just a girl (with fangs)

La Vida Vampire by Nancy Haddock

I am not a particular fan of vampire novels, but every little bookshop I browsed through during my trip to St. Augustine had copies of Nancy Haddock’s series, so I was curious enough to download a copy to my nook. La Vida Vampire is the first in the Oldest City Vampire series, paranormal romance/mysteries set in Old St. Augustine. Overall, the novel combines the feel of a Sookie Stackhouse novel with the fluffiness of a cozy.

The series follows the misadventures of recently unearthed, 200-something year old vampire, Francesca “Cesca” Marinelli as she tries to find her place in modern St. Augustine by working as a tour guide for Old City Ghost Tours. In Cesca’s world, vampires are part of everyday society, but are registered and tracked via a GPS device implanted in their arms. Other paranormal creatures abound, including warlocks, ghosts, and shapeshifters, but vampires steal the scene in this installment.

A reluctant vampire at best, Cesca blends in well, living with her human sponsor and making friends with other members of the ghost tour company, but a visit from a member of the local, anti-vampire Covenant and a couple of strange French tourists rattles her quiet afterlife. Murder, misleading evidence, and a sexy detective soon bring Cesca’s world on its head.

This is a quick, beachy kind of read. It’s fluff with a side of local history, and made for a fun way to remember my mini-break in St. Augustine. Haddock does a good job of tying loose ends, while also setting up the premise for the next installment in the series, so it can be read as a standalone without the cliff-hangery feeling you get with some paranormal romance series.

Truly, Madly

This review is based on an ARC copy. I got my copy through Barnes & Noble’s First Look Book Club. This book will be released in February 2010.

Heather Webber’s Truly, Madly is a fast-paced, fun read with a dash of mystery and suspense thrown in for good measure.

Lucy Valentine, daughter of world-renowned matchmaker Oscar Valentine, is a little skeptical when it comes to love and matchmaking, but when her father gets caught in a compromising and career-threatening position, Lucy is left to run Valentine, Inc. and maintain the companies near perfect record for matches. Nevermind that Lucy lost the famous (and secret) power that has made the Valentines successful matchmakers for countless generations, independent Lucy has a job to do and a lot to prove.

But Lucy soon finds that there is more to matchmaking than finding complementary auras. When client Michael Lafferty tells Lucy the story of a long-lost first love, Lucy finds herself tangled in a mystery that she never expected.

Hiring Sean Donahue,  PI, to find  Michael’s old girlfriend, Lucy feels an instant electric connection that challenges everything she’s ever thought about love and attraction.

What is a reluctant matchmaker to do when she knows she’s cursed to never find her own perfect match?

When I first heard about Truly, Madly on the First Look Book Club, I thought it sounded like a fun read and it certainly was. I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, but the book was very readable and I didn’t want to put it down! The blurb on the back of the book promises that there will be at least two other books in the series (there is a preview of the next book, Deeply, Desperately) and I will definitely be looking for them in future.

The characters were charismatic and believable (yes, even with the psychic powers), and the plot was engaging and well-developed.

I recommend this book for anyone interested in a fun romantic mystery. I think fans of Meg Cabot’s series will probably enjoy it as well.

For more information on the Lucy Valentine series, visit Heather Webber’s site