Some authors use the same main character for all the books in a series. Other authors use one book’s minor character as the next book’s main character. It’s rare, though, to find a series where the first two books focus on the same character, yet the third book makes main characters out of people who were on the sidelines. Michelle Rowen manages that feat in her newly released book in the Immortality Bites series, Lady & the Vamp, which follows her hits Bitten & Smitten and Fanged & Fabulous.
Rowen’s vampires are brooding, romantic kind who do not need to kill to feed, and most of them live off donated blood, without much need for biting. Their feeding style makes these handsome vampires all the more appealing, especially as we start to enter tick season (ticks, the repulsive blood suckers). In Bitten & Smitten and Fanged & Fabulous, Rowen’s novels focused on new vampire Sarah Dearly, who was torn romantically between former vampire hunter turned vamp Michael Quinn and the mysterious 600+ year old vampire Thierry. When that situation was resolved in the end of Fanged & Fabulous, I wondered what would happen in the series – books that follow happy endings are often dull or create unnecessary strife between the couple for plot development. How many times do we really need to see the same two characters breaking up and getting back together? Now that Quinn is out of that romantic triangle, he is open pickings for being a main character, and for a woman who is ok with dating vampires who carry excess baggage.
In Lady & the Vamp, readers who are not already familiar with the emotionally tormented Quinn are brought up to date efficiently. Rowen fills them in on his history being raised as a vampire hunter, and now a new, reluctant vampire, as well as his relationship availability status. Quinn takes the “reluctant vamp” label to new levels – he’s out of town, so he doesn’t know where the closest vampire bar is located. Since he’s never bitten anyone and wants to keep it that way, he starts to become the first vampire anorexic I’ve ever seen! Fans will also remember Janie Parker as the bodyguard/assassin from Fanged & Fabulous, and the woman who grew up with a crush on Quinn. Rowen switches perspectives between Janie and Quinn, so we are quickly up-to-date on their lives without fans feeling overwhelmed by too many details.
When Janie and Quinn are brought together in Lady & the Vamp, they both search for a mysterious hidden object called the “Eye”, though for different purposes. Legend says that the Eye can be used once every thousand years to fulfill a wish, but there are mysteries in how to find it and how to properly use it. Quinn is wish for return to humanity, desperate to stop being a vampire. Janie, however, is tracking the Eye as a job for her boss, who requires contracts be signed in blood. Real blood, with very few out-clauses. As they search for the Eye, the stories of other characters from the Immortality Bites series are brought up to date, and we meet new characters and new life-and-death challenges. Quinn and Janie are vibrant characters who could’ve easily stolen the spotlight in the earlier books, so it isn’t hard for the reader to quickly become enamored of them, and eager to know what happens next. Even during suspenseful, mysterious segments of the book, Rowen’s humor shines through and some of the tension is eased.
If you loved Bitten & Smitten and Fanged & Fabulous, you will not be disappointed with Lady & the Vamp. Rowen has a great touch with her characters, both the major and minor characters are well-developed, with plenty of personality and quirks. Additionally, the storyline has plenty of twists and turns that squiggle into an unexpected direction. While we know in advance about the romantic ending, the how, why, and when is a surprise, as is uncovering the other relationships along the way. Lady & the Vamp far exceeded my expectations, and I had a very hard time putting it down in order to make dinner!
You’ll definitely want to pick up Lady & the Vamp, it’s a great read for “spring” that is masquerading as winter, and also for the beach when the snow melts! If you like romance, chick lit, paranormals, or a bit of suspense, you should definitely give the Immortality Bites series by Michelle Rowen a try! Grab the great vampire novels Bitten & Smitten and Fanged & Fabulous in addition to the new Lady & the Vamp!