Because I'm the Vampire,
That's Why

by Michelle Bardsley
(Signet Eclipse, $6.99, R) ISBN 0-451-21937-6
*****
I have this fear: that the paranormal market is going to become oversaturated (which some say it already is) and then go the way of chick-lit (which according to the same some, is dead). But then I read something as cute and clever as this and remember: it's not so much the story, but the way it's told. And Michelle Bardsley definitely has a way with words.

It starts out simple enough, Jessica is a normal mother of two teen-ish kids: griping at her them for not taking out the trash, then taking out the trash herself and then getting ravaged by a diseased vampire. Okay, not so normal there. But who is she to complain when she wakes up sucking on sexy Patrick's thigh? Of course, there is that pesky matter of why he's been chained to the wall; it seems that in the vampire community, two vamps who become sexually involved are "wedded" for a thousand years. So much for a one night stand.

Patrick's feeling a little guilty right now, since it was his twin brother who attacked the town. In all, Lorcan's turned 11 single parents in the town of Broken Heart. Between turning Broken Heart into a vampire haven and saving his brother from the "Taint," Patrick has to work overtime if he wants to convince Jessica she's his soul mate. Add a jealous ex-"wife," some nasty vamps called the Wraiths and Jessica's dead husband's mistress (also sired by Patrick) to the mix and it's almost more than a man can stand. Good thing he's had 4,000 years experience.

Okay, it's time for me to be hypocrite here. Those of you familiar with my reviews know I usually loathe "fated" romance. It's contrived, it's cheesy and... Bardsley makes it work. Seriously. Patrick is certain that Jessica is "the one" for him, because she wears his ring. The ring itself has been passed down in her family - even though it has never fit any of the female members. The reason? Only Patrick's true soul mate can wear it. Which of course, Jessica can. But, Jessica, not being a bubble-headed heroine, doesn't quite buy that this a good foundation for a thousand year commitment, especially after recently losing her cheating husband. But Patrick's determination and his obvious love for Jessica are what win her over. After all, if you had a brave, sexy guy who doted on you, wouldn't you love him too?

What really pulls this book together is the blending of humor and heart. Bardsley's characters have a quick tongue and well developed backstories. One minute, the reader is laughing their butts off a one liner and the next biting their nails over a character's fate. Bardsley has created not just a great couple, but a world filled with people I want to see happy. Even the most minor of characters leave an impact here, which is a great thing since this is the first in a series. With wit and writing like this, I can't wait for the next one.

--Amanda Waters


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