RogerBW's Blog

The Vampire Next Door, Natalie Vivien and Bridget Essex 26 September 2022

2015 paranormal romance. Courtney owns a failing antiquarian bookshop, and has a joyless relationship with Mia. Then the gorgeous vampire walks in looking for a rare book…

This is an extremely straightforward book. Vampires "came out" a few years ago, and they're born that way rather than infectious; they can live on animal blood, and they don't seem to have much in the way of powers, but they have been forced to get serial-number tattoos. And there are hate groups that just don't want those kind of folks round here (or anywhere). So yeah, obvious symbolism is obvious, but sometimes some fluff is what I'm in the mood for.

Courtney, one must admit, is something of a doormat; the one bit of spine she shows is that she won't act on her love-at-first-sight for Valeria until she's properly broken up with Mia. (Several times over, apparently. Alas, since we see the relationship only at the point of disintegration, it's hard to get any idea of what Courtney saw in Mia in the first place, though there's some effort at justification.) Valeria, or Lare, is elegant and sexy and one has very little idea of her feelings at all.

What does get a little uncomfortable for me is a background point: Lare's working on a way of making entirely synthetic blood that will still be nutritious to vampires. When this happens, apparently, there will be no more reason for prejudice against them. But I don't get it: how is keeping synthetic blood different from keeping an animal-blood bag in the fridge? It's still a sort of food that "normal people" don't eat, and vampires still won't be able to eat normal-people food. I mean, sure, you're not injuring or killing animals any more, but presumably the rest of the world hasn't turned vegetarian while nobody was looking. So… vampires have to alter their nature to fit into society rather than being accepted for who they are? It's not of a piece with the rest of the book.

Altogether very slight, but surprisingly enjoyable.

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