Who killed Michael Vanderhorst’s maker? It’s a darn good question. But when the trail brings Michael to hellishly sunny Phoenix, Arizona, his biggest problem soon becomes a cute little librarian he can’t seem to stay away from. He’s never met a bigger danger magnet! Even her book cart has it out for her. And is that the drug cartel following her around, too? “Dear God, woman! What have you gotten yourself into?” Things go from bad to worse when local vampires won’t play nice. Can this four-hundred-year-old vampire keep his librarian safe and himself out of hot water? Can he bring his maker’s killer to justice? Yesterday, he would’ve said yes. But yesterday, he didn’t have a strange connection with a librarian. Yesterday, people weren’t trying to kill her.
It tickles my fancy when books mess with the traditional conventions of their genre. I find it clever, refreshing, and when done properly, absolutely hysterical.
Which this books does. In spades.
We open with Michael Vanderhorst, a 400 year old vampire with the appearance of a 20 year old. His personality is at odds with his appearance (at least, how society expects 20 year olds of this day and age to act). A situation which is highlighted when we meet Miriam (I’m hesitant to call her a heroine and I’ll explain why in a moment), the 29 year old librarian that somehow, inexplicably, captures Michael’s attention. And cue the trope of dark vampire rescuing damsel in distress. Over, and over, and over.
Which is the point. It’s satirical, making fun of other supernatural romances that do the same thing. I love the ingenious ways Pamfiloff comes up with trying to off Miriam, and the increasingly silly ways Michael has to come up with to successfully rescue her. It’s not your traditional romance in the slightest–after all, Miriam thinks Michael is too young for her–which is what adds to its quirky charm. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it isn’t a romance at all, but rather a mystery poking fun at your stereotypical tropes of the supernatural romance genre. I suspect the romance will build in later books, but if you’re in the mood for a straight romance without the build-up, this isn’t it. You’re going to need to invest time into the series, I suspect, before any romance pans out between Michael and Miriam.
Which brings me to my only real issue with the story: how little Michael and Miriam actually interact. I get that this also makes fun of the trope–that sudden, love-at-first-glance romance you find in other novels of the genre–but I still wanted to see more interaction between them. She’s constantly at the forefront of Michael’s thoughts, and even the title of the book alludes to her being a main player, but she lacked screen-time (er, page-time?) and agency. In fact, I found the chemistry between Michael and Lulu better because they actually talked with one another for more than five minutes at a time. Miriam just felt like a cardboard cutout of a person, which, again, could be a satirical move, but if it was, it wasn’t packed and delivered strongly enough to point to that.
Nevertheless, I snort-giggled my way through this book and I loved how Pamfiloff played with the situations and characters. It was a delightful read and I fully intend to finish out the series! 4 out of 5 stars.