Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires by Molly Harper

Iris Scanlon, Half-Moon Hollow’s only daytime vampire concierge, knows more about the undead than she’d like. Running all their daylight errands—from letting in the plumber to picking up some chilled O neg—gives her a look at the not-so-glamorous side of vampire life. Her rules are strict; relationships with vamps are strictly business, not friendship—and certainly not anything else. But then she finds her newest client, Cal, poisoned on his kitchen floor, and only Iris can help.

Cal - who would be devastatingly sexy, if Iris allowed herself to think that way - offers Iris a hefty fee for hiding him at her place until he figures out who wants him permanently dead. Even though he’s imperious, unfriendly and doesn't seem to understand the difference between "employee" and "servant," Iris agrees, and finds herself breaking more and more of her own rules to help him - particularly those concerning nudity.

Turns out what her quiet little life needed was some intrigue & romance—in the form of her very own stray vampire.

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After thoroughly enjoying the Jane Jameson series, I was looking forward to diving into this spin-off series to keep reading about Half-Moon Hollow and its quirky inhabitants. Overall I was not disappointed with this first entry in the series as it continued the tone and slightly irreverent humor of the first series quite admirably. Iris wasn't necessarily who I would have thought of to be the first heroine of the series, but she worked quite well, and Cal was, well, quite yummy.

Iris was introduced in the Jane Jameson books, but we never got to know her beyond the efficient and resourceful wedding planner that helped keep Jane from going totally batty over her wedding details and all the problems that surrounded it. We quickly learn that she's certainly very organized and able to think well on her feet to respond to a crisis, but she's also a tad bit neurotic about some things. The latter turns out to be one of her more endearing traits really. She's fiercely loyal and rather maniacally protective of her younger sister whom she's been raising since their parents died several years before. She's so determined to be a good "parent" to Gigi that she ends up going a bit overboard at times, yet one can hardly fault her for it. Mostly she comes off as a big ball of highly organized crazy that is highly entertaining to read about.

Cal is a bit harder to get a fix on at first, since he seems rather autocratic and more than a bit arrogant at first. It isn't long before we start to see other sides of him though and he soon enough becomes someone that few women would kick out of bed. I liked that even at his most autocratic, he's rarely condescending toward Iris and respects who she is and what she's accomplished. Alpha-male to the core, he still manages to treat her more or less like an equal and acknowledges when her skills or expertise in a given area exceed his.

I enjoyed the interplay between the two of them and the mystery they found themselves in the middle of. While many things about it were rather predictable, Harper still managed to throw in a few surprises here and there to keep things interesting. The final reveal of whodunit was...not necessarily one of them. A bit surprising at first, you quickly realize that it wasn't hard to see it coming once you stop to think about it. What is a bit surprising is what doesn't happen at the end, and the fact that it doesn't is part of what makes this book remarkable in the final accounting.

For fans of the Jane Jameson series, or just of Molly Harper's writing, I definitely recommend this book (and series). While you don't necessarily have to have read the Jane series to understand this one, you'll certainly get more out of it if you have since you'll have a more detailed knowledge of the backstory and of some of the characters involved.

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