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Monday, November 21, 2011

"The Real Werewives of Vampire County" (Anthology)

Authors: Alexandra Ivy, Angie Fox, Jess Haines, Tami Dane
Title: The Real Werewives of Vampire County (Anthology)
Plot Type: SMR
Publisher, Kensington, 2011

     This is an anthology that includes four novellas with female protagonists, with the first two being the strongest by far in plot, characters, and world-building. All four are set in suburban werewolf enclaves inhabited by the kind of women you see on Desperate Housewives and on the various "Real Housewives" reality shows. The novellas range in length from 76 pages ("What's Yours Is Mine") to 106 pages ("Where Darkness Lives").

Alexandra Ivy: "Where Darkness Lives," from her GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY Series (Ratings: V4; S4; H3)
     Sophie is the mother of four of the soul mates who have starred in the GUARDIAN books (see quotation below), and now she has returned to the Chicago area, bought herself a beautiful new home, and started a nightclub featuring hot werewolf strippers. Life should be great, but danger is afoot and Sophie needs a bodyguard. Someone has been leaving nasty notes on her door and causing "accidents" that she barely avoids. One of Sophie's friends recommends Luc, and when the two of them meet, sparks fly and lust explodes. The story follows the couple as they attempt to track down Sophie's attacker and wind up in an HEA ending. This is a nicely constructed story that adds depth to the series. Click HERE to read my review of Ivy's GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY Series.

Here is Sophie musing about her beloved daughters: 
     "Not only had she managed to produce a litter of four healthy daughters during a time when the Weres were hovering on the brink of extinction, but one daughter, Darcy, had managed to mate with Styx, the King of all Vampires, while another daughter, Regan, had wed Styx's most trusted vampire guard, Jagr, and a third, Harley, had landed Salvatore as a mate, the current King of Weres. She was literally choking on royal son-in-laws. And if that wasn't enough, her forth daughter, Cassandra, had been revealed as a prophet, the rarest of all creatures." (p. 3)

***   ***   ***   *****   ***   ***   ***

Angie Fox: "Murder on Mysteria Lane" (Ratings: V3; S4; H4)
     Departing from her ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER Series, Fox heads over to Mysteria Lane to tell the story of a werewolf truth-seeker and a sexy vampire detective as they solve the murder of a werewolf trophy wife and prevent a werewolf-vampire war. Heather McPhee is valuable to her pack because she can pull the truth from anyone, but all the werewolves view her as a freak, so she has no real friends, and definitely no real man. Lucian is a detective for the Vampire Council who is assigned to work with the werewolves to discover who killed Sunny, a bimbo-esque werewolf who married a vampire and then fooled around on the side. Heather and Lucian must solve the case quickly or the werewolves will declare war on the vamps. Heather's extremely unsophisticated character is humorously portrayed as she tries to keep up with the Kardashian-type werewives (a vulture, a tiger, a wolf, and a leopard), all of whom are suspects in the murder. This story has just enough humor and character development to make it a hit.

Here is a dialogue between Heather and Tia on the morning after Heather's first encounter with the were-wives. Heather thought that when she put on her best dress, heavy blue eyeshadow, and gobs of mascara she looked sophisticated, but Tia tells her the awful truth:
     "Tia," I said as I felt [my power] move through me, "why are you helping me?"....
     "Have you seen yourself in the mirror?" she asked. "That vulture is going to tear you apart."
     "Okay, so I had a few problems last night," I admitted....
     "Tia furrowed her brow. "A few problems? Red stilettos with a yellow peasant dress?"
      Oh come on. "Red shoes are sassy."
     "You looked like an eight-grade hooker."...
     "Tell me what you really think," I said, resenting my power for the first time. (pp. 136-137)

***   ***   ***   *****   ***   ***   ***

Tami Dane: "Werewolves in Chic Clothing" (Ratings: V2; S2; H1)
     After the first two excellent stories, this one was a letdown. As the novella opens, Christine has quit her job and moved to Stepford to live with her soon-to-be fiancé, Jon, and his teen-age son, Joshua. When Christine meets the seemingly perfect wives in the neighborhood, she worries that this might be the real Stepford, but she soon learns that all of the women have unsavory secrets. When dead animals begin appearing on her doorstep, and yellow eyes shine in the shrubbery at night, Christine wonders if she has made the wrong move by coming here. Her doubts increase when her neighbors tell her that Jon was a suspect in the death of his first wife. The plot resolution plays out awkwardly and predictably as Christine discovers that the residents of Stepford are not as human as they appear to be. This is a novella that should have undergone a lot more polishing and reworking before it was published in order to rectify its clumsy transitions, flat characters, and all-too-predictable ending.

Here's the scene in which Christine meets her first Stepford wife:
     "The world's most perfect woman—Stepford, I'm telling you—was standing a little too close to Jon for my comfort. She was holding a covered Pyrex pan with something red in it...Mrs. Perfect beamed at me. Perfect blond hair. Perfect makeup. Her dress was very well-maintained vintage. 1950s. Silk. I was guessing Harvey Berin." (pp. 202-203)                  

***   ***   ***   *****   ***   ***   *** 

Jess Haines: "What's Yours Is Mine" (Ratings: V2; S2; H2)
      The werewives of the Diamondfang pack spend their days shopping for designer clothing and having their nails manicured. They're always on the lookout for a prospective new female pack member, and they believe that they've found one in Tiffany Winters, a rich and attractive human divorcée who has just moved to their exclusive Still Waters Community. In this world, humans and supernaturals knowingly coexist, and any human has the option of signing a contract to become either a werewolf or a vampire. When Tiffany shows interest in becoming a werewolf, all of the wives but one welcome her. For no apparent reason, Vera is suspicious of Tiffany's motives, taking an instant and visceral dislike to her. The story follows the interaction between Tiffany and the werewives as she tries to get them to accept her. Unfortunately, Tiffany has a big secret that is a major impediment to her plans for a future life as a werewolf. This story doesn't have much action, and the characters are flat and undeveloped. In addition, some scenes (like her telephone conversation with her ex-husband) add nothing to the story. The plot ambles along at a slow pace until Tiffany's big secret is revealed, when it briefly peaks and then just trickles out. Some additional adjustments to the character development and editing of the dialogue might have strengthened this novella a bit.

Here are Cassandra (the alpha's wife) and Tiffany entering a fashionable club for lunch:
     "[Cassandra] promptly paused to bask in the recessed spotlights and let the crowd inside take in the view of her in all her chic splendor. As was to be expected, a low murmur of appreciation started up amidst the candle-lit interior as the tall, Amazonian brunette in killer Ferragamo pumps and a sleek Valentino dress surveyed her domain, finding it wanting. Particularly when Tiffany appeared behind her, settling into an equally statuesque pose in her Manolo strappy stillettos—making her just a smidge taller—as she came to a glittering rest in her vintage Versace beside Cassandra." (p. 290)

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