Lords and ladies, welcome to the first ever episode of Sugar and Spice!
Here are the rules: every two weeks, I will read one book. On the second Friday, there will be a Sugar and Spice episode all about the book. The good stuff – the sugar – will go first, while the bad stuff – the spice – follows. I’ll give a rating at the end of one to ten gumdrops. Please note: I will *not* give away spoilers, even with a warning. Only bad reviewers do that.
For all of you authors out there – if you want me to review your book, email me! I’m DahnyaOch at gmail. I will review fiction and non-fiction of any genre. Please note: Sugar and Spice is not for the faint of heart! I am BRUTALLY honest in my reviews and you all need to put your big-kid pants on if you want me to actually review something.
Now that we’ve got that all out of the way…
Take it Like a Vamp
So, my first ever review is for the newest release written by Fast Draft instructor Candace Havens. It’s about 174 pages long and the cover is phenomenal. It’s available on Amazon (non-affiliated link) as well as many other retailers.
Casey, the main female character, is adorable. She’s got enough of a modern kick (as can be seen by the opening line “It’s sad when your best friend makes your panties melt” – a very modern saying) to be interesting but she isn’t rocking the testosterone. She lives with her Once-Uncle-Now-Aunt Teddie, a delightful transgender character, which there aren’t enough of. Then there’s Nick, the hot businessman who also happens to be Casey’s best friend, and who happens to own the building that Aunt Teddie and Casey live in.
Casey has a bit of a problem. She wants to date Nick, but he’s obviously into skinny chicks, which Casey is not one of.
Nick has a problem as well. He’s a vampire, the head of the supernatural council, and he has to get married or they’re going to kick him out.
The villain is Alvinia, whom I cannot think of as anyone other than Alvin from the Chipmunks (thanks Casey). Alvinia is one bad-ass woman who doesn’t take no for an answer, especially when she’s very powerful and had a horde of demons at her back.
Now that you know who the characters are…
TAKE IT LIKE A VAMP was a fun, quick read. The character’s voices were distinct and fun, and kept me entertained. I actually read this in a little over 12 hours, and I worked for 10 of those. It is a sweet romance with a bite (pun intended) of hot. There is enough paranormal to keep things shaken up, but the world building takes second place to the romance.
In spite of what the following sounds like, I did enjoy TAKE IT LIKE A VAMP and would gladly read it six or seven more times. Which is a total possibility.
Casey reminds me of Bella Swan.
Oh, god, that feels so good to finally say. Casey spends the entire first half of the book being needy and thinking that she’s uglier than Betty, even when men blatantly hit on her. She’s only dated losers and so her self confidence is zilch. Linc, Nick’s best friend, even outright tells her that if Nick wouldn’t kill him, he’d tap that.
So why does she spend so much time bitching about her curves? Ugh.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved Casey. It’s just that it took her way too long to figure out that the two hot guys that were coming on to her were actually coming onto her, not just doing it to be nice. Which, what guy EVER hit on a woman to be nice? Really.
While I’m on the subject of Casey: I felt like she had no real motivations. She wants to date Nick. I guess there’s something at the very beginning about her wanting to lose weight, but we never get farther than that. A scene where she and Nick go out jogging would have been a little more showing.
And speaking of showing… there is one scene where Casey has to make a big decision – huge! And what happens? We get the “I’ll BRB” and the “Okay, I’m back. I’m cool with this” with nothing in the middle. Part of the modern female character is showing when she makes these tough choices. I would have loved to see how she rationalized this!
Okay. Moving on to Nick before you guys think I’m lying about loving Casey. (I really do, by the way. Her voice is just so much fun!)
If Casey is Bella, Nick is Edward. He’s got as much dimension as a tiger. Eat – sleep – screw. Only he doesn’t really need that sleep part. Instead he just hovers over
Bella Casey and watches her sleep.
Nick’s whole motivation is to get hitched before the supernatural council kicks him out. It irks me a tiny bit when a character’s only motivation is to get in a relationship. And here we have two of them. Granted, Casey just wants a little hot body loving, but Nick’s single-minded quest for marriage was a little boring.
He would also make a steaming BDSM character – just saying. Remember how I compared him to a tiger? When Linc hits on Casey, Nick nearly tears the guy’s throat out. It would be sweet, if we didn’t keep hearing him think “Mine” every ten pages.
Now that I’ve brought up Linc… all of the secondary characters had about as much personality as a tissue. I loved Aunt Teddie and I’ve got to give props to Candace for using a transgender character in a vanilla romance novel. It’s amazing and so very modern. But it also feels like a gimmick. You get to see Teddie like twice the whole book. Linc shows up the most often, but Casey’s coworker/best female friend shows up twice… and I can’t even remember her name. A strong supporting cast makes everything the better.
Oh, one more character gripe. Alvinia is a badass woman with no motivation other than to be evil. Snore. She’s crazy – Nick even says she spent time in an institution – and so she’s obviously got nothing more to do than chase Casey around, torment her, and try to kill her. At least she didn’t have henchmen. Well, do a horde of demons and witches count as henchmen? The jury is still out on that one.
My last gripe of the day is the sex. I loved that this was a sweet romance. But Casey is nearly begging for sex every ten minutes, and Nick obviously likes it… so why do they only get it on in two very chaste and almost boring love scenes? The first one has every opportunity to be hot (, I mean, the setting itself is just amazing) but it comes up very flat. Meanwhile, the second was just flat even though it was supposed to be fast and hot.
I might be annoyed by this since the last romance novel I read was by Roni Loren, but c’mon. If you’re not going to fade to black, don’t hand-hold your reader. Sex scenes can be sweet without being two paragraphs long and about as descriptive as a grocery list. Insert flap A into slot B with no foreplay (oh, wait, I remember something about a nipple) is not exciting.
I know I complained a lot. I told you I’d be brutally honest. But, I’d also like to say: I give TAKE IT LIKE A VAMP
I love sweet romances, fun characters, and a sprinkling of paranormal – which is exactly what this book gives. It is an amazingly fun read and kept me interested the whole time (okay, minus the sex scenes that I kind of skimmed). In the end, I highly recommend this book.