Author: Tracey Sinclair
EBook – 226 Pages
Source: Author, for purpose of Honest Review
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: The Cassandra Bick Chronicles, book #1
Flames: 3, Moderate sex scenes, adult language
Book Description: All Cassandra Bick wants is to be left to get on with doing her job. But when you’re a Sensitive whose business is running a dating agency for vampires, life is never going to be straightforward – especially when there’s a supernatural war brewing in London, a sexy new bloodsucker in town and your mysterious, homicidal and vampire hating ex-lover chooses this moment to reappear in your life…
Witty, sharp and entertaining, Dark Dates is a heady mix of vampires, witches and werewolves – with the occasional angel thrown in – and introduces Cassandra Bick, a likeable heroine destined to join the ranks of fantasy’s feistiest females.
Now - the review:
The story begins with the statement “you didn’t pick this up because the shop was out of Jane Austen and this looked like the next best thing”. So many times authors work hard to create a background story to convince us of the existence of supernaturals and paranormals. I don’t know if it is also a way to convince us that their stories are valid and worth a read, or just how they feel it needs to be done. We read the genre because of the “mights” we enjoy the possibilities of the different. Perhaps in one hundred years there will be paranormal genre books thought of as classics – but does it matter? We read because we enjoy it, and that is the best reason of all. Refreshingly honest and humorous both provide a unique take and a nice introduction that had me hooked at the start.
As always, I do need to say that I received a PDF copy of the book for the purpose of honest review from the author. I was not compensated for the review, and all conclusions are given freely and honestly, and are my responsibility.
Cassandra is a “Sensitive”, which enables her to sense the existence of others, even those who appear human. In her attempt to make this “gift” work for her, she has started a dating agency for vampires, running speed dating events and mixers, enabling vampires to meet willing humans for love and ‘other things’.
Unfortunately, there is a very ancient and powerful vampire that wishes to return to the old status quo, where vampires were feared, hidden and “took” their food, rather than negotiated and bargained for it. And here I will stop describing the storyline – more would bring spoilers.
There is a solid grounding of humour in this story when Cassandra gets angry or afraid, she sarcastically and humorously uses references from television, movies, other authors and storylines to make her point; which often stuns others into silence. Where Cassandra also believes that vampires are just like humans, she also dispels the image that they are all ‘romantic, sexy, sparkly, beautiful and brilliant beings’; like humans they have their fair share of boring, mundane, and stupid. And that is where the author has done a credible job in sharing her view and vision. This isn’t your ‘run of the mill’ vampire story where all the characters are self-important and instantly attracted to the dark side. In fact, many of the popular references to vampires we all know now, are noted, some skewered, and most put into a new perspective.
The book is written in the first person, done with flair and skill with an occasional nod to the audience. In many ways, you are drawn into the story sooner with her acknowledgement of the differences in this vampire story from all that came before, and that was a refreshing twist. I will note that if you are not a paranormal / vampire fan, that some of the references will not make sense, although a concerted effort seems to have been made to incorporate references from the most popular and widespread stories. Each of the characters are created and explained with details that unfold as the story and action increase, with details shared as they become important to the flow and pacing of the story. The book is set in London and the humor is presented with “Brit flair”, but even if you are not familiar with the slang, it is clearly integrated to avoid confusion.
As I said, I was hooked from first page to last. There were some minor errors with words misspelled, but as I was more drawn into the story, these became inconsequential and did not distract from the pacing. There are a few issues with the flashbacks, they provide a needed background; they don’t always fit in as well to the current action. I understand the ‘humor as a defense mechanism” that Cassandra employs, although occasionally that does feel forced and unrealistic given the life-threatening situations. And there were times when her hormones reacted before her brain was engaged, but not so often as to turn me away from the story.
I can’t wait to see what the next chapter in Cassandra’s life brings, and only hope that it was as satisfactory and enjoyable as the first.