Series: HALF-MOON HOLLOW SERIES (NICE-GIRLS spin-off)
Plot Type: Soul-Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings: Violence—3; Sensuality—4; Humor—4
Publisher and Titles: Pocket
.5 "Driving Mr. Dead" (e-novella, 1/2012)
1 The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires (8/2012)
1.5 "Undead Sublet" in Undead in My Bed anthology (9/2012)
2 A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses (7/2013
2.5 "I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas" (11/2014)
3 The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire (3/2015)
5 Where the Wild Things Bite (7/2016)
5.5 "Big Vamp on Campus" (6/2016)
6 The Accidental Sire (TBA)
NOVEL 5: Where the Wild Things Bite
In Molly Harper’s witty new paranormal romance, a rare-book expert is delivering a package to Half Moon Hollow when her plane goes down, and a sexy vampire comes to her rescue. He’s clearly got ulterior motives, but does he want to date her…or devour her?
Delivering a rare book to a valued customer is definitely part of mild-mannered archivist Anna Whitfield’s job description. You know what isn’t? Protecting her precious cargo from mid-flight theft by the very pilot who is flying her to Half-Moon Hollow…while trying to appear as unappetizing as possible to the only other passenger, a vampire. Undead bookstore owner Jane Jameson could be waiting a very long time for her book. Possibly forever.
Fortunately, Anna’s dashing fanged companion Finn Palmeroy helps her fend off the attack, but not before their plane crash lands in the forest hundreds of miles from civilization. Great, now she’s stranded with a priceless tome and a rakish vampire whose bedtime is fast approaching. Why does everyone want this book so badly, anyway? Anna just wants to get it to Jane before Finn decides to turn her into dinner—or sweep her off her feet. Okay, the second option is really tempting. But they’re not out of the woods yet.
Anna is a researcher who specializes in documents relating to supernatural species, and she is returning an ancient book about werewolves to Jane Jameson Nightengale after authenticating it. Unfortunately, someone else wants the book and has engineered the plane crash to keep Anna from reaching Half Moon Hollow.
The plot of the book has Anna and Finn stumbling around the forest for days with various pursuers turning up now and then in search of the book. Harper follows the tried and true (and predictable) paranormal romance formula of throwing her hero and heroine together in an isolated place under rough conditions to make sure that they bond quickly and permanently. There are the usual bumps in their romantic road—primarily a bad childhood and a romance-gone-wrong in Anna's past and trust issues that come with Anna's realization of Finn's lifetime of activities on the wrong side of the law—specifically as they relate to her present situation. To sum it up, then: more of the usual antics that we find in all books in this series.
I don't mind (too much) the silly, sometimes implausible, situations that Harper puts her couple in, but I take issue with the lazy way she fumbles time lines and continuity. The story is filled with improbabilities, factual errors, and blatant time line errors. Here are just a few:
> Anna sees trout lilies blooming and thinks about eating them, but the story takes place in August, and trout lilies bloom only in early spring. This is a common wildflower, so I didn't even have to google it for a fact check. Problem: Harper failed to do her research.
> Anna rubs her wasp stings with jewelweed blossoms to soothe them and then smells so good that Finn comments on it. But you don't use the jewelweed blossoms to treat stings and rashes; you use the leaves and stems—so no sweet smell. Problem: Harper failed to do her research.
> For years, Anna has been on a complicated regimen of heavy-duty anxiety drugs, but her pills are left behind when the plane crashes. Somehow, she manages to quit her medication cold-turkey with absolutely no withdrawal symptoms, which is an impossibility. Problem: Harper failed to do her research.
> In one scene, a group of shifters passes very near Finn and Anna and comment that they have been "wandering in the damn woods, up to our asses in deer ticks," but Finn and Anna never encounter a single tick. Problem: Harper ignores reality, but then calls attention to her error in the text.
> Anna has an encyclopedic knowledge about the poisonous snakes, spiders, and plant life in the Kentucky wilderness, but she and Finn never encounter any insects at all—except for one wasp nest that Anna uses as a weapon. And no poison ivy. Problem: It is highly unlikely that Anna never gets bitten by a mosquito, a tick, a snake, or a spider, or that she never came in contact with poison ivy.
> In the aftermath of the inevitable showdown scene at the end of the story, Anna watches Finn escape from being tied up ("I could see Finn wriggling out of his restraints."), but then a few pages later, she is shocked to see him unbound ("How did you get loose?"). Short memory, Anna? Also, Finn is gagged with "a bandanna knotted around his mouth," but even with his mouthed stuffed full of cloth, he manages to toss off some sarcastic remarks. Problem: Harper (and/or her editor) did not do a proper continuity read-through
> Because Finn is a vampire, he and Anna do most of their traveling through the woods during the nighttime hours, but Anna always seems to be able to see where she is going. Have you ever been in the woods at night, Molly Harper? Even when the moon is full, the trees block the light. It is so dark that you can't see your hand in front of your face, and certainly not the ground under your feet. Problem: Harper ignored the reality of the lack of light in a forest at night.If you have enjoyed previous books in this series, you'll probably like this one, but be prepared to suspend disbelief even more than usual.
Click HERE to go to this novel's Amazon.com page where you can read or listen to an excerpt by clicking either on the cover art for print or the "Listen" icon for audio.
NOVELLA 5.5: "Big Vamp on Campus"
In Molly Harper’s newest paranormal romantic comedy set in her beloved Half Moon Hollow, a vampire princess must learn how to navigate life as a college student—including living with her messy, annoying, frustrating new roommate.
Ophelia Lambert, four-hundred-year-old vampire princess and college freshman, suddenly finds herself domesticated by humans and forced to suffer the indignities of dorm rooms, communal bathrooms, and a roommate with sticky fingers.
As one of the hundreds of undead venturing into post-secondary education, Ophelia has a lot more to learn that just “undead studies”—she has to learn to get along with her fellow vampire classmates and worst of all, her human ones, along with getting back into the good graces of the World Council for the Equal Treatment of the Undead.
Can this once all-powerful vampire princess balance classes and campus life with romance, human- and vampire relations, and not sinking her teeth into her annoying roommate?
This novella is basically a very long interior monologue in which 400-year-old vampire Ophelia agonizes over the awfulness of her life now that Jane Jameson-Nightengale has forced her to live in a dormitory and attend college classes. In chapter after chapter, Ophelia muses about her past triumphs and tragedies, complains about her present living conditions, fights with her roommate, worries about her relationship with her boyfriend, and—finally—begins to make some friends—human girlfriends, no less.
At that point, the novella becomes a segue into Harper's next novel, The Accidental Sire, which stars Ben Overby, a human friend of Ophelia's boyfriend (Jamie) and Meagan Keen, one of Ophelia's new friends.
There are three good reasons to read this story:
1. To get some insights into Ophelia's character, which until now has been portrayed in a rather one-dimensional manner.
2. To find out what's going on in a mysterious subplot in which someone pretending to be Jane commands Ophelia to turn over a list of all of her local vampire contacts—all of whom are on the shady side of vampire/human law—to Tina, the human residence hall director.
3. To read the introduction to the next novel. At the end of "Big Vamp on Campus," the publisher includes a long excerpt from The Accidental Sire so you will be able to see exactly how that novel expands forward from the final events of the novella.
NOTE: In the NICE GIRL series, the name of the town is Half Moon Hollow, but in this series, a hyphen has been added: Half-Moon Hollow. I'm not sure why this inconsistency exists, but that's why you'll see both spellings in my reviews of the two series.
NOVELLA .5: "Driving Mr. Dead"
Miranda Puckett is a plucky—but extremely klutzy—young woman who views life as "the search for the next great adventure." Miranda likes "waking up each morning not knowing what I would be doing by the end of the day." Unfortunately, everything that Miranda gets involved in goes bad—horribly bad. Every single career that she has tried has failed miserably—photographer, yacht mechanic, waitress in a vampire bar, taxi driver, magician's assistant. You name it, she's tried it—and failed. As this story begins, Miranda is on her first assignment for Iris Scanlon's vampire concierge service (Beeline). She is supposed to pick up a reclusive vampire in Washington State and drive him back to Half-Moon Hollow in a SUV that has been specially converted for 24-hour-a-day use by vampires.
Collin Sutherland, Miranda's haughty client, is a sexy (of course) 260-year-old vampire who has lived alone in an isolated rural area since 1948. Collin has psychic abilities, and his senses get overwhelmed when there are lots of people around. As it turns out, accident-prone Miranda is just what he needs to kick-start his lonely life. As they head out on their road trip, they have one catastrophe after another until they wind up as penniless hitchhikers. Along the way, they fall head over heels in love (as we knew they would from page 1).
This is a typical Harper story, with its feisty heroine and arrogant hero (who just needs a modern woman to bring him down a notch or two). There's no evil villain, just their bizarre on-the-road misadventures. A minor subplot has Miranda worrying about what to do about her ex-fiancé, who has cheated on her but claims that he wants her back, and that story line ends quite satisfactorily (if predictably). The humor comes from the sarcasm-filled conversations between Miranda and Collin and from their various farcical calamities. The story is light and fluffy and fun. Just don't think too hard about the sprinkling of inconsistencies in the plot. Click HERE to read an excerpt.
NOVELLA 1.5: "Undead Sublet"
Click HERE to read my review of the anthology, Undead in My Bed. That post includes a review of the novella, "Undead Sublet" which tells the love story of Tess Maitland and Sam Clemson.
NOVEL 2: A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses
As it turns out, Nana Fee entrusted the Elements to Mr. Wainwright—an American from Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky. This is the same Mr. Wainwright who bequeathed Jane Jameson his occult bookstore back in the original JANE JAMESON series. Unbeknownst to him, Mr. Wainwright left a living legacy behind in Ireland when he left—and that would be Jane's mother. Yes, Mr. Wainwright was Nola's maternal grandfather.
Oddly, the main focus of the story isn't on the romance, which is unusual for this series. The scenes featuring the side conversations among the characters are definitely more entertaining than either the romance or the search for the Elements. All of the usual suspects appear: Jane, Gabriel, Dick Cheney, Andrea, Zeb, Jolene, and even Jane's mother and Zeb's mother. It's like old home week. In fact, the Half-Moon crew blatantly steals the spotlight from Nola and Jeb, who actually don't spend much time together (and don't have much chemistry). All in all, though, if you enjoy reading feather-light paranormal romance with lots of sex and humor but not much violence, this series is definitely for you. Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from this novel on its Amazon.com page—just click on either the cover art or the "Listen" icon.
NOVELLA 2.5: "I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas"
Gladiola Grace Scanlon (aka Gigi) is the sister of Iris Scanlon, heroine of The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires. Ever since Iris became a vampire a year ago, she has avoided any contact with Gig because of her fear that she might physically attack her sister (due to the fact that young vamps cannot always control their blood lust during highly emotional moments). Now, it's Christmas vacation, and Gigi is home from college for the holidays.
The Christmas story lines and the break-up are resolved in this novella, but the subplots dealing with Gigi's new job, Ophelia's jealousy, and Gigi's stalker won't be resolved until the end of The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire. If you are a fan of this series, might want to read this novella simply as an introduction to the next novel, but you need to be aware that much of the expositional material from the novella has been lifted and reprinted—word-for-word—in the novel. Basically, the only scenes that aren't repeated in the novel are the Christmas-related scenes, which are filled with Harper's usual mix of sardonic dialogue and crazy antics. Click HERE to read an excerpt.
NOVEL 3: The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire
This novel continues the love story of Gladiola Grace Scanlon (aka Gigi) and Nikolai (aka Nik) Dragomirov, the blond, golden-eyed, 600-year-old vampire who was briefly introduced in the novella, "I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas."
As the story begins, Gigi is on her first day at her summer internship with the Vampire Council (the World Council for the Equal Treatment of the Undead), where she will work every day from 2:00 pm through 2:00 am with three other programmers to construct a vampire genealogy database. Gigi's sister and brother-in-law, Iris and Cal, are still opposed to her taking this job because of the dangers involved in working with vampires and because Gigi's boss is the lethal, emotionally unstable Ophelia Lambert. Ophelia is insanely jealous of Gigi because she suspects that Gigi is trying to take Jamie, her bloodmate, away from her. Jamie and Gigi have shared a long-time, completely platonic friendship, but Ophelia views Gigi as a romance-wrecker who is out to ruin her love life. Gigi describes Ophelia as "a four-hundred-plus-year-old vampire who looked like a teenager and schemed like a Bond villain."
There is one bothersome continuity issue that involves the refrigerator situation in the Council office. Early one, Gigi when describes the perks of her office, she points out that she shares a room with the three other members of her team and that "Each of our desks was flanked by a mini-fridge prestocked with sodas and juices we'd listed on our post interview preference lists." (p. 13) But in future scenes, there is just one refrigerator for all of the offices on that floor of the Council building: "I even kept a bottle of soy sauce with my name on it in our office's non-blood mini-fridge." (You won't understand the significance of that statement until you read the book.) This wouldn't ordinarily be worth mentioning, but the refrigerator situation becomes important to the plot resolution, so Harper and her editors should have spotted that discrepancy and corrected it.
On top of post-turning transition issues, like being ignored at PTA meetings and other mothers rejecting her son’s invitations for sleepovers, Libby must deal with her father-in-law’s attempts to declare her an unfit mother, her growing feelings for Wade—a tattooed redneck single dad she met while hiding in a closet at Back-to-School Night—and the return of her sire, who hasn’t stopped thinking about brave, snarky Libby since he turned her. With the help of her new vampire circle, Libby negotiates this unfamiliar quagmire of legal troubles, parental duties, and relationships.
The rest of the story follows Libby through her adjustment to vampire life, which runs fairly smoothly until she accidentally outs herself to some PTA members at her son's school. After that, many of the townsfolk, including her in-laws, shun her and treat her horribly: Her father-in-law immediately files for sole custody of Libby's son; the PTA president publicly rejects her brownies at a bake sale; an elderly school volunteer tells Danny that his mother is a monster; only one of Danny's classmates attends his birthday party; and a mysterious stalker poses a physical threat to Libby.
Early in the book, Libby has a meet-cute encounter with a tall, blond, and handsome single father named Wade. At first, they have that stereotypical I-hate-you-but-I-want-you reaction to one another, but when their sons become best friends, they decide to try to get along. Soon enough, they are getting along just fine, if you know what I mean. Wade is a tattooed, motorcycle-riding bad boy who runs his own custom motorcycle business, and he turns out to be a caring, intelligent, supportive boyfriend for Libby with no qualms about her vampire condition. Just as their relationship is getting off the ground, who should turn up but Finn Palmeroy, her mysterious sire—a tall, dark, and handsome vampire who wants to start a romantic relationship with Libby. Jane and Dick warn Libby that Finn is not to be trusted, but at first Libby is highly attracted to smooth-talking Finn. Eventually though, she catches him in some lies, and that puts a damper on their relationship.
The three major conflicts in the book (other than the romantic ones) involve the identity of Libby's father, whom Libby has never met; the court battle between Libby and her in-laws; and Libby's vampire stalker.
This is a typical book for this series, with a feisty heroine, a virile hero, and plenty of snarky dialogue and silly slapstick situations. Although the plots are always light as a feather, I do enjoy reading this series for its crazy antics and sarcastic give and take. If you've been reading the series regularly, you'll recognize all of the supporting characters—or as Harper calls them, "my League of Adorable Weirdos"—and fall right back into the wild and crazy world of the Hollow.
Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from The Single Undead Moms Club on its Amazon.com page—just click on either the cover art or the "Listen" icon.
NOVELLA 4.5: "Fangs for the Memories"
Join Half-Moon Hollow’s favorite couple for a trip down memory lane—to a time when Mr. Wainwright was newly dead, Jane Jameson was a newbie vampire, and a budding paranormal romance was not yet uncorked.
This novella actually belongs in Harper's NICE GIRLS SERIES, where it fits in during the time period of Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men. In the HALF-MOON HOLLOW SERIES, it appears as a flashback. As the story opens, Jane's boss, Mr. Wainwright, has just died and left his bookstore to Jane. Dick Cheney—the criminal, not the vice president—is Jane's shady friend who makes a living doing underhanded back-room deals with his equally shady cohorts. Dick is grieving deeply because of his blood relationship with the kindly bookstore owner.
Andrea came to Half-Moon Hollow along with some of her vampire clients and has become one of Jane's best friends. Andrea has been making her living as a blood surrogate, "providing live feedings for vampires who didn't want bottled blood but couldn't risk biting a random stranger." She and Dick are attracted to one another, but Andrea is still recovering from a disastrous affair with a vampire that left her bitter and determined never again to trust her heart to a smooth-talking man—human or vampire.
When Andrea has a horrific experience with a new client and nearly dies from blood loss, Dick takes care of her and wreaks revenge on the vampire who allowed the situation to happen. If you've read any of the HOLLOW-related books that Harper has written since 2009, you know that the two have been an HEA couple ever since.
This story feels quite repetitious because the highlights of this romance have been referenced in so many of the previous books, both in this series and in NICE GIRLS, although some of the specific facts are new. If you are dying to learn every last down-and-dirty detail about the Andrea-Dick romance, you'll enjoy the story, but—fair warning—this is a very short novella—only 86 pages (with a Kindle-estimated reading time of about one hour).
Click HERE to listen to an excerpt from "Fangs for the Memories" on its Amazon.com page—just click on the "Audible Narration" icon.
FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of "Fangs for the Memories" is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through Netgalley. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this review are strictly my own.