The Reluctant Vampire
HarperCollins, May 31, 2011, $7.99
Has this immortal finally met her match?
Rogue hunter Drina Argenis (from the Spanish side of the Argeneau family) has been many things in her years as an immortal, but bodyguard/babysitter to a teenage vampire is something new. There’s an incentive, however: the other vampsitter, Harper Stoyan, may be Drina’s life mate.
Trouble is, having just lost a life mate, Harper is resigned to being alone. He’s completely unprepared when sexy and unpredictable Drina bursts into his life to reignite his passions. Can Drina, with a little matchmaking help from their teen charge, tempt this reluctant vampire to take a chance?
Or will a dangerous, unseen renegade kill Drina and Harper’s one chance at happiness?
You know what this book kind of feels like? The Parent Trap, but with vampires who have hot sex. And the Hayley Mills/Lindsay Lohan part is played here by newly-turned but oddly-powerful vampire Stephanie, a precocious teenager whom we first met in 2009’s The Immortal Hunter, the second in Lynsay Sands’ Argeneau spinoff Rogue Hunter series.
The heroine of that book was her older sister Dani, now life mate to the enigmatic Decker Argeneau Pimms. Stephanie, meanwhile, was turned against her will by one of those very rogues (rogue vamps, that is; vampires who live to drink from humans and break all the rules of civilized immortal society, some of whom don’t even have fangs) that Rogue Hunters hunt. She is being kept safely ensconced in a country house well outside of Toronto, and has been assigned various members of the Argeneau clan as her bodyguards-cum-jailors.
Sent thither is one Alexandrina Argenis, a millennia-old vampire who has been told that at the house she will find her long-awaited life mate. Margeurite Argeneau, family matriarch and inveterate romantic schemer, has deemed it to be so and she is never wrong about these things (although apparently her mad skillz have only kicked in quite recently, since it is only in the past few years, book-time, that she has been acting as a vampiric Match.com).
Said life mate is the woebegone Harper, a man who recently lost his not-quite-life mate Jenny to a faulty turn. (She was mortal, you see, and Harper was using up his one and only turn-a-human-into-a-vampire card by making her one of them. But, alas.) He doesn’t think he’ll ever love again, and while he is immediately attracted to Drina (of course) and soon gets to know her in the Biblical way (of course), he is totally unaware that she is his and he is hers and they are theirs and they are all together.
Or maybe he’s just not that into her?
She’d heard of reluctant mortal life mates, but this was really one of the record books. Only she could wind up with a reluctant vampire life mate.
Under the tender ministrations of the Machiavellian Stephanie, the two much-older vampires end up on a date. They share backstories as to how they’ve filled in their time throughout the course of the long centuries, and this is definitely my favorite part of the book.
“Well, I was a perfume maker, Amazone, concubine, a duchess, a pirate, a madam, and then a hunter.”
“I have a frozen food business.”
(Well, alright. He’s also been a chef, hotelier and mercenary.)
They end up in Toronto the vampire bar creatively named the Night Club. On the menu is a drink called Sweet Ecstasy.
“It’s a dose of blood from someone who’s taken the drug ecstasy,” Harper murmured. “The impact on immortals is supposed to be pretty powerful. They say it’s like immortal Spanish fly.”
Drina has heard of it, and her friend swears by it.
“She’s always pestering me to try it, and I’ve always kind of wanted to, but I’ve never been with anyone I liked and trusted enough to try it with.” She glanced up and met his gaze, and added, “Until now.”
Unsurprisingly, he orders two Sweet Ecstasies with barely a moment’s hesitation. And…ooh boy. Public fondling! Desperate, aching caresses! And then…despair.
One usually telling sign for a Sands vampire that they are in the presence of their destined immortal beloved is that they cannot read that individual’s mind, be they vamp or human; however, Drina is considerably older than Harper, and so he didn’t realize that it was their life mate status that was blocking his mental mojo. The Sex makes him aware of this, reawakens his sense of guilt over the death of Jenny, and cools his jets considerably.
To which Drina hilariously responds, heatedly:
“If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got two doses of Sweet Ecstasy still coursing through me and don’t intend to suffer any more than necessary. I’m going downstairs to give the doorman the night of his life. It won’t be as satisfying as it would have been with you, but you’re obviously more interested in wallowing in your guilt than me… and beggars can’t be choosers.”
By this stage, I am just loving Drina.
Harper and his lachrymose brooding, less so, but he really comes into his own after a car accident brings them all close to death.
“So you’re ready to accept her as your life mate?”
“Do I have any choice?” he asked dryly. “She just is.”
How neat and tidy it all is in Argeneau land, to have the discovery of such pesky matters as compatibility, attraction and mutual life goals taken out of your hands by some cosmic, unrelenting force. Or, indeed, the nanobots from Atlantis that make them all vampires in the first place. (I never get tired of that part—read more in Mad Genius: Lynsay Sands and her Argeneaus From Atlantis).
“I know when life mates are around, and usually whose is whose… I knew the minute you got here, Dree, because both of your nanos started buzzing.”
So, now that our vampire isn’t quite so reluctant, and yet we’re only half way through the book, there must be more at work here. And indeed there is! The remainder of the story belongs to the hunt for whomever is messing with them all (with a side trip into a skunk attack that is Sands at her anachronistically amusing best). With Stephanie missing, cars tampered with, strangers in the dark and Molotov cocktails flying, who knows what enemies we’re facing? (And, actually, it comes as a pretty decent surprise.)
Another surprise, and a delightfully clever one at that, is the manner in which the dearly departed Jenny is revealed to be not quite what she had seemed. Bravo, Lynsay Sands! It’s rare that an author creates a slightly insane trope that requires serious suspension of disbelief—like her life mate thing—and then subverts it so utterly herself, thereby highlighting its inherent flaw.
In all, another entertaining outing from a consistently amusing, if not infallible, vampire romance author. Long may the Argeneaus from Atlantis continue to find love in all the wackiest of places!
Rachel Hyland is the Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.