Only the most recent posts pop up on the HOME page. For searchable lists of titles/series reviewed on this Blog, click on one of the Page Tabs above. On each Page, click on the series name to go directly to my review.

AUTHOR SEARCH lists all authors reviewed on this Blog. CREATURE SEARCH groups all of the titles/series by their creature types. The RATINGS page explains the violence, sensuality, and humor (V-S-H) ratings codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their Ratings. The PLOT TYPES page explains the SMR-UF-CH-HIS codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their plot types. On this Blog, when you see a title, an author's name, or a word or phrase in pink type, this is a link. Just click on the pink to go to more information about that topic.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Jessica Sims: "Between a Vamp and a Hard Place"

Author:  Jessica Sims (aka Jill Myles, aka Jessica Clare) 
Title:  Between a Vamp and a Hard Place 
Plot Type:  Soul Mate Romance (SMR) 
Ratings:  Violence4; Sensuality4; Humor—3 
Publisher and Titles:  Pocket (1/2016) 

NOTE: Some sources (including the author) are including this novel in the MIDNIGHT LIAISONS SERIES, but it is actually a separate novel that has no connection to Midnight Liaisons, the paranormal dating service that gives this series its title. Click HERE to read my reviews of the four MIDNIGHT LIAISONS novels.

                               PUBLISHER'S BLURB                               
     Lindsey Hughes loves antiques and couldn’t be happier to make a living in the estate sale business in Lincoln, Nebraska. But when her partner, Gemma, buys an entire estate without her approval, Lindsey is forced to clean up the mess herself. 

     The two women travel to the ancient house in Venice, Italy, where Lindsey soon discovers more than she (never) bargained for. While digging through the hoarder’s trove that fills every floor, she finds a secret staircase behind a wall that leads down to a strange coffin…with an even stranger inhabitant. 

     Vampire Rand FitzWulf has been trapped in his coffin for 600 years and he’s had plenty of time to think about revenge. Now that he’s awake, he’s ravenous, and there’s a delicious-smelling woman with a rare blood type in his basement. He’s not about to take no for an answer, not when it’s coming from a succulent human female with a scent that could drive any vampire mad with lust. But Rand can’t let a potential blood vassal distract him from his mission. 

    Forced to work with the vampire warlord, Lindsey discovers a dark underworld she never knew of and has to fight her own conflicting desires. Because Rand is as bloodthirsty as he is charming, and he wants Lindsey for his own. Can she give in to Rand’s needs—all of them—even if it puts her heart at stake? And what will she do when she finds out Rand doesn’t intend to survive his quest for vengeance? As the unlikely pair travels across Europe, will Rand be overtaken by his thirst for blood—or his thirst for love?

                         MY REVIEW                         
     This is a standard vampire romance featuring a centuries-old, handsome, sexy vampire and an insecurebut feisty21st century woman. Unfortunately, the author props her story up on some well-worn tropes and includes too many scenes featuring the heroine introducing said vamp to modern technology (e.g., escalators, popcorn machines, remote controlled devices, television, cell phones) and teaching him the modern rules about how men can (and cannot) treat woman (no more "wenches," please). The publisher's blurb (above) summarizes the simplistic plot: The heroine rescues the vampire from centuries of imprisonment and then helps him find his evil master after trekking from Venice to Rome to Switzerland to Romania. Naturally, the two fall for one another almost immediately and stumble along the usual rocky road to their predictable HEA.

     One major logistical problem with this story is that Lindsey and Gemma discover Rand's coffin in the deep basement ("hundreds of steps" down a "twisting spiral staircase") of an apartment in an ancient building in Venice, Italy. In the stone-walled basement, the two women find lots of antique porcelain stored in wooden crates filled with old, but dry, strawno mold, no rot. Most of the crates hold receipts dating back to the 1860s. Immediately we know that this is entirely impossible because if there were any deep basements in ancient Venetian houses, they would be filled with sea water or would at least be suffering from the effects of frequent salt-water immersion. Venice, like New Orleans, is not a basement-friendly city. Some Venetian houses do have "basements," but they are at the first-floor level, with living quarters located on the floors above. Yet we are supposed to believe that Rand's perfectly preserved wooden coffin"warm cherry color...polished to a high sheen"has survived in pristine condition after being stored in this basement room for at least 150 years, maybe more. I don't think so. (And yes, I realize that this is a vampire story, so my disbelief should already be suspended, but really, couldn't the author have put Rand's coffin basement in a more realistic place?) 
"About four times every winter…the [flood warning] sirens wail...Once the level reaches 120 centimeters above normal, a quarter of the city is under water. After five more centimeters, the boats stop running. Everything grinds to a halt. That's acqua alta…The experience…means flooded basements and damp walls, even above ground. Although Venetians are used to it, the flooding is getting worse every year. In many privately owned houses, the occupants have given up on the ground floor and only live on the upper floors." Between 1923 and 2013 alone, seventeen severe floods ranging from 140 to 190 cm above normal have occurred, submerging 50 to 90 percent of the city. Click HERE or HERE for more information about Venice's watery problems.
Here are a few more contradictions and inconsistencies: 

     >> In Lindsey's (first person) narrative, she makes a big deal out of how broke she and Gemma are, particularly after Gemma empties their bank account to pay for the contents of the Venice apartment. ("That was "rent money and shop money and eat money and grocery money.") The women can't even afford to pay for a hotel room in Venice. But then when Lindsey and Rand go off on their European travels, Gemma pushes "a wad of cash" into Lindsey's hands, and then Lindsey uses her credit card to pay for multiple train tickets, car rentals, meals, and hotel rooms with no problem at allplus an entire new wardrobe for Rand. 

     >> Rand's vampire nature makes him unable to cross running water, yet he has no problem getting around the canals of Venice. 

     >> Lindsey is a control freak, never able to take direction from anyone. But as soon as Rand appears on the scene, she becomes his doormat, verbalizing just a few complaints before agreeing to do whatever he wants her to do. 

     >> There is a major inconsistency involving the villain's ability to get into Rand's mind, but if I explain it here, it would be a spoiler. I'll just say that if the "mind thing" were as powerful as it appears to be, some events in the story would be unnecessary. 

     The romance between Lindsey and Rand never really clicked for me. Lindsey has some lusty thoughts about Rand, but she remains skittish until the 20-page standard consummation scene about three-quarters of the way into the book. Although the two share basic details about their back-stories, they never really have any emotional moments in which they open themselves up to one another. The overall plot is stale and predictable, and the characters (especially Gemma) are so thinly developed that they are almost as one-dimensional as the major villain. Nothing about this book is fresh or inventive. Instead, it's a story that I felt that I had read beforemany, many times before. 

     Although the author says on her web site that this novel is part of her MIDNIGHT LIAISONS SERIES, I don't see the connection. Click HERE and scroll down a bit to read an excerpt from Between a Vamp and a Hard Place.

No comments:

Post a Comment