Darcy Newhart was drawn into the vampire world against her will four years ago. She has been living among them ever since, but as a modern, independent woman, finds it hard to navigate the chauvinistic, male-dominated vampire society. Using her experience as a journalist, Darcy applies for a job at the Digital Vampire Network, thinking it might finally be her chance to get ahead, but is nearly turned away by the man in charge. Given only one chance to make an impression on him, Darcy comes up with the idea for a vampire reality show to find the Sexiest Man on Earth. The network exec loves her idea and gives her the green light to direct it, but what he doesn't know is that Darcy has a secret twist planned in which some of the male contestants will be human.
Austin Erickson is a vampire hunter and a member of the elite branch of the CIA known as the Stake-Out team. He's been running surveillance on DVN to identify potential vampires, and when he spots Darcy, he falls head-over-heels in lust at first sight. When the Stake-Out team discovers the vampires' plan for a reality show involving humans, Austin is one of the agents tasked with going undercover on the show. Discovering that Darcy is the director sends Austin's pulse-rate into overdrive, and he couldn't be happier to find out that she seems to be every bit as attracted to him as he is to her. Austin has convinced himself that Darcy is a human woman being held against her will by the vampires, but is she really? When he finds out the truth, it will challenge everything Austin thinks he knows about vampires.
Vamps and the City was another great installment in the Love at Stake series. It was a really fun read that was essentially a paranormal spoof of The Bachelorette, except in this case, rather than having only one bachelorette, there are five, the cast-off harem of Roman Dragenesti from the first book. I'm normally not a big fan of reality TV and have never actually watched The Bachelor/Bachelorette. I wasn't quite sure how I would like the premise when I started the book, but it didn't take long for me to really get into it. The story was pretty amusing and light-hearted with several LOL moments, and yet, Kerrelyn Sparks still managed to infuse the narrative with plenty of emotion and even some angst. Overall, it was a very enjoyable read.
I couldn't help but feel for Darcy in her situation. She has been living among the vampires for four years, but is having trouble being accepted as an intelligent and capable person in the chauvinistic, male-dominated vampire world. Her nervousness about applying for the job at the TV station made her sympathetic. It can be hard for an author to make a drop-dead gorgeous woman who doesn't seem to have any outer flaws vulnerable, but I think Ms. Sparks did a beautiful job of it with Darcy's character. I really liked that her first inclination when asked about her dream man was to describe his personality. Since I tend to pay more attention to a man's personality too, I could relate. It was really cute that she fell as head over heels at first sight for Austin as he did for her. She thinks that Austin's handsome co-worker is just OK, but is super attracted to Austin, even though her friends thought he was just meh. I've often had a tendency to go for guys that other women don't, so this was another way in which Darcy was relatable to me. I also think it showed that Darcy wasn't a shallow woman. Then there is her angst and turmoil over how she came to be a part of the vampire world, and how she can ever make a life with Austin with all that baggage. Everything came together to make Darcy a very likable and admirable heroine.
Austin was an equally likable hero. He does, of course, lie to Darcy about his identity at first, because he was working undercover for the Stake-Out team. He has also been taught to believe that all vampires are evil and must be killed, but underneath he has a pretty open mind. Once he starts to see the truth of things, he comes around pretty quickly and even becomes protective of the good vampires. It was really cool that Austin had psychic and telekinetic powers. This is a little different for paranormal romance, but it fit the story quite well. I loved that Austin is seriously attracted to the whole package that is Darcy and not just her beauty. It was really sweet that Austin doggedly pursued Darcy while she was a bit more reluctant because of her situation. Overall, Austin was an incredibly nice guy with a sensitive side who usually always said just the right thing in romantic situations.
Vamps and the City has a strong supporting cast. Roman and Shanna (How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire) put in a couple of brief appearances. The women of the harem were a hoot, although the only one who wasn't exceptionally shallow was Darcy's friend, Vanda. She gets to become the heroine of book #8, Forbidden Nights with a Vampire. We are also introduced to Emma, a new co-worker of Austin's on loan from MI6. She will be the heroine of the next full-length novel in the series, Be Still My Vampire Heart. The vampire men, Connor (Vampire Mine), Ian (All I Want for Christmas Is a Vampire), and Gregori (Sexiest Vampire Alive) also have roles in the story. I thought that Darcy's other friend, Maggie would make a good heroine too, and she has her own novella, A Very Vampy Christmas, which is next in the series.
I enjoyed the initial mystery of whether Darcy was a vampire. There is a constant is she or isn't she vibe throughout the first third or so of the story. The reveal of both character's true identities came a little sooner than I expected, which led to a temporary separation in the middle of the book. Although Austin and Darcy's break-up made perfect sense for the story, this part lagged a little for me, because I really missed their sparkling chemistry. The ending had a great twist to it that I wasn't expecting, and I have to say that I'm really liking the development of the series story arc. Some things happened in this book that advanced the overall plot, and I'll be looking forward to seeing where things go next. Overall, Vamps and the City was a great read that has me eager to continue the series as soon as possible, and with two winners in a row, Kerrelyn Sparks has earned a spot on my favorite authors list.
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