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Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

FANGED & FABULOUS by Michelle Rowen

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Judging from all accounts, the vampire romance novel is here to stay for a good long time. As with any other venue, there will be some good practitioners and some who also ran.

After reading Fanged & Fabulous, Michelle Rowen’s second novel about new vampire Sarah Dearly, I’m inclined to believe that the author and heroine are both going to be around for a bit. Or a bite.

Rowen drinks deeply in the same vein (and I’ve got to stop that soon) that MaryJanice Davidson (Undead and Unemployed) does. In Rowen’s world, as in Davidson’s, vampires are a many-splendored thing, but not necessarily to always be taken seriously.

Sarah Dearly is a riot and a mess, a combination which always seems to strike gold in the romance market. In the previous novel, Bitten & Smitten, Sarah was turned into a vampire by a blind date and very nearly killed by vampire hunters. She also became the lover of an ancient vampire named Thierry de Bennicoeur, who apparently wants to keep Sarah at arm’s distance. During the events of that novel, she ended up becoming known as the Slayer of Slayers, a reputation that guarantees her eternal enmity with the vampire slayers stalking her kind – but it also kind of serves to keep them at arm’s distances as well.

The new novel brings Sarah a lot of problems. Her relationship with Thierry isn’t going well. To make matters even worse, she seems to be getting along better with her lover’s wife than her lover (there’s a definite problem with getting a divorce when you’re a vampire, as Sarah discovers). And there’s only so much sympathy Sarah can take from the wife before she’s ready to snap.

To complicate things further, Sarah is also invited into the inner circle of vampires, called the Ring, by another ancient vampire, Nicolai. It doesn’t help that Nicolai seems to be at odds with Thierry for reasons known only to them.

Then someone blows up Sarah’s apartment. She loses her “shard,” a mystical object that is the only way she has of seeing her reflection (she can’t even check her look without it and has to depend on the honesty of her friends!), a pair of secondhand Pradas that were to die for, and all her other belongings.

With her vulnerability brought into sharp focus, and wanting to do a little butt-kicking in revenge, Sarah starts taking self-defense lessons from the two bodyguards Thierry assigns to keep watch over her. But even as she starts learning to take care of herself, things take another turn for the worse when Gideon Chase – the master hunter of the vampire slayers – locks onto her trail and determines to stake her himself.

Rowen keeps the book moving along quickly. Her wry humor is a lot like Davidsons, and readers of both series may enjoy the resonance between the books or be disturbed by it, but she’s definitely one to read as the vampire romance novels start getting a bit long in the tooth. (Sorry. Compulsive.)

The plot circles a little bit before striking out into new territory, but the scenery is pleasant and the company is good. Fanged & Fabulous is only Rowen’s third novel, so she’s entitled to spend some time sharpening her craft. However, she’s off to an outstanding start and I’m eagerly awaiting her next books.

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