Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dead Over Heels (anthology, book) by MaryJanice Davidson

The three stories in this anthology each involve different types of paranormal characters that readers who've read Davidson's various paranormal series will recognise. Overall, this is a humorous paranormal romance anthology involving vampires, werewolves, and mermaids. I'm going to write a separate section for each story, with a read-alike or two for each section.

"Undead and Wed: A Honeymoon Story":

Betsy and Sinclair are now married, and all Betsy wants to do is have an enjoyable honeymoon in New York, having sex with her new husband and shoe shopping. However, her friend Jessica and Jessica's boyfriend Nick unexpectedly tag along. Jessica's excuse for this is that she hopes the experience will make Nick get along with Betsy better - he hates and fears her and Sinclair for messing with his memory after Betsy inadvertently made him her willing slave. Betsy still feels guilty about what she did to Nick, so she agrees to let him and Jessica stick around.

Unfortunately, the hotel everyone is staying at is staffed mainly by vampires, not something Nick is glad to hear. When someone starts killing children near the hotel, Nick is convinced that one of the vampires at the hotel, maybe even Betsy or Sinclair, is the killer. Sinclair isn't happy with Nick, but he agrees that the killings must stop, so everyone tries to find the killer, only to discover the hotel's dark secret.

Davidson's explanation for Nick and Jessica's presence in this story wasn't terribly convincing, in my opinion. Nick has a perfectly good reason to fear Betsy, Sinclair, and other vampires - I don't see how a little exposure to them while they're on their best behavior is supposed to make him forget what they can do when they want or need to. I also don't see why Jessica had to arrange for this during Betsy's honeymoon - you'd think there'd be other times when she could trick everyone into being together, maybe during a vacation later on. Davidson tries to make it seem as though the events of this story might have initiated some sort of change in Nick's feelings for Betsy, maybe made him hate and fear her less, but I've already read the most recent book in the series, and he's so venomous towards her that this story might as well not have happened.

Read-alikes:
  • Interview with the Vampire (book) by Anne Rice - Louis tells the account of his transformation into a vampire by the charismatic vampire Lestat. The two seek out others of their kind and eventually turn a young girl into a vampire. I wouldn't normally list this as a read-alike for anything Davidson has ever written - they may both have written about vampires, but Rice's writing style is very different from Davidson's, much more philosophical. However, when I tried to think of another story with a messed up child vampire in it, this book came immediately to mind. So, those who particularly found the idea of a child vampire interesting might want to try this book.
  • Dead Until Dark (book) by Charlaine Harris - This is the first book in Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series. Sookie is a telepathic barmaid. Most of the people in her small Southern town know about her special abilities, but most people can also forget about it a bit because Sookie makes an effort to either not read people or not show that she's read someone. It's an exhausting life, however. Before the beginning of this book, vampires revealed their existence to the world, and in this book Sookie discovers something she thinks is wonderful - it's very hard, if not impossible, for her to read the thoughts of most vampires. Soon, Sookie is dating a vampire, but, unfortunately, being around him gets her involved in more danger than she's ever experienced before. Those who'd like something else with vampires and a similar tone might like this book and series.

"Survivors":

Con is the star of a survival show. The latest episode of his show is supposed to be about survival techniques out in the ocean, but the boat he's on ends up getting separated from the filming crew and all the food. Although he's supposed to be a survival expert, he's not doing too well on his own until he's approached by silver mermaid who offers to help him. She does her best to feed him, keep him hydrated, and tow him to land. While they're on land, she changes her tail into a pair of legs and continues to keep him fed. The two of them soon have sex, and it isn't long before Con starts wondering if he really wants to be rescued. Once he's found, he'll have to go back to doing his show, and mermaids can't be far from water for long.

I might get made fun of for saying this, but I actually enjoyed this story. Con came across as a bit of a likable idiot - I mean, come on, a survival expert who refuses to do things he knows will save his life and doesn't make sure to be properly equipped for ocean survival? The mermaid, Reanesta, pretty much stole the show, and I'm so glad that Davidson alternated chapters written from Con's point of view with chapters written from Reanesta's point of view.

Because of her coloring (which she calls a noncolor), Reanesta is convinced that she's ugly, so she's sure that Con wouldn't find her attractive or want to sleep with her. Those who find "woman who thinks she's ugly finds guy who thinks she's hot" stories to be appealing will probably enjoy that aspect of this story. I particularly found Reanesta's non-humanness appealing. Since she hadn't ever interacted with humans before, she didn't really grasp why Con would be uncomfortable with her biting the heads off fish, and she had no problems with nudity. She also didn't have a great grasp of humor - at one point, she teases Con by calling him her pet, because she has to care for him and he's helpless without her. She doesn't mean what she's saying, but he doesn't know that (actually, I wasn't even sure she was kidding, at first).

Read-alikes:
  • Diary of a Radical Mermaid (book) by Deborah Smith - The story focuses on Juna Lee, a spoiled (but not malicious) mer-woman, and Molly Revere, a children's author who doesn't know she has mermaid ancestry. The two fall in love with a couple mer-men and deal with an oil company's plot to ruin the ocean as we know it. Those who'd like another light-hearted story with merfolk, romance, and humor might like this book. Also, this is actually book 2 of Smith's Waterlilies series, which began with Alice at Heart (the tone of the first book is very different from this one).
"Speed Dating, Werewolf Style: Or, Ow, I Think You Broke the Bone":

Cain is a competitive werewolf who's just realized that she's almost the last of her friends from childhood not to be married. She determined to fix that, but she's only got 22 days. She enlists the help of her best friend Saul, who's her only remaining single friend and who doesn't seem to mind that status. Saul sets up a speed dating event for her, but none of the werewolves he's found for her are suitable. When she goes on a blind date with a werewolf who's heard she's looking for a mate, she almost gets raped and is saved by Saul. The experience scares Cain a bit, but it scares Saul, too, and he starts making it even harder for her to find a mate. The truth is, Saul has never married because he's loved Cain for years, even if she's never noticed.

If I hadn't known who this story was by, I might not have figured out that Saul loved Cain and was sabotaging her attempts at finding a mate as quickly as I did. As it was, I figured it out almost immediately, which made Cain seem like an even bigger and blinder idiot. Overall, though, I enjoyed this story. I'm a big fan of "the guy who's right for her is right under her nose" stories.

Read-alikes:
  • One for the Money (book) by Janet Evanovich - In the first book in Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, Stephanie, a resident of Trenton, NJ who's desperately in need of money, gets a job as a bounty hunter for her cousin Vinnie - never mind that she doesn't know the first thing about being a bounty hunter and doesn't even own a gun. Her first assignment is to bring in Morelli, a cop who's been accused of murder and the guy who charmed her out of her virginity when she was 16. Those who'd like another story with quirky, sometimes goofy humor and a bit of romance (Stephanie has at least two guys who are interested in her, if only she could decide between them) might like this book and series. Sorry, no werewolves.

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