Sunday, April 13, 2008

Title: Bitten & Smitten
Author: Michelle Rowen
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Back Cover

There's a new vamp in town...
Dear Mom,
I might be a wee bit late for Cousin Missy's wedding. It's been a tough week. Turns out, my blind date from hell was literally from hell. Guy bit me. Next thing I know, I'm being chased all over the city by vampire hunters. And did I mention that I got fired, too?
Bright side-I met a man. Thierry de Bennicoeur. How great is that name? Anyway, he's sexy, six-hundred years old, and a tad suicidal, but no one's perfect, right? And we have a deal-he's gonna show me the ropes of the vampire world, and I'm supposed to help him end his existence. Or maybe I'll just try to convince him life is worth living-no small challenge with the mostly immortal, let me tell you. I'll admit it's a complicated relationship. But with any luck, I just might have a date for that wedding after all...
Hugs and Kisses, Sarah

As a single girl, the words "blind date" send shivers down my spine. The "nice, funny" guy you have been set up with, turns out to be a loud jokester who enjoys stories featuring bodily functions. Or perhaps he is the guy, ala Harry Met Sally, who reaches across the table to pluck a hair from your head with which to floss his teeth. In Bitten & Smitten Sarah’s blind date does far worse than that, the evening ends with stakes aimed at her heart and a dive into the local river. Vampirism by blind date. Not a good end to your evening.

After her date is killed by local vampire hunters, Sarah is saved by a suicidal vampire hottie named Thierry. He takes her back to his, condo, and grudgingly helps her out. Sarah does not believe what has happened. I’d like a giant order of denial with my cup of blood, thanks. Sarah leaves with Thierry’s business card in hand, ready to put the night behind her. It is all a dream. Uh huh, keep telling yourself that. Denial runs deep, much like the river, until an unfortunate incident at work ends with Sarah being fired. The clouds finally part, and the sun shines down upon the obvious: blood sucking vamp. Sarah runs to Thierry for help at Midnight Eclipse, a tanning salon on the bad side of town. A tanning salon? Yup, that’s right. It truly is a tanning salon, that also happens to be a front for a local vamp night club. Thank you Forever Knight! If only the host was as fabulous as Jeanette. After meeting with her, Thierry agrees to help Sarah with one condition, once she has adjusted to her new life she must help him end his. Suicidal vampires are not as sexy as you might think.

The book chronicals Sarah’s first week as a vampire. Damn, this girl catches no breaks. After a rocky start, I was drawn into the story. Sarah was a little bit Bridget Jones mixed with Buffy on one of her flakier days. You didn’t always like her or her decisions, but you kept cheering for her. Her best friend is a complete flake, her new vampire cohorts are a ton of fun, Thierry is mysterious, the bad guys are despicable, and her family is wacky. A character is introduced half way through the book to shake things up. You figure out who the traitor is long before Sarah does. It is a fun ride. Yet in the end, I felt that the HEA was completely forced. Not enough development between the H&h. Why? Well...

There has been much discussion lately over a readers POV preference. Third person, first person, first person present tense. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion. For a long time I avoided stories written in first person POV. I just had a difficult time connecting to the characters. The recent Urban Fantasy craze has forced me to open my eyes a bit. How can I denounce first person POV when I love the Mercedes Thompson books so much? When written well, experiencing the story from inside the heroine’s (or hero’s) head can be a wonderfully different perspective. Sadly, it is not always done well. The biggest failure is to focus so much on the heroine, that you lose any sense of connection with the hero (or vice versa.) This is my major complaint regarding Bitten and Smitten. Thierry de Bennicoeur had the potential to be a fascinating hero, but in an attempt to make him mysterious (and through the first person POV) I felt more connected to a secondary would-be hero. I wanted to know more about Thierry. How did he feel about Sarah? I mean, they get their HEA, but it took a leap of faith on the readers part to believe it. You knew Thierry and Sarah were supposed to get together, since they are the H&h of the story, but you almost wanted to rework the ending with Quinn as the hero.

I think if the book was marketed as fantasy or urban fantasy, I would not have a problem with this. Heck, if it was either of those two genres, the author could have left the HEA as a possibility for the future, not a done deal. Since this book is labeled paranormal romance, the author is obligated to give us the HEA. Bitten & Smitten would have work so much better as the first in a series, much in the way of Moon Called and Dead Witch Walking. Why force the HEA when you could allow it to develop more naturally over the course of a few books? Show us how they fall in love. Show us how Sarah continues to adapt to her new life. What about her family? What about her job prospects? Give us more.

Heh. Here I go shooting my mouth off before doing my research. So yeah. Ms. Rowen has written two more books in this series. Perhaps I shall check them out. Here's hoping there is more romance in the following books, since all we got in this one was a few hot smootches. I want The Sex in my romance novels!

Grade: B- rocky start that ended up turning into a fun romp, forced HEA ruined the glow


Sarai said...

I liked this one but I knew that there were more coming. I agree that the romance was rushed however, I have read the others and have to say the romance faces typical problems (if you count being in love with a vampire problem)
I think I liked her earlier work better Angel with an Attitude but for a fun romp this was good. Great review!

Shannon said...

I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for Angel With an Attitude. There was an excerpt from it in the back of B&S. It sounded cute. Good to hear thet you liked it.