I bought a Kindle back in 2008, when ebook give-aways were a bigger deal and only publishers got to indulge. The very first free book I loaded onto my new Kindle was a novella by a new-to-me author, Marie Treanor.
That story, “Killing Joe,” was short, quirky and sexy. Reviewers squawked at the graphic sex and the shortness of the story. Yes, there was a lot of sex, but it fit the plot and the book was a good length—though longer would have been nice. The hero is a hit-man magically brought into the body of a crash-test dummy, but he’s incredibly sexy and tough, and goes from trying to kill the heroine (I did say quirky, right?) to keeping her safe from her enemies. We get hints at the end of his reformation, which is necessary for romance. But this is even better: he doesn’t turn into a tamed man.
That’s the thing I like about many of Treanor’s heroes. They often start out dangerous, and, true to the satisfying romance trope, love changes them. However, they’re not changed to the extent that they’re transformed into uncomplicated beta-muffins. The happily-ever-after endings work even when the heroes—or heroines—retain their edge, which is hard to do when you’re trying to convince the reader this relationship is going to work long-term.
That’s not to say that she always produces the same sort of hero over and over. She has bookish geeks and killers, vampires and vampire hunters. She has fabulous beta nerds but she also has heroes with a dangerous edge or who are even not very attractive. The hero of The Devil and Via, Giancarlo Di Rapoli, comes across as one scary-looking dude, and he’s battling cancer (as well as a satanic cult).
That’s my other favorite Treanor fact: she doesn’t write the same characters or plots or settings over and over (though she does do a lot of Scotland, which makes sense, since that’s her home turf). The worlds she creates are not the usual sort found in Romancelandia. For instance, she’s the only writer I know who made chess sexy (in The Queen’s Gambit).
I know there are other people reading her stuff, but it’s hard to find other fans to jabber with. I tracked down another fan and asked her what she liked about Treanor, and she wrote back right away. “Her books are witty and clever... The sex scenes are always creative, and the heroes and heroines have their flaws, but those flaws just make them more interesting.”
Yeah. What she said.
Treanor’s books usually have at least a touch of the paranormal, although she doesn’t follow the same familiar paths. In fact, the books that didn’t totally resonate with me were the mass-market NAL books. The fun writing was there, the little twists that make characters interesting seemed present, but those books felt less original to me. The vampire world stuck fairly closely to standard tropes. Another matter of personal preference — I like her humor and there was less of it in that series. She’s doing new vampires now — and they’re more the sort of quirky, interesting stories I associate with her body of work.
Her stories are always original and sexy—so why aren’t her books getting more attention?
Her dry British humor and her quirky characters and European settings might keep audiences away, but those are some of the aspects that I love best. There is also the fact that she doesn’t write the same sort of story over and over. That might not work with people who prefer reading authors who produce predictable personalities and plots. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some predictability too, but I know I won’t usually get that with Treanor. Best of all, every relationship is unique, and the love scenes are smokin’ hot.
Maybe that desire to capture readers for a more than a single book is why she’s recently been producing series. She seems to have developed a penchant for vampires. There are the Awakened by Blood series, and the follow-up Blood Hunters books. It’s worth noting that the hero of the third book in the Blood Hunter series was a crazy scuzzy guy in the previous two books. She makes his reform believable.
She does angst and blood well, but if we’re talking vampires, and you like a lighter touch, I’d recommend the Serafina books.
She’s made the crew of Seraphina’s Psychic Investigations, a consistent group through the three books, and they’re the slightly geeky off-beat types she does so well. There’s a vampire that only Seraphina, a not-entirely-honest psychic, can communicate with—telepathically. There are poltergeists and odd spirits, including a ghost that lives in a computer (Seraphina and the Virtual Man). Seraphina and the Leprechaun’s Shoe, the third in the series and just out this week, has skeletal zombies—one is a dog—a disappearing mother, a satanic rock band, and a portal into another realm.
Any time I want a break from easily recognizable paranormal tropes and romantic conventions, I head for Marie Treanor’s books.
Kate Rothwell writes romance using her own name and the pseudonym Summer Devon. She lives in Connecticut with four men (three of whom are her sons). You can out more about her at KateRothwell.com and SummerDevon.com.