Lissianna Argeneau is a two hundred year old vampire who faints at the sight of blood. Needless to say, this has been a bit of a problem ever since the vampire council mandated that everyone of their race should get their food from blood banks instead of feeding directly from humans. In an effort to cure her daughter's phobia, Lissi's mother gets her a psychologist for her birthday. Of course, Lissi doesn't know his true purpose in being there, so when she finds the handsome doctor tied to her bed, she thinks he's a special birthday treat and a very tasty-looking one at that.
Gregory Hewitt doesn't know what possessed him to climb into the trunk of a strange woman's car and then willingly allow himself to be tied to a bed in her home. Maybe he's loosing his mind, but when a beautiful blond bombshell comes in and starts "unwrapping" him and sucking on his neck, he figures there are worse things than being used as a sex slave. Still, the woman and her entire family are acting like a bunch of kooks, all of whom apparently want him to treat her mysterious phobia.
Based on all the glowing reviews and recommendations I've see for Lynsay Sands' books, I'd really been looking forward to trying one for quite some time. I picked up A Quick Bite, the first in her Argeneau Vampires series, thinking it was going to be a great read, but in the end, it was lackluster and just OK for me. The story premise showed a great deal of promise, but ultimately proved to not be very compelling. The characters were likable enough, but rather flat and one-dimensional. They just didn't stand out to me in any way. This is a romance novel, and yet, in my opinion, there was precious little romance to speak of. For the first 2/3 of the book, I simply didn't feel any emotional connection at all between the hero and heroine. There were a few kisses, a couple of which were meant to be sensual, but that still wasn't enough to ignite that spark of passion for me. It just felt like mere lust or worse yet, kisses without any emotion or intensity behind them. Up to this point, there was an appalling lack of feeling words and body language. It seemed like any feelings these two might be experiencing for one another were being told to me rather than shown. The three love scenes during the final 1/3 of the book were a significant improvement over the rest of the story up to that point. There was definitely more feeling in those which is probably why I didn't end up giving the book a lower rating. I just wish the author would have brought that out sooner, so I could have sensed it building more slowly over time, instead of happening all at once. As is, it was still very difficult to buy into this couple being meant for each other and making the kinds of life-altering commitments they did in such a short amount of time. I believe the entire story played out within a mere week's time, and within that short span they were essentially ready to spend eternity with one another which was a bit much to swallow.
As I said before, Greg and Lissianna were likable enough, but in my opinion, their characterizations were seriously lacking depth. Most of what I learned about them barely scratched the surface, and didn't really give me many clues as to what made them tick. Greg is a psychologist specializing in phobias. He's something of a workaholic, whose family is always trying to set him up with women. Greg talks briefly about having broken up with his ex-fiancée (while they were in the midst of planning their wedding, no less), because he thought she was too needy. He also mentions that his dad was a womanizing jerk. I thought both of these things could have been explored more fully to make his character more interesting. I also thought he was far too easily accepting of first, being kidnapped, and then finding out his kidnappers are vampires. He just kind of takes it all in stride with little or no fear of the situation which simply didn't ring true to me. One thing I did like about Greg though, is that he's pretty humble about his looks. He doesn't consider himself to be a gorgeous stud, but more on the average side.
Lissianna could have been an extremely intriguing character. She's a vampire with hemophobia (fear of blood) who faints at the mere sight of it. Lissi's mother brought Greg in to treat her for this condition, but then he didn't end up doing anything for her before the story ended, which was disappointing to say the least. The author makes it very clear that Lissi has led a pretty sheltered life for all of her 200 years, and only recently moved out on her own. I thought she was hinting at the possibility that Lissi was still a virgin, but if that was the case, she certainly never said it in so many words even though she also never mentioned Lissi having any other relationships in her lifetime. I initially thought that having Lissi working in a homeless shelter was a new and interesting occupation for a vampire heroine, but then I came to realize her reasons weren't entirely altruistic. She did say that she thought she could help the homeless people while they helped her by giving her easy access to donors to feed from, but this seemed ethically questionable to me. On top of that, I never really did understand exactly what kind of work Lissi did at the shelter. Much like Greg, she has some serious daddy issues too. It was something her father did when she was young that started her phobia, but this was nothing more than a mere admission that it happened. Last but not least, Lissi took her good sweet time accepting Greg as her life mate, ostensibly because she was afraid of love and commitment, but no good reason ever surfaced to explain this fear. There were so many good ingredients here that could have made Lissi a wonderful heroine, but I felt the author dropped the ball on each and every one of them. If she'd taken the time and care to explore and develop a few of them more fully, Lissi would have been a much richer character.
There are a number of secondary characters in the story, some of whom get their own books later in the series. Normally, I wouldn't mind a large cast, but in this case, I felt like I was being inundated with them all at once. They all have very strong, almost overwhelming, personalities as well, which when put together was a bit too much. In one fell swoop, we're introduced to Lissi's mother, Marguerite (Vampire, Interrupted), her aunt, Martine, her friend, Mirabeau ("Vampire Valentine" from Bitten by Cupid), and her five cousins: Thomas (Vampires Are Forever), Jeanne Louise (The Lady is a Vamp), Elspeth, Juli, and Vicki. Out of these, the only ones who stood out to me in any way were Thomas and Mirabeau. Thomas seemed like a pretty nice guy who was really fun and laid back, and for some reason, Mirabeau reminded a bit of Alice from the Twilight series. Later on, Lissi's uncle, Lucian (Bite Me if You Can) shows up, and all three of her brothers, Bastian (Tall, Dark, and Hungry), Etienne (Love Bites), and Lucerne (Single White Vampire) are mentioned, although they're essentially in the background. It's clear that Lissi's family love her very much, and usually, I'm all for a big, loving family, but most of these people hover like nobody's business. The cousins and friend (yes, all six of them) have an annoying habit of spying on and/or interrupting Lissi and Greg when they're kissing. They constantly walk into Greg and Lissi's bedrooms without knocking too, even when they're in bed naked, and Thomas even walked in on them once as they'd just finished having sex and didn't even have the decency to look away. Instead he just started chatting with them like it was perfectly normal. It made me keep wondering: Do these people have serious privacy issues or are they closet voyeurs?
The last but probably most important thing that bugged me about this book was the author's writing style. Typically, I love the introspective passages of a novel, because they give me a chance to get to know the characters better. Here though, the characters (and I suspect the author herself) have a tendency to way over-think things. The introspective narration was generally little more than a stream of consciousness analysis of nearly every little thing that was happening, rather than giving any true insights into the characters' feelings and motivations. When it comes to scene-setting, the author overdoes it with the explanations too. These things make the narrative too wordy and repetitious, which bogs things down while sometimes being confusing as well. I can't begin to count the number of times I felt like getting out my red editor's pen to cross out phrases, sentences or even entire paragraphs that were simply unnecessary, which is never a good sign. During these times, I was often saying in my head, "Yes, we already know this" or "Do we really need to know this?" All this explaining of every little detail doesn't leave any room for subtly either. I think Ms. Sands needs to dispense with the hand-holding and trust her readers to read between the lines, which would make for a much more concise and interesting book. As is, it made me feel like the story was being spoon-fed to me which was pretty frustrating.
One of the few positive things I can say about A Quick Bite was that the world-building was rather interesting. As with most authors in the paranormal genre, Ms. Sands has her own take on the vampire mythology. The only thing that gave me pause was having the vampires originate in Atlantis. Being a long-time reader of the Dark-Hunter series, I couldn't help thinking, "Been there, done that," but otherwise, most of it was fairly unique, as was the Canadian setting. As I mentioned before, the premise was also unusual and could have been so much more if it was only developed a bit better. Overall, I'd say that A Quick Bite was somewhat of a let-down for me, but it did have a few good points. Since so many people do seem to love Ms. Sands' books and since it is my understanding that the next three books in the series were put out by a different publisher, I'll probably give her another try at some point. Hopefully, some of her other works are better written and more importantly, better edited.
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