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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dancing with the Devil

***½ Dancing with the Devil by Keri Arthur. Contemporary fantasy.

Back when I really enjoyed Laurell K. Hamilton's books, several people highly recommended this one as a read-alike. It took me a while to track it down, but it's been sitting in my TBR pile ever since.

Psychic private investigator Nikki James has been hired to find a missing teenage girl. She finds her, but she also finds herself in the middle of someone else's hunt: vampire Michael Kelly is hunting the evil vampire that the teenager's in thrall to.

It's a great conflict: that vampire had killed his brother, and Michael intends to stop him at any cost, even if it costs the teenager her life--she'd made her choice, and she's probably too far gone, anyway.

Nikki has lost one person to the monsters, however, and she's not about to lose another, even if it makes the fight harder.

Because of her psychic powers, Nikki isn't as susceptible to vampires, and between that and her strength and goodness, Michael finds her irresistible.

I absolutely loved the first half of the book. Then it kind of fizzled. Michael, rather than being an equal partner, became more ineffectual, with Nikki as his savior. I don't like the alpha-male-saving-the-helpless-female plots, but I don't like the reverse, either. He wasn't a wimp, but he didn't hold his own, either. And then there was the ending...

This book is a perfect illustration of what I mean when I say that I don't require romance in my books (which really should be obvious), but that if there is a romance, I expect it to make sense. The ending (I'm not going to get into details, but I'm not going to sidestep the issue, either--I think the warning is more important than completely avoiding spoilers here) feels artificial and abrupt, as if it were designed either to thumb its nose at romance readers, or to entice readers to pick up the next book. If it was the latter, it failed--with this reader, at least. It's not the lack of a happy ending. I've loved plenty of books without HEA endings. And it's not that the ending was a surprise--I love surprise endings. It's that the book made a promise, and waited until the very end to reverse direction. Those good surprise endings--you're surprised, but it makes sense, and if you look back, you can see the hints in that direction even if you didn't notice them at the time. That wasn't the case here.

So, instead of discovering a new series I expected I'd love, I got pissed off, and I won't be looking for more.


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That is a bummer. I have finally discovered Sherrilyn Kenyons Dark Hunter series. Have you read those? I really like them. I don't think they would piss you off. The women are very strong in her books.
LOL! Yeah, I've read several of the Dark Hunter books, and I like them. I really need to figure out which ones I still have in my TBR pile, so I'll know which ones I have to buy still.
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