REVIEW: Necking by Chris Salvatore
Dear Ms. Salvatore,
I don’t think it’s unfair to say there are a lot of vampire books out there. Sometimes I feel like they should get their own category separate from paranormal books in general. But even so, I think your debut injected some light humor into a subgenre dominated by brooding, testosterone-laden men and butt-kicking, leather-clad women.
Gia Felice is a top publicist for a science fiction and fantasy publishing house. What sets this house apart, however, is that their authors embody the old saying, “Write what you know.” Aliens write alien books. Werewolves write werewolf books. And, of course, vampires write vampire books.
It’s the last group that’s the source of her troubles. Gia’s top client is a bestselling vampire author named Belladonna Nightshade whose long-running series about a vampire family has collected a legion of loyal, devoted fans. Gee, I wonder which real life author served as the inspiration for this character? Against Gia’s better judgment and the advice of her best friend (and werewolf client) Lola, she’s fallen in love with Bella’s manager, Johnny.
Gia’s life is further complicated by Bella. Bella wants her to use her paranormal connections to investigate a vampire named Daniel, who was the one who turned Bella and who Bella believes is responsible for killing the love of her unlife. This is all well and good, except Daniel is dangerous and likes to hunt down and destroy his fellow paranormal brethren for fun. And now he wants Gia because of those very same paranormal contacts that she’s using to track him down.
If I’m to be completely honest, I think this book fell on the side of too much slice of life, not enough cohesive external plot for me. Gia spent a good portion of the book angsting about Johnny and whether or not she should take the leap and become a vampire herself. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I thought Gia’s ultimate choice came about too quick, and that I didn’t completely buy the supposedly undying love between Gia and Johnny. Attraction, yes. Lust, yes. Love? Not completely sold.
That said, I did like the added complication of Johnny’s effect on her blood. I’ve read many vampire books but I don’t think I’ve encountered one where the vampire’s love is so strong that he causes the object of his affection to bleed uncontrollably. That definitely puts a damper on things. I could have done without the exchange about Gia’s period though. It completely fits within the context of a vampire’s bloodlust, but there are some lines I just do not want to cross and that’s one of them.
Some of the best scenes for me were Gia’s time spent in the office and doing her job. Your author bio says that you’ve worked as a publicist and I think that insider knowledge shows through the humor well here. I also liked the minor character of Dr. Laktarnik who, among many other things, is Lola’s elderly physician, a warlock, a dhampir, and a vampire hunter. I think I could have read an entire book about him all on his own.
While the cover copy suggests that the plotline involving Daniel is a major part of the book, I have to disagree. It’s there but it doesn’t provide most of the action. That comes from the relationship between Gia and Johnny. If anything, the Daniel plotline serves more of a large complication and roadblock to Gia’s HEA than anything else. In that sense, I was a little disappointed.
While this was a nice change of pace from the darker urban fantasies I usually read, I think it’s ultimately wasn’t the book for me. I like my books with more externally driven plot and fewer unconnected slice of life scenes. But for readers wanting some lighter fare, this just might be what they’re looking for. C+