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REVIEW: Lord of the Vampires by Gena Showalter

Dear Ms. Showalter,

You’re one of those authors I feel I should love. Your story ideas are creative and inventive. You’re prolific – one of my favorite traits in an author. Your online personality is sweet and easygoing.  And yet for some reason, your books and I never seem to quite connect. Every time you start a new series, I buy the first book, hoping that this will be the one that converts me into a raving fan. It’s why I picked up Lord of the Vampires. Sadly, this book was not quite the one.

Lord of the Vampires	Gena ShowalterThe set-up is intriguing. Jane Parker is a scientist who is recovering from a terrible car accident several months ago. The car accident killed her mother and nearly crippled Jane, and she has had a long, lonely road to recovery. As she recovers, she dreams of a mysterious, sexy vampire who is being held captive. One day, Jane receives a strange book in the mail. The book talks about a mysterious, sexy vampire who is being held captive by an evil princess.  Jane is shocked by the parallel to her dreams, but even more shocking – her own name is in the book and the vampire is demanding that she go to him. She dreams about making love to the vampire that night, and the next morning she awakens to find herself in the kingdom mentioned by the book, wearing the face of the evil princess. Under the guise of the evil princess, she meets the vampire, Nicolai. He has been kept as a sex slave by the evil (and ugly) Odette, and he can see Jane’s true face under the glamor she wears.  Nicolai is a captive and his memories have been stripped from him. He knows that Jane is not Odette and that she has come to save him. They escape from the castle together and run off into the forest, where a series of mishaps befall them as they immediately fall into love with each other.

I found the world in this tale fairly murky. It feels like the storyline is a mash-up of Alice in Wonderland and fairy tales. The two evil, ugly princesses are the daughters of the Queen of Hearts in the kingdom of Delfina. Jane’s appearance in the new world could easily harken back to Alice, though I didn’t see anyone or anything I could point to as the White Rabbit. From there, however, the story seems to be a mishmash of fantasy tropes (evil ogres, witches) with the occasional paranormal element. Nicolai is a vampire. I have no idea why he is a vampire or if anyone else is a vampire. Was he turned? I could have missed it, but I am confused why he is a vampire and none of his other siblings is. Moreover, the story is entitled ‘Lord of the Vampires’, but Nicolai was the only vampire in the story. He is a prince of the fantasy kingdom of Elden, but as far as I could tell, it was not inhabited by vampires. I found the world very confusing and had to constantly re-read certain sections to make sure I was following along. Even now, I still feel like I’m missing big chunks of the story.

Jane was a problematic character for me. She’s sympathetic and strong-willed, but I had trouble with the concept that she’s supposed to be a brilliant scientist who graduated early from high school, finished college in a blink, then worked for years at a top secret branch of the government doing experiments on quantum theories and on mysterious, otherworldly creatures, which has a bigger role later in the story. My problem was that Jane did not act like a scientist or think like one.  She is also a very, very rich, very young scientist.

She didn’t need to work because one, she’d made so much money through her research, she could never spend it all; and two, she’d made so much money in the car accident settlement she could never spend it all.

That struck me as…odd. Does science pay that much? If she loves her job so much, why isn’t she attempting to go back to her job? How would she have such high government clearance at such a young age? These are questions I kept asking myself and did not come to a satisfactory answer. For the record, at the start of the story, Jane is 27 and had been in recovery from her car accident for almost a year, so she would have ‘retired’ from her beloved career somewhere around the age of 26.

Nicolai as the hero was very sexy and charming, however. I do find that you do the obsessive, devoted hero very well. He was adoring of Jane and extremely protective, and I find that is always a joy to read about. Their banter was sometimes very charming, and while Nicolai was the big, possessive alpha male, I still had the impression that Jane was running the show. I like that in a story. The sex between them was not as explicit as your other series, perhaps, but that might have to do with the Nocturne line more than anything else. I still felt the chemistry between them was sufficiently spark-worthy. There was instant lust and love between the two characters, but given the rest of the setting, I let this slide. Insta-lust does not really bother me in a paranormal, since I feel there are a lot of elements in these stories that require the suspension of disbelief.

I have to say that I hated the ending. It was too perfect. As Jane has said in the past, this was definitely a Care Bear ending. Not for me.

Overall, this was a mixed read for me. I liked the concept but found the execution flawed. The hero was sexy but the heroine was hard to believe. You don’t need to read this story to grasp what is going on with the others. There is an overarching story plot about the four siblings, however, I didn’t feel that it was more than window dressing.  And while this did not work for me as well as I’d hoped, I’ll still be there to buy the first book of your next series.

All best,

January

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January Janes

January likes a little bit of everything. She's partial to unique paranormals, erotic romances, contemporary, and YA. She has a fondness for novellas and trying self-published works, though more of those are misses than hits. She still refuses to read anything that smells like literary fiction. January also changes this bio on a regular basis depending on her reading mood.

19 Comments

  1. DS
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 14:32:37

    “[S]he’d made so much money in the car accident settlement she could never spend it all.”

    What hit her? A truck full of gold bars? And she settled in several months? There is a fairy tale there, but I don’t think it involves the vampire.

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  2. RebeLovesBooks
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 15:21:38

    I love Gena Showalter, but this was not her best book. Maybe it’s weak b/c she’s starting a series that will be continued by others?

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  3. John
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 15:47:07

    I’m with you on Gena. I think for me it’s the fact that the first book sets up her writing badly. I was just “meh” with her YA Intertwined, but for some reason Unraveled was epic and much more to my liking. I think part of it is that her set-up is usually hard to swallow the first time around, but after the initial book it’s easier to accept it as a reader and just enjoy the story.

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  4. Chelsea B.
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 15:50:33

    Everytime I’m in a store I keep picking this book up and putting it back down. The reviews are so mixed and I, myself, just can’t decide! I will probably read it, eventually, because I’ve read a lot of her books and enjoyed most of them. And I’m looking forward to rading the others in the series and I don’t wanna be confused! That the hero was a good hero is a good sign– I find I need to like the hero way more then I need to like the heroine, anyway. Anyway, thanks for the honest review!

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  5. Vanessa Jaye
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 15:52:07

    I love fairy-tailesque romances, so I might still grab this one from the library, but I really posted to lol@ DS’s truck full of gold bars. And agree that a settlement that had that type of payout and did not take years to conclude is a bit of a stretch.

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  6. Kristyn
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 21:00:26

    I felt the same way about this book. There were a lot of parts that I really liked, but I still finished the book feeling a little… let down, I guess.

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  7. Cathy Pegau
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 21:15:56

    My scientist husband had the same question about her financial situation. Especially if she is a government scientist. They get paid squat.

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  8. eggs
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 00:23:29

    And not only do scientists get paid squat, but employment contracts for scientists usually allocate the IP to their employer, so even if they invent Marty McFly’s flying hoverboard, the profits go to the company that employs the scientist, not the scientist themselves. Scientists who are actual Nobel Prize winners probably bring in a couple hundred grand a year, the rest of them, not so much. I would not be able to read this book.

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  9. Eve Langlais
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 06:45:28

    I have this one sitting on my tablet but am leery of reading it because of the mixed reviews. I love her Lords series. Her men are so over the top alpha, and yet, I’m worried this will be like her Atlantis one, kind of weak. I console myself with the fact she can’t be as bad as some other stuff I read in the last month and DNF.

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  10. Luna
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 12:29:16

    I read a few GS books because so many people suggested I try them after loving Kresley Cole’s IAD series. However, I also found they fell flat for me. The stories would sound interesting, but I never connected with any of her world building and I blame that on her writing. She has some great ideas, but can’t seem to sustain them through extended story telling.

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  11. Susan Laura
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 12:48:04

    The first paragraph of your review mirrors my reaction to GS EXACTLY! For whatever reason her stories have never hit the mark for me but I know many people who like her books a lot. To each her own, I guess!

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  12. P. Kirby
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 13:31:48

    “Does science pay that much?”

    As a rule, no. Unless they hold the patents to some kind of cash cow, scientists aren’t usually all that wealthy. Tenured professors do okay, and by “okay,” I mean a lot better than my lower middle class self, but not fabulously, independently wealthy.

    “I had trouble with the concept that she’s supposed to be a brilliant scientist who graduated early from high school, finished college in a blink…”

    Meh. This alone would be a turn off for me. It reads like a feeble excuse to keep the heroine “under thirty.” Rather like a beta reader told the author, “Twenty seven is too young to be that accomplished,” and this–”She’s a genius!”–was the fix.

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  13. mbot565
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 15:03:05

    This is my first Gena Showalter book. It’s a chore trying to finish it precisely because the world was so muddled. I had to read and backread serveral paragraphs more than once just to figure out what’s going on (not a good sign). The reason I pick this up is because I know Nalini Singh is going to write the last book, thinking I better have some idea of the overarching story before reading the last book of the series. Well, I ended up confused as ever.

    The Nicolai & Jane dynamics were okay, would’ve been more than that if I wasn’t so frustrated with everything else. Jane being a retired scientist at 26 was the least of it.

    I just hope the next book from the next author is better.

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  14. DA_January
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 19:41:17

    @mbot565 I enjoy certain books in her series and other books I’m not a very big fan of. Have you tried her Lords of the Underworld? That one seems to have the most fans.

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  15. DA_January
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 19:44:34

    @P. Kirby I feel a slight bit guilty that I harped on it in my review, but it really did make the entire character ring falsely for me. Moreover, she didn’t read like a genius prodigy. I felt it was window dressing at best.

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  16. DA_January
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 19:45:15

    @Susan Laura Absolutely. I hold out hope that I am going to find that book by her that has the perfect intersection of plot, character, and story.

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  17. DA_January
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 19:46:04

    @Luna I agree – I did feel the story felt very ‘surface’ in a sense. The pieces were there but there was no emotional connection.

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  18. DA_January
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 19:47:53

    @Eve Langlais For me it ranked slightly lower than LotU but above the Atlantis series, which I did not care for at all. Does that help?

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  19. DA_January
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 19:48:46

    @eggs That was my suspicion. Thank you for confirming. It did make me struggle with the character, who should have been sympathetic and easy to like.

    ReplyReply

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