Blow Me Down

A Girl's Guide to Vampires

Improper English

Light My Fire

Noble Intentions

The Last of the Red-Hot Vampires
by Katie MacAlister
(Signet, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-451-22085-1
Katie MacAlister’s novels are always borderline camp, so if you are looking for a more traditional paranormal romance, this one probably won’t captivate you. If you are a fan of her other works, however, The Last of the Red-Hot Vampires will likely provide a pleasurable afternoon of reading.

Portia Harding is traveling through England with her friend Sarah, who is out to prove to Portia that supernatural places do exist. Portia, who is a physicist, is also a hard-bitten skeptic. Still, when an encounter in a fairy ring brings about events that even Portia can’t explain, she has to revise her thinking.

Portia accidentally calls forth a mysterious woman who hands her the gift of being able to control the weather - then promptly disappears. Portia would laugh this off, except for the unusual weather events that start happening around her, like a rain cloud following her around overhead. Then Theo North appears and grabs her around the neck, demanding to know what she has done with “Hope.”

Theo is a nephilim, or the offspring of an angel and a mortal. Because of his status, he’s an outcast to his paranormal world. In hopes of being reinstated, he needs to help Portia with the trials she’ll have to accomplish as part of receiving the weather-control gift from Hope. He also needs to find out what happened to Hope, or Portia will be charged with murdering her.

Before long, Theo has been turned into a vampire, Portia isn’t doing at all well with her trials, and the heavenly beings that inhabit Theo’s world - known as The Court of the Divine Blood - are just about ready to do away with them both. Along the way, Theo and Portia find they’re very attracted to each other.

This is a fairly sketchy outline of a complex plot. Because the story is told in first person, we hear Portia’s version of the events, and hers is a pretty shrill voice, at least for the first third of the book. If I hadn’t been reading it for a review, I probably would have tossed it aside by page 100. Portia’s insistence that Theo is a kidnapper and there’s no such thing as the paranormal were intensely irritating. For a supposed scientist, she refuses to believe that perhaps there are things she doesn’t understand yet. Good thing this is a novel - if “scientists” approached new discoveries like Portia does, I’d be writing this review with a quill pen by candlelight.

Portia improves somewhat once she starts to accept that her previous ideas might be wrong, but I never really warmed up to her. Like all MacAlister’s heroines, she has a fast mouth, but covering a lack of depth with running quips becomes boring after a while. Theo fared better. He’s a nice guy stuck in a bad situation, and although we aren’t privy to his thoughts, it’s easy to root for him. I couldn’t really see why he was attracted to Portia, though.

The Last of the Red-Hot Vampires ends up being acceptable, though not memorable. If you’re a fan of MacAlister’s works, you may fare better than I did.

--Cathy Sova

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