RogerBW's Blog

Happily Never After, Jeaniene Frost 02 July 2022

2008 urban fantasy novella, side story in the Night Huntress (Cat and Bones) series. Isabella Spaga the restaurateur has caught the eye of a minor-league mobster looking to move up in the world, he insists on marrying her, and her ne'er-do-well brother tells her to go along with it then drops out of contact. But help is on the way.

I don't think I ask an excessive amount of this sort of junk-food urban fantasy. I mean, sure, sexy vampire beats up bad guys, heroine falls in love with him, they boink like rabbits, no problem there. But… I do want a little bit of dramatic tension. Chance, a friend of the vampire Bones who's the lust-object of the main series, lets the mobsters think they've murdered him and disposed of the body, twice, in order to gather information by listening to their bragging to someone they're about to kill, and there's never any sense that he's in danger. (They don't know that there are vampires, never mind what highly specific actions they'd need to take in order to injure him beyond what he can easily regenerate.) The only uncertainty is about where the bad guy is holding Isa's brother.

So on the one hand what actually happens here is decent – Chance turns up and gradually rises in Isa's estimation from stupid macho guy to potential life partner, protecting her from bad guys along the way. That's fine. But the shape of the story would be much better if she got to do something to save herself, if any of Chance's plans didn't go exactly the way he was expecting them to, if there were, well, any surprises. Or indeed if we saw her being good at restauranting, but even that's mentioned only quite briefly.

This was written originally for the Weddings from Hell UF anthology, with three other stories by writers I don't know. I get the impression that the main publishing purpose of these things is to cross-pollinate: the dedicated reader of author A buys it for A's new story, and then gets hooked on the others. (Then a few years later the thing comes out as a stand-alone novella on Kindle.) I have to say that if I'd met this in isolation I probably wouldn't have been hooked.

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Previous in series: Halfway to the Grave | Series: Night Huntress

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