For Love or Country

How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire

Vamps and the City

 
Be Still My Vampire Heart
by Kerrelyn Sparks
(Avon, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-06-111844-9
***
A committed vampire slayer and a centuries-old vampire? They tried that, in Buffy almost a decade ago, and it didnít work. Now here comes Kerrilyn Sparks rushing in where Angel refused to go! The results arenít too bad Ė if youíre willing to overlook several glaring contradictions and quite a bit of silliness.

As a child, Emma Wallace lost her parents to vampires. Since then she has been waging a hidden crusade against the blood-sucking beasts (I never did get why she kept all her best efforts a secret. The woman has acknowledged psychic ability, which she uses in her career at some kind of C.I.A.-like undercover organization. Surely they would have room for a hell-bent lean, mean vampire-killing machine!)

One night, as Emma stalks the dark corners of New Yorkís Central Park with her hand-engraved stakes, she spots a kilted Scotsman. Sheís so busy wondering what he may (or may not) have under his timeless tartan outfit that she forgets her self-imposed mission. Now, Iím not one to scoff at the power of instant passion, but Emmaís lack of concentration didnít exactly sell me on her warrior skills. To her credit, she quickly comes back to her senses and realizes what she is up against.

Angus MacKay, thatís what. He runs a vampire-manned security and bodyguard company. He and his mates are good vampires: they drink synthetic blood (frequently spiced with whisky to produce a drink known as Blissky) and protect humans from the bad kind, the Malcontents. One or two of the good Vamps have even married humans and are happily awaiting the arrival of the first mixed-species baby.

Angus has heard about a slayer reaping havoc in the vampire world and is in the park to warn her about all the risks and dangers involved. He too has instant thoughts about Emmaís underwear, but doesnít allow that to sidetrack him too long, at least not for the moment. He admires Emma, but also wants to protect her. This would be sweet and touching, if it werenít so patronizing of a woman who is supposed to be some kind of professional soldier.

This isnít what bothers Emma, though. Itís the vampire part she canít get her head around, although she very quickly allows her body to. One thing leads to another and she soon forgets her vow. She also forgets (again and again) to behave as a sensible and intelligent undercover agent and, despite repeated warnings, heads straight for what turns out to be an evil vampire trap. Emma and Angus have to sacrifice a lot to get out of it, but at least she finally gets to display some worthy heroine material.

Scattered in between their numerous encounters and skirmishes are follow-up stories about villains and hero(ines) who featured in the other books in the series and a generous serving of puns (some good, some deploringly bad; I havenít read any of Sparks earlier efforts, so I have no idea how they compare). Some minor characters also eat up the pages. These include two male-hungry New York females (the human, not the vampire kind). I am embarrassed to say that these caricatural singles made me laugh, but I canít, for the life of me, figure out what they were doing in the story. Then again, they certainly set the tone: Be Still My Vampire Heart is quite obviously for those who prefer their vampires to be more tongue in cheek than tooth in throat and heart in mouth.

----Mary Benn


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