Sunday, May 9, 2010

clichés abound in lyndsay sands' latest argeneau novel, tall, dark and hungry

The Argeneau family of vampire brothers returns in Lyndsay Sands' latest novel, Tall, Dark and Hungry. Yes, the clichés continue.
The previous two novels in the series that I have reviewed – Single, White Vampire and Love Bites – are part of the Argeneau series with such catchy titles as A Bite to Remember and Vampires Are Forever. It just goes to show, if something works the first, second and third time around, why not just keep it up.
I have to say, when I first read Love Bites, I hadn't seen the other novels and thought it a cute take on the current craze for all things fanged and hot. However after the second book, and now third in the series, the conceit is getting little tired.
Likewise, in Love Bites, the brother in question – Etienne – was at least involved in a bit of vampire-type action ie. Being stalked by a deranged vampire-wannabe who actually injured him, leading to his meeting his wife-to-be.
Read my review of Love Bites: Fun, vampire romance with tongue, firmly, in cheek
Single, White Vampire, the next one in the series saw a reclusive vampire author hook up with his editor – no action at all to speak of there – and now in the third series it's even less exciting.
Read my review of Single, White Vampire: Light, escapist reading
The couple from Love Bites, Lucern and Kate, are getting married so Kate's cousin Terri arrived in New York a few weeks earlier to help out. She's put up at Lucern's brother, Bastien's, apartment and that's about it.
They both like each other, they solve a few wedding disasters like a bankrupt caterer and a few family issues, like a vampire cousin who can't ingest blood from a bag, but really, that's it.
They fall in love, there's a misunderstanding as Bastien tries to explain he's a vampire – which in the Argeneau series means they're actually from Atlantis and have nano-bytes in their blood which is why they're so beautiful, live forever etc – and then there's a wedding to be planned: The End.
So, the first time around the conceit of the titles, the 'I may be a vampire but I'm just an ordinary bloke' attitude and nice descriptions of sex made the books a fun read. But, really, this is all very, very old the third time around.
In fact, Sands' books are simply pulp romances dressed up with vampires. Unfortunately the vampires aren't even slightly exciting. It's the 'Twilight' effect: Take a concept with centuries of tradition, thousands of permutations of moral dilemma, an edge of danger, a sense of transgression and rebellion, and whitewash the lot of it with middle-class suburbanisation, Middle America bible-bashing and lowest, common denominator pop culture.
What you get are vampire stories with no bite – pun intended in the case of Twilight. You lose the dichotomy of good versus evil, the psychological tug of war between sex and blood, and the true moral dilemma of immortality.
So, if you're looking for a light-hearted romantic read, Tall, Dark and Hungry is fine. However, it's a mere feather-weight when compared to the much more complicated and fascinating series from Laurell K Hamilton or Anne Rice.
For real vampires with fangs, moral grey areas and truly raunchy sex, stay with the mistresses of the genre and leave this series on the shelf.

Tall, Dark and Hungry by Lyndsay Sands is published by Gollancz and is available from good book stores and online.


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