Raven Madison is not your typical teenage girl, not even by the standards of a goth girl stuck attending high school in Dullsville. For one thing, Raven's boyfriend, Alexander Sterling, happens to be a vampire --- a handsome and mysterious vampire who is a gifted artist to boot. Raven wants nothing more than to be made a vampire by Alexander, but quiet, reserved Alexander is resisting her appeals to be turned. He prefers to leave his girlfriend a mortal. Indeed, he wishes fervently that he can live a normal teenage life with her --- a life that involves such mundane things as high school and homework, and a life in which his time with her isn't limited to the darkest hours of night. His firm resistance to turning her is putting a serious damper on her plans to become one of the undead, but she is convinced that she can eventually persuade him to her way of thinking, and then they will be together forever.
Since the time that Alexander's parents returned to their native Romania, Raven has been spending nearly all her waking hours at the Mansion on Benson Hill --- Alexander's beautiful and spooky home replete with arched doorways and ceilings, rusty doors, ghoulish things, and a wine cellar equipped with centuries-old bottles of human blood. Luckily, Alexander's butler, Jameson (aka Creepy Man) tends to the Mansion and to Alexander's needs, so that Alexander can focus his time and energies on making art and on building his relationship with Raven.
One night, as Raven and Alexander steal a few moments together in their cellar love nest, a knock at the door brings a visitor --- another handsome and alluring vampire about Alexander's age. Bedecked in blond dreadlocks, tattoos and earrings, he manages to draw Raven's immediate attention. The new vampire is Sebastian, Alexander's childhood friend from Romania, who is in Dullsville for a surprise visit. Going by the size and number of pieces of luggage Sebastian has brought with him, he is intending to camp out at the Mansion for a while, a plan to which Alexander raises no objection. Sebastian settles in quickly, albeit not without a few well-aimed zingers about Alexander's strange aversion to modern amenities and luxuries.
Raven finds herself torn by Sebastian's visit. On the one hand, she finally has a chance to learn a little about Alexander's life before they met, and who better to fill her in on all the details than his childhood friend? But she is also jealous that Sebastian and Alexander get to hang out together all night, doing whatever it is vampires do, while she has to go home to catch up on sleep and other boring mortal matters.
Raven's curiosity about Sebastian turns to alarm when she finds him falling for her best friend, Becky Miller. Becky and Raven had been friends since third grade, and Becky has come through for Raven time and time again, especially since they are outsiders together at their school. Raven is convinced that the last thing Becky will want is to be turned into a vampire herself, especially since Becky is so obviously in love with her good-guy boyfriend Matt. But as Sebastian's powerful attraction to Becky threatens to cast a spell on Becky and draw her into his sphere, it begins to look like Becky might in fact become a vampire before Raven herself. Now Raven has to keep Sebastian away from Becky by any means she has available to her, while also planning and co-hosting a major party at the Mansion, promoting Alexander's gift for art and keeping nosy reporters from discovering Alexander's secret. It's a good thing our plucky heroine is up for the challenge!
LOVE BITES, the seventh installment in Ellen Schreiber's popular Vampire Kisses series, is a mild-mannered vampire fantasy novel, focusing more on the intense and romantic relationship between Alexander and Raven, with little in the way of sex or violence. Since the vampires in the story do nothing more gruesome than discreetly lick a drop or two of blood from a loved one's wound, they appear not to be particularly different from human boyfriends, albeit ones in possession of supernatural good looks. Similarly, Alexander and Raven spend much of their time pining for each other; the physical relationship depicted between them is limited to kisses and cuddles. This makes LOVE BITES very appropriate for young teens and those who are looking for a supernatural fantasy focused more on teen romance and less on gore. The book, told from Raven's point of view, has a casual, chatty and confessional tone to it, although there is not much here in the way of plot tension or complexity.
Fans of the series will enjoy spending time with their favorite characters, especially with Raven and her boyfriend, and getting to know Sebastian and, through him, more about Alexander's past.
--- Reviewed by Usha