Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Michelle Rowen Binge

I have recently been immersed in all things Harry Dresden and it was starting to turn on me. Listening to Butcher's series on audiobook and then catching up with the last two, Turn Coat and Changes, is a lot of The Dresden Files. Harry is one of my all-time favorite characters ever and his world and adventures are always good reading but in Changes, Harry's world is, well, changed. So much so that in the books to come, nothing will be the same again. Butcher really went all out in it and I couldn't finish it. I chickened out. I didn't want to know what happened at the end, not with Ghost Story still six months away. Look, I love my books and fall in and out of  love with characters on a regular basis but my love affair with Harry is different. I still find it hard to believe that I only just discovered this series a few years ago - it feels as if I've been reading them my whole life. Right now though, I needed some space from Harry. Also, I accidentally spoiled the end of Changes for myself when I checked out Ghost Story on and am horrified enough that I don't want to witness whatever happens. Not yet at least.

So. I needed something that would be light but fun and maybe a bit, um, frothy? Nothing too serious, you understand. I turned to Michelle Rowen. A good while back I read Michelle Rowen's Bitten and Smitten and liked Sarah Dearly so much that I collected the rest of that series and then bought The Demon in Me, book one in her Living in Eden series. Sarah and Eden have been calling my name for about a month or so; it was obviously time for me to read them and I have to say, they really hit the spot.

Rowen's Immortality Bites series is a five-parter about a young woman named Sarah Dearly who is turned into a vampire while on a blind date by her blind date. In Bitten and Smitten, Sarah's date bites her, turns her, and then tries to bury her. She manages to get away only to be chased by a group of vampire hunters who want to stake her. Fleeing for her life again, she runs into another vampire named Thierry (pronounced tee-yairy), a master vampire who is utterly depressed and just about to take his own life when Sarah pleads him to help her escape. They get away and Thierry agrees to help Sarah through her transition and teach her what she needs to know to be a vampire before offing himself. Instead, Sarah falls head over heels in love with Thierry and goes to work in his vampire bar while she searches for a cure for vampirism. In the following books, Sarah has her hands full: she gains the reputation of a super badass hunter killer and has to work at keeping that reputation lest the other master vampires believe that she's a wimp and decide to take her out; Thierry keeps trying to flake out on her and all her friends try to convince her to dump him; she befriends a former hunter turned vamp who believes he's in love with her, making Thierry jealous; she gets cursed by a witch and turned into a nightwalker, a vampire that is different from regular vamps (not allergic to sunlight, holy water, etc.) and more dangerous (nosferatuish with serious bloodlust, superstrength, ability to thrall someone, etc); and attracts the attentions and manipulations of the presumed dead leader of the vampire hunters. Lady and the Vamp takes a break from Sarah, picking up a secondary plot following the aforementioned former hunter, Michael Quinn, and a mercenary named Janie Parker.

This series was a lot of fun, reminding me a lot of Lynsay Sands's Argeneau series in its tone. Sarah is a plucky twenty-something who seems to always come out of a situation smelling like a rose. It is rather questionable that she becomes so enamored of Thierry, who is portrayed as a scaredy-cat vampire for most of the series. I figured that there had to be a payoff for Sarah for staying so loyal to him and there is, finally (!), in Tall, Dark & Fangsome, that explains to the reader why Sarah stayed with him the whole time. Michelle Rowen does a good job keeping this series light and humorous; it could very easily have been flat and heavy.

The Demon in Me, isn't as light or humorous as the above series but I liked it just as much. Eden Riley is a regular woman with a bit of psychic ability who gets talked into becoming a consultant for the police. A serial killer is on the loose and they want Eden to visit the site of the latest murder to see if she can "see" anything. Instead, she meets a handsome police detective who thinks she's a fraud and gets attacked by the serial killer himself, who had been hiding in the kitchen closet (believe it or not) and when he dies after trying to take Eden hostage, she inherits his demon. Yes, he was carrying a demon named Darrak that jumps from host to host after they die and now he's in Eden. Darrak claims he's a "good demon," a demon cop if you will; he roamed around Earth, recapturing the demon's who had escaped Hell and were wreaking havoc with the humans. He also drops a bomb on her: his human hosts usually only live for a year once he's part of them. Eden is in for the fight of her life, literally. She's also starting to have feelings for Darrok and that's not good. She wants him out of her but does she really want him gone for good? Is he telling her the truth? He is a demon after all and they lie a lot, right? The Demon in Me is pretty similar in plot to Jenna Black's The Devil You Know but I liked it better and I identified with Eden much more than I did Morgan Kingsley. I've already downloaded Something Wicked onto my nook and can't wait to see how Eden and Darrok handle their problems. I also have this Michelle Rowen book on my shelf to be read someday:

And then there was one.

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