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From Publishers Weekly
Those looking to take a brief taster's tour through five sexually charged paranormal worlds may enjoy the stories and novellas served up in this anthology, but readers with an appetite for something a little more meaty likely won't be sated. Although Hamilton's name dominates the cover, her contribution is a meager 30 pages, which amounts to little more than a teaser for her next Anita Blake novel. Harris's offering is similarly slim and static, though it shows off the cleverness of Sookie Stackhouse, the psychic heroine of her Southern Vampire series (Dead to the World, etc.). By far, the collection's best offerings are Knight's "Galahad" and Taylor's "Blood Lust." In the former, a fledgling Majae (i.e., witch) teams up with the famed knight Sir Galahad, who's really a benevolent vampire, to destroy a nest of deadly cultist vampires. And in the latter, Taylor imagines a much more traditional world, wherein vampires can't touch anything sacrosanct and are organized hierarchically, a system the protagonists, a junior vampiress and a microbiologist-turned-vampire, are about to dismantle. The action moves swiftly in both stories, as does the romance, but like the other entries in this anthology, they lack depth and development. Nevertheless, this is a suitable introduction to the various worlds these authors have popularized. (Jan.)
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Angela Knight, who writes erotic romances for Red Sage Publishing, has written a cute story set in Arthurian times, with interesting relationships between witches and vampires. Another romance, "Galahad" has a right male vampire and right female witch team, at odds with each other, defeat the bad vampires and unite in spite of mischevious witches and dragons. Cute, fast reading, and lots of graphic sex.
MaryJanice Davidson"s "Biting in Plain Sight" stars a vampire vetrinarian who lives in a small town with a don't ask, don't tell policy. After the death of her long-time human companion, she falls into a relationship with Liam, another mortal who has loved her from a distance for a number of years. She seeks out assistance in stoppping a rogue vampire and Liam goes along with her. We also get another opportunity to see the Vampire Majesties, Betsy Taylor and Eric Sinclair, who first came to our attention in Davidson's 2002 novel Undead and Unwed. This novella is a worth addition to Davidson's vampire writings.
Charlaine Harris gives us another visit with Sookie Stackhouse in "One Word Answer." First brought to us in "Dead Until Dark" and staring in the Southern Vampire Mysteries series, Sookie has the mystery of a dead vampire cousin's death to explain. With snappy dialogue and a few puns, the story moves quickly, and ends well. A well written story.
Finally, Laurell K. Hamilton's "The Girl Who Was Infatuated with Death" is from an earlier period in the Anita Blake series. This strong story, which helps bridge the period between Blue Moon and Obsidian Butterfly, helps us understand the fascination that Anita has for Jean Claude, her vampire lover. The story is about a girl with a fatal illness who wants to become a vampire rather than suffer amputation, and the mother who doesn't want this to happen. Mother hires Anita to find the daughter and stop the process. What the story helps us see is the growing moral ambivalence that Anita has over having a vampire lover, and serves as a good lead to Obsidian Butterfly. A marvelous story, well developed, too short.
Over all, this is an excellent collection of stories, worth every spare reading moment.
I loved the stories of Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris the most. With Hamilton, it was like going back to the time when the Anita Blake novels were still riveting. This story took place before the ardeur and metaphysical contacts began to monopolize the plot and before Micah and other expendable characters came along. The story, albeit short, was a real treat. And Harris's Sookie Stackhouse story is my favorite one in the book. It tells the reader in various levels that Bill is now just a trusted and reliable friend of Sookie's. There is still some tension there though. After all, he still cares for Sookie and tries to protect her at all cost. MaryJanice Davidson's novella is told in third person and it centers on two new characters, but it was fun to read about Betsy Taylor and friends from other characters' points of view. I am not a big follower of Angela Knight, and Vickie Taylor is unknown to me, but their stories were entertaining. The last three stories center more on romance than anything else. As a whole, Bite is an excellent anthology. Read this if you're a fan of any of the big authors in this offering.
Overall this collection was disappointing to me. Although the Laurell Hamilton story "The Girl Who Was Infatuated With Death" was OK it wasn't particularly deep (yes, I know it's a short story and so has limited space). It is set in the interval between Blue Moon and Obsidian Butterfly but fortunately hasn't descended, at that point, into the soft porn that the Anita Blake novels have turned into. The story itself is fairly simple and its resolution is really a chance to enable the main characters Anita Blake and Jean-Claude the Master Vampire to meet again. It was a perfectly acceptable story but nothing to get really excited about.
The Charlaine Harris story "One Word Answer" is set at the end of the third or fourth Sookie Stackhouse novel where Sookie and Vampire Bill are just friends rather than lovers. It features a strange night visit to Sookie's house of an unknown vampire who comes bringing news of a legacy left to Sookie by a cousin who, it turns out, was a vampire and was staked the previous month. There's more going on than the story suggests and, for once, Sookie realises this before Bill Compton or Bubba, her two neighbourly vampires. This is a fun little story but doesn't add much overall to this series.
The third story, "Biting in Plain Sight" by MaryJanice Davidson was really good and worked pretty well as a standalone story. I don't know if this author has written anything else on this theme, but if so this would inspire me to read it. Her main character is a vampire vet - all the people who live in her village know she's a vampire but it's not talked about. When she hears of trouble she finds one of the fellow villagers wants to help her and this is the start of an investigation into a rogue vampire who is causing young mortals to commit suicide. Sophie and her new assistant Liam, the friendly but slightly dim-seeming farmer, ride to the rescue and find each other in the process. It was a well-written book and I enjoyed it very much.
On the other hand, Galahad by Angela Knight was a real disappointment. I expect it's part of a wider series as there was an awful lot of stuff thrown at me that I didn't have a full explanation for. But the basic story seemed to be something upon which to hang a steamy sex scene and it didn't work for me at all. The world/environment was very complex, the magic these people wielded seemed far too convenient to help them save the day, and the sex scene didn't feel sexy. A disappointment. And not actually all that Vampiric - Galahad was a vampire but that was a very minor part of the book; it was mostly about witchcraft.
"Blood Lust" by Vickie Taylor was a better story. It's about a man who has invented synthetic blood, only to have a vampire steal his work and his fiancée. Daniel researches vampires, then plans to be made into one so he can gain revenge and rescue his fiancée by killing her (obviously she wouldn't want to be a vampire really). To do this he finds Deadre, the lonely female vampire, at a club and tries to persuade her to turn him into a vampire. Of course he doesn't really know what he's letting himself in for, particularly the requirement for regular blood as a new-born vampire, and things aren't really what they seem. This was a good story although the denouement happened rather easily, as in all of these stories.
Having read the book, it is obviously something than fans of these authors might want to complete their collection, and the stories are OK in their own right, but none of them are really fantastic and the short story formula doesn't quite seem to provide enough depth to make these truly satisfying stories.
"One Word Answer" by Charlaine Harris. Telepath Sookie Stackhouse of Bon Temps Louisiana is visited by Mr. Cataliades and Waldo the vampire to inform Sookie that her cousin, a vampire who was staked, left her estate to her cousin. Mr. Cataliades informs Sookie that Waldo killed her because she was the favorite of the queen of New Orleans and he wants Sookie to stake the vampire Sookie doesn't want to but Waldo makes sure that he will not be returned to his queen to be tortured.
"Biting in Plain Sight" by Mary Janice Davidson: In the town of Embarrass, everyone knows that the vet Dr. Sophie Tourneau is a vampire but they ignore that fact because she takes great care of their animals. Liam is in love with her and when she goes out hunting a serial vampire killer, he insists on accompanying her. He tells her how he feels and she takes him to bed and drinks his blood. She cares about him but she's not sure if she is better off without any emotional ties to a mortal. When they go after the vampire killer, Liam impresses Sophie with his actions and his commitment to her.
"Galahad" by Angela Knight. Caroline was turned by a vampire into a witch with magical powers and immortality. She lives in Avalon in the mageverse where vampires and witches form a symbiotic relationship. Witches need their blood drained every few days to lower their blood pressure and vampires have a willing blood source. Caroline has a vision about humans drinking from a cup and turning into vampires who are the antithesis of the undead in the mageverse. Galahad, pure of heart and a vampire is assigned by Morgana Le Fey to work with Caroline to find the threecups and destroy the evil vampires. Along the way fall in love but Galahad fears Caroline won't want him once she learns all the ugly things he had to do to defeat the bad guys.
"Blood lust" by Vickie Taylor. Garth funded Daniel Hart's research into making synthetic blood but stole the formula, Daniel's girlfriend and his house before revealing himself as a vampire. Daniel asks vampire Deadre Blue to turn him a vampire so he can kill Garth, his girlfriend who is now a vampire and then himself. Deadre doesn't want to do it but when he is accidentally killed, she feeds him her blood and he turns into a vampire. Deadre has fallen in love with Daniel and goes with him to fight Garth the enforcer to the High Matron. The synthetic blood make Daniel Garth's equal and their upcoming battle will leave one of them dead.
All five authors have a different take on the vampire mythos but that doesn't mean one story is better than another. This is one of the best vampire romance anthologies ever produced bringing back cult favorites like Anita Blake and Sookie. The stories by the other authors would make a great series..
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