There is a popular, perhaps even overused, trope in Paranormal Romance that involves a vast group of immortals, all tied together by blood, duty, or both, somehow finding their cosmically destined life mates all-but simultaneously.
No matter how long they’ve all been stalking this Earth, no matter for how many eons they have all sought out their fated lovers, it takes only one of their number to get hitched and suddenly they’re hooking up left and right, within the space of a few short years—all, quite coincidentally, occurring pretty much now. From the Black Dagger Brotherhood to the Carpathians, and so very beyond, it is a sequence of phenomenal coincidence that we must inevitably accept as plausible if we are to enter into the assorted exploits of almost any bloodsucker clan.
Rarely is this cliché more abused, and yet more delightfully employed, than in the case of Lynsay Sands’s Argeneau Vampires.
Now, before I go any further in recounting the manifold delights of this ever-engaging series, I first have to explain the one element that has made me an eternal adherent of all things Argeneau. Sure, there’s the screwball comedy-esque romance, the clever moments of wit, and I’m sure some readers glory in Sands’s expertly salacious sex scenes, but for me it is easy to pinpoint what first won my heart about this series, and continues to be my most favorite part: its vampire origin story.
Some mythologies have vampires as demons, or soulless predators, or a separate branch of the evolutionary tree. Some postulate vampires were created by a malevolent deity, or through magic, and yet others suggest that vampirism is a medical condition. But no one, anywhere else, has ever put forth the admittedly unlikely possibility that vampires were created due to scientifically advanced nanobots from long-lost Atlantis.
I’ll say that again. Nanobots. From. Atlantis.
Isn’t that just the best explanation for these sexy nightwalkers ever? And one, moreover, that lends Sands’s vamps a good deal of humanity. Oh, they still can’t go out in daylight and many of the usual methods will kill them. They have special powers, like mind-control and telepathy, and they’re super-strong and fast. But not only can they eat regular food but also, since they are essentially alive, their hearts actually beat. They need sleep just like the rest of us. They can bear children like the rest of us. And aside from the rogue vampires who do things the old-fashioned way, they mostly consume their required sustenance from convenient take-out bags. (Uh. Like the rest of us?)
So that is our species of vampire. And amongst their ranks exists the stately Argeneau clan, a group of singularly attractive individuals largely based in Toronto, Canada, whom we first encountered in 2003 when the first to-be-published (though not first in reading order) novel, Single White Vampire, was given unto us, to no little acclaim. Including the May 31 release of The Reluctant Vampire, there are now fifteen novels in this series by the very prolific Sands, and despite the occasional misfire—personally, I am less enamored of the three books in the spin-off Rogue Hunter series that form part of the whole number, but maybe that’s just me—for the most part they are immensely entertaining; tender, passionate, charming, intriguing, and amusing love stories to a one.
The series reading order (and this is how I approached it) kicks off with A Quick Bite, in which we meet Lissiana Argeneau, a centuries-old lonely heart with an aversion to, of all things, blood. Psychiatrist Greg Hewitt is brought in to help, there’s humor and sex and mystery and suspense (and more sex… maybe a little light bondage), and from there it’s pretty much essential that you read more of the family’s antics, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll be desperate to know how their own true love tales will turn out. (Especially Thomas. Love that Thomas.)
This is the series that keeps on giving; it’s funny, it’s romantic, it’s RED HOT (if you’re into that kind of thing) and it even throws out the occasional gripping mystery that will keep you guessing till the very end. Our author not being one to eschew a puntastic title, we see entries like Bite Me if You Can, Hungry for You and Born to Bite, as sundry scions of this large and, it seems, congenitally unmarried family find their destined unlife’s companions—often among the ranks of humans, although Sands certainly has no aversion to a little vamp-on-vamp action, and it is those tales that are perhaps her most touching.
It’s a multi-generational affair, too; Lissiana’s mother, the elegant Marguerite, gets her own book (Vampire, Interrupted, my favorite), as do her immeasurably ancient uncles. When you’re a vampire, great age is no barrier to romance; indeed, the reverse is often true. Isn’t a big part of a vampire hero’s appeal often that he’s been there, witnessed that and killed ’em all, and yet it is only now, after millennia of enduring eternity alone, that he has at last found his one?
That is another trope that Sands treats with here shamelessly, and she does it very, very well.
But even if she didn’t, I would probably still read these books. Even if they weren’t written in light, sparkling prose and weren’t compulsively readable. Even if our cast of characters wasn’t eminently appealing and comprised of beautiful people to cheer for. Even if the dialog wasn’t sharp and the love scenes intense…come on! Nanobots from Atlantis!
That is pure, unalloyed genius. Mad genius, true, but genius nonetheless.
Rachel Hyland is the Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.