovers Daniel's vampire secret. By the end of the story, she is also placed in danger so that Daniel can save her. For me, this story is weakened by the whole monster issue, which is played up to the point of overload. Hauf is also the author of the HAWKE'S ASSOCIATES paranormal series. Click HERE to ready to read my review of that series.
Caridad Pineiro: "When the Herald Angels Sing"
Hero:Damien, a vampire who believes that his soul cannot be saved
Heroine:Angelina: Damien's guardian angel and his true love
Final line: "Believe in the power of love and all of Heaven will be yours."
This story has a slight similarity to Charles Dickens's Christmas Carol, in that Damien has a series of visions about the past and the present and then goes on to enact his future. All of the visions focus on Angelina, who is murdered twice just before Christmas right in front of Damien. After her first death, Angelina doesn't come back for 100 years, and as soon as she returns, she is killed again almost immediately. The next time, she's only gone for a year, and as this novella begins, she's back. The villain who keeps killing Angelina is Pedro Ramirez, a demon who wants to deliver Damien's soul to Satan—if he can just get Damien to doom his soul by taking a life.
Alexis Morgan: "All I Want for Christmas"
Hero:Eagan McHale, vampire detective who tries to keep Seattle's streets free of low-life vampires.
Heroine:Della Breit, human owner of a diner in a low-rent area of Seattle
First line: "Deck the freakin' halls."
Eagan is working on a case in which teen-agers have been disappearing off the streets. He has narrowed his search for the perpetrators to an eight-block area in which Della's diner is right in the center. When Eagen stops into the diner for a cup of coffee one cold night, he and Della discover their mutual attraction. He starts hanging around, and they soon become lovers. Eagen, of course, has his share of angst-filled interior monologues about how their relationship can never be, but (once again) that turns out not to be the case. By the end of the story, Eagen must save Della from danger. Morgan has also written the PALADINS OF DARKNESS series. Click HEREto ready to read my review of that series.