Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dragons and Vampires

Last Dragon Standing
G.A. Aiken
Zebra, Sep 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420108880

Two years have passed since Princess Keita, Dragon Queen Rhiannon’s daughter, has seen family members. Instead the royal has been doing her thing though none know what she is after.

The Queen orders Ragnar the Cunning to lead a group of soldiers in order to find and escort home her beloved son Eibhear and to catch her allegedly seditious sister Esyld, who is believed to have committed treason. Ragnar and his team run across a fleeing Keita who barely escapes execution. They are attracted to one another although he wants to dump her on her mother as he hates her seductive simpering that has his dragon warriors (and him though he denies it) thinking with the wrong head. At the same time the kingdom is in peril from treachery within while the human Queen Annwyl the Bloody fears for the lives of her twin children.

The latest fiery dragon romantic fantasy (see Dragon Actually and About a Dragon) is a superb jocular yet very dark thriller. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as she is driving the hero insane with his lust for her. Readers will relish this soaring entry as Ragnar wonders how he will survive his current assignment while Keita wonders how she will escape with her heart intact. Harriet Klausner

Born To Bite
Lynsay Sands
Avon, Aug 31 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061474323

Vampire Armand Argeneau is stunned when his lifemate and two other women close to him all died mysteriously accidental. The Council sends undercover Enforcer Eshe d’Aureus to investigate the farmer as the brass wonders if Armand is a spousal serial killer. His brother Lucien enables Eshe to get onto Armand’s farm as he tells his sibling that she is hiding from Leonius Livius the second who wants her dead.

As she investigates her host, she and Armand are shocked to realize they are life mates. Neither is pleased with this revelation as she fears she loves a psychopathic murderer and he fears the three women he cherished were murdered by an unknown adversary who probably will make his fourth female he holds dearly the next target. When the incidents begin, Eshe wants to believe a third party is causing them, but she still has niggling doubts about her beloved as all evidence seems to point to him yet everyone who knows him including his in-laws think the world of him.

The latest Argeneau urban fantasy (see Bite Me if You Can, Love Bites and A Quick Bite) is a terrific atypical entry in which the story line is more of a super investigative thriller rather than the vampire romance though the latter is a key secondary subplot. The story line is fast-paced and contains amusing interludes especially when Eshe drives Lucien crazy. Series fans will relish this wonderful tale while newcomers will also appreciate the vampiric whodunit. Harriet Klausner

Wuthering Bites
Sarah Gray
Kensington, Sep 1 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780758254085

Mr. Earnshaw finds the Gypsy orphan Heathcliff and brings him home. His daughter Catherine has mixed emotions over the newcomer in the household. On the one hand she is fascinated with Heathcliff and glad her father is so kind; but on the other hand she is shallow and upset with her father for losing her present when he stopped to talk with the lad.

Catherine and Heathcliff grow up together as close friends. However, Catherine knows their relationship must end as they are unrelated and she behaves with the prim and proper deportment expected of an unmarried young woman at the turn of the century. Heathcliff is also pulling away as he begins to understand his split warring desires as a half-breed paternal vampire and maternal vampire slayer. She turns to proper affluent Edgar Linton as more appropriate for her then her childhood friend.

This is an entertaining retelling of the Bronte classic turning the cause of the mental torment of Heathcliff into a schizoid paranormal tendency as his heritage is at war inside his head. Converting Heathcliff into a half vampire and half slayer comes across as plausible while Catherine remains true to the original. However, the story line lacks the amusing biting irony that these parodies need to avoid the question why not just read the original; although Wuthering Bites is a fine reenactment. Harriet Klausner

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