Ian MacPhie is a nearly five hundred year old vampire. He was turned at the age of fifteen and spent his whole life struggling to earn respect from his fellow warrior vamps when he looked like a kid. Needless to say, getting women to like him in more than a motherly way has been all but impossible too. After taking a drug that made him age twelve years, he finally feels like his outside has caught up to the inside, and the first thing he wants is to find true love. The only problem is he has no idea how to go about it. His friend, Vanda, sets him up with a profile at an online dating service, and soon he's up to his ears in women of both the vampire and human varieties. Ian adamantly wants a vamp woman so that he can be completely honest about who and what he is without scaring the poor girl, but if that's the case, why can he not keep his eyes and thoughts from straying toward the pretty, new, mortal, daytime guard.
Toni Davis's best friend, Sabrina, was attacked in the park and claimed her assailants were vampires. The young woman's confession got her locked up in the loony bin, and Toni is determined to free her. The next night, she returned to the park, looking for the perpetrators, only to be attacked herself. She was saved when Connor, one of the vampire, Highland guards, showed up, but not before having a very bad experience with the Malcontents use of mind control on her. Connor took her back to Roman's town house, where he offered her a job as a daytime guard. She eagerly accepted, thinking it might be a good way to find hard evidence that vampires do exist and prove that Sabrina isn't out of her mind. Sparks fly in more ways than one at Toni's first meeting with Ian, but when she realizes he's "one of them," she knows there can never be anything between them. Ian is also the only one of the vamps who suspects she's up to something. Soon Toni discovers that not all vamps are bad and finds her heart turning flip-flops whenever Ian is around. But will he forgive her when he finds out the truth of why she's there, and more importantly, could he ever see her as a viable mate when all he seems to want for Christmas is a vampire?
I've read enough of Kerrelyn Sparks' books now that I know when I pick one up, I'll get a fun, entertaining, and romantic read. Ms. Sparks has a great sense of humor that resonates with me and a real talent for writing funny scenes and dialog. I often don't see the punch line coming, which makes these parts that much more hilarious. I haven't had a book crack me up as much as this one did in quite a while. Most rom coms come off as rather inane to me, like the author was trying too hard to be funny. Not so, with Ms. Sparks. Her humor is an organic part of the story, but her books are not just fun and games. She also has an equal talent for creating emotional moments and swoon-worthy scenes that are exactly what I read romance for. She definitely knows how to maintain the delicate balance between these two elements to create a wonderful story, and All I Want for Christmas Is a Vampire was certainly no exception.
I've adored Ian since the Love at Stake series began, so I was eagerly looking forward to reading his story. He's a total sweetheart, who up until the last book, perpetually looked like a fifteen year old boy, because that's the age at which he was turned into a vampire. Even though he was nearly 500 years old, he couldn't get women (at least not without using a bit of mind control), and he couldn't get any respect, even from his fellow vampires who knew how old he was. They just couldn't seem to get past him looking like a kid to treat him like the mature man he was inside. In The Undead Next Door, he used Roman's Stay-Awake drug, which finally aged him into a twenty-seven year old man, and now he wants more than anything to find true love. Even now that Ian looks like a full-grown man, he's still having issues with fulfilling that dream. There are plenty of loose women at the Horny Devils, the vampire club started by Roman's ex-harem, but Ian isn't turned on by them in the least. He wants true love, not a one-night stand. He's also an old-fashioned, chivalrous gentleman, which not all the ladies seem to appreciate, but which I loved. He's looking for a woman who is honest, loyal, intelligent and pretty (all good attributes in my book), who loves him for who he is, but since it was nearly impossible for him to court or date women through the centuries, he has virtually no idea how to go about it. His awkwardness because of his rapid growth spurt and his uncertainties where women are concerned are utterly endearing. When he first meets Toni, he ends up flirting with her and doesn't even realize he's doing it. Ian is every bit as sweet as he was before he aged twelve years. I was thrilled to see that only his body changed, not his personality, but at the same time, he definitely proves how manly he is by uttering some of the steamiest lines I've ever read in a romance. Ian is so scrumptiously sexy, he finds himself up to his eyeballs in women who want him in very short order, but there's only one woman he truly wants.
Toni begins the story with a bit of a chip on her shoulder where vampires are concerned but with good reason. Her best friend, Sabrina, was attacked by vampires in the park and then committed to the psych ward when she told the police and medical personnel the truth of what happened. She begged Toni to prove that vampires really exist, so she could be released. Not entirely believing Sabrina herself, Toni goes to the park the next night, only to be attacked as well. The only reason the Malcontents didn't end up killing her is that Connor came to her rescue and teleported her away. Since she had fought bravely and already knew of the vampires' existence, he offered her a job as a day-time security guard, which Toni eagerly accepted, hoping to find evidence that would free Sabrina. She and Ian don't exactly get off on the right foot. He immediately suspects her of being up to something, and she thinks he's arrogant, in part because of all the women who are clamoring for his attention. Toni is quick-witted with a sarcastic, sharp-edged tongue that sometime makes her say hurtful things at first, but she harbors some obvious vulnerabilities that make her very relatable. Her family never loved or supported her, except her grandmother, and Toni has some deep-seated guilt about her grandmother's death. After Sabrina is committed, this guilt surfaces as Toni starts to believe that she always lets down the people she cares about the most. I could relate to the four affirmations she repeats to herself every morning in an attempt to actually believe them. These also showed just how vulnerable she was, but at the same time, I admired her scrappy, independent spirit and her unwavering loyalty to her friends. That devotion eventually extends to Ian as well, and I loved how she courageously wanted to fight the Malcontents by his side.
All I Want for Christmas Is a Vampire boasts a very full and diverse cast of secondary characters. Most of the previous heroes and heroines return in supporting roles or at the very least, pop in for a quick visit. Roman and Shanna (How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire) play fairly strong roles along with their adorable little son, Constantine, who has some pretty amazing gifts. Angus and Emma (Be Still My Vampire Heart) are seen briefly, and Jean-Luc and Heather (The Undead Next Door), a little more. There are also plenty of future heroes and heroines as well, including Vanda (Forbidden Nights with a Vampire), Phineas (Wanted: Undead or Alive), Connor (Vampire Mine), Howard (Wild about You) who we learn a little new information about, Gregori (Sexiest Vampire Alive), Dougal (The Vampire With the Dragon Tattoo), Zoltan (How to Seduce a Vampire (Without Really Trying)), Robby (The Vampire and the Virgin), and last but certainly not least, Giacomo aka Jack who will become the hero of the next book in the series, Secret Life of a Vampire. We are also introduced to Toni's other best friend, Carlos, who has some secrets of his own and plays a pivotal role in helping Toni spring her friend from the loony bin. He will become the hero of Eat, Prey, Love. I also don't think we've seen the last of Sabrina or Teddy, a geeky psych ward patient who looks out for her well-being. I thought Teddy was particularly cute and was so glad they didn't leave him behind during the escape. It seems Roman might have a very special place in his organization for these two mortals.
Admittedly, the Christmas theme in All I Want for Christmas Is a Vampire wasn't quite as strong as I would have hoped, but there was a fun Christmas costume ball, and I positively loved the vampires' Secret Santa program. If I were a vampire with all the special powers that go along with it, that's what I would do at Christmas too.:-) Overall, All I Want for Christmas Is a Vampire was a highly entertaining read that in turn made me laugh, say "Awww, how sweet and romantic," and fan myself. It was a great book for Christmastime or anytime of the year. I can't wait to read Jack's book next.
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