The Vampire Relationship Guide Volume 1 is subtitled Meeting and Mating, but probably should have been labeled UR Doing it Wrong. While the writing is engaging and the world building fascinating, the narrator’s stunning lack of perception drags down the second half of the novella. The ending is further hampered by a bad guy plot so hideous, it’s no wonder it failed. I’ve seen better criminal plots hatched by first graders for a cookie raid.(And the first graders didn’t get caught.)
But let’s start with what works, and why it works. We’re introduced to Josie, a bridal shop worker who has an obsession with meeting and bedding a vampire. She’s offered the chance to attend a party of a well to do vampire named Gregory, and so dressing up fancy, she head out to hook up. Josie and Gregory meet and hit it off well, and as Josie leaves she meets another vampire, and that meeting doesn’t go so well. These introductions work well for me, and I initially loved Josie’s random strange questions or comments. I also liked the little glimpses into the background of this world’s vampires. They have a good mix of familiar tropes as well as some new ideas to help keep the monster fresh and interesting to learn about.
The second vampire Josie met at the party introduces himself the next day as Walker, and then proceeds to act like a jerk over, and over, and over. And yet, “there’s something about him” that Josie can’t help but like. Oy. I had a similar problem with the characters in Amanda Hocking’s Switched, and for the exact same reason. Nothing in the dialogue or the character’s actions hints at physical or emotional attraction, and yet the narrator tells me over and over how very hot the vampire is, and therefore, that overcomes their absolutely boorish behavior. Aaprently female heroines are so lonely that the first guy to look at them is worth jumping, even if the look they’re getting is a scowl of contempt. This kind of “attraction” makes Josie look so desperate for a approval that even when both guys are treating her like crap, she sticks around. Hey, at least it’s attention, right. Bleh, this is not a good quality when combined with her other bad traits.
The story moves to a big conflict for the final chapters, and when the bad guy steps out to reveal his plans, I wanted to weep with baby Jesus. The plan is poorly thought out, and the reasons that the bad guy chose Josie make no sense.
So, this leaves me in a bit of a pickle. Here we have a story with solid writing, many charming moments of wit, and with vampires who are a combination of familiar and new aspects that make the world building intensely interesting. But Josie’s method of world building is asking hick questions that aren’t even appropriate as fifth date material, much less the first. If Josie and I were on a date, I would expect her to say “So...you used to have a dick, huh?” That’s exactly how tacky she is in broaching vampire topics. And while the world Josie lives in is fascinating, once we get to that first set of dates, Josie reveals why she’s still single as she nears her thirties. She’s a goober who likes the taste of her own shoes. She has to, because she keeps opening wide to shove both shoes inside.
The vampires have an interesting background, and this is a world where vampires are out in society, something you don’t see often. It’s a unique enough view that if you can overlook Josie being a hick, the book isn’t bad. But even being a hick myself, I was frequently face palming at how tacky she was. Think of this as a brief road trip with someone you sometimes wish you could sex up, only to wish you could drown her voice out with the radio a few minutes later.
I’m going to give The Vampire Relationship Guide Volume 1: Meeting and Mating 3 stars and recommend it to fans of vampire humor and urban fantasy series like the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries. And being charitable, Josie didn’t rub me the wrong way nearly as badly as Sookie, or as Wendy from Switched. I was able to make it through Josie’s book, while I dropped Switched and Dead Until Dark early on. So call that a tepid endorsement of Josie as being the least cloying of the three.
(reviewed the day of purchase)