Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Books I'm Not Reading -- "Dangerous Games"

In Melbourne's urban underworld, there's a nightclub for every fantasy and desire. But for Riley Jenson, one such club has become an obsession. Riley, a rare hybrid of vampire and werewolf, hasn't come in pursuit of pleasure but of an unknown killer who's been using the steamy nightspot as his hunting grounds.

Sometimes I'm just the wrong audience for a book. Although I'm all up for werewolves, vampires and serial killers, singly and together, I'm not particularly enthusiastic about them in a "deliciously sexy adventure." (And do they have any werewallabies Down Under? Just curious.)

These "paranormal romances" obviously have their fans, and such writers as Laurel K. Hamilton and Kim Harrison have succeeded in finding large, eager audiences for their urban fantasies featuring highly sexed supernatural protagonists and antagonists. But these kinds of books don't interest me, and I suspect I'm not equipped to critique them in any meaningful way.

A while back, I was asked to review "Happy Hour at Casa Dracula" by Marta Acosta. I don't think I did a particularly good job of it, mainly because the conventions of the vampire-romance subgenre grate on me so. I found the characters annoying and their behavior baffling and the plot more than faintly ridiculous. But I could see that the things that turned me off would work for the book's intended audience and that Acosta was writing well and wittily within the set of rules she had chosen for herself. So I gave her a favorable review, concluding, "One suspects that the ultimate merit of 'Happy Hour at Casa Dracula' can be determined only by those readers squarely within its target demographic, but those with a taste for unlikely romance will probably find it a refreshing warm-weather treat."

Something of a cop-out -- and a reason why I won't be reading "Dangerous Games" by Keri Arthur or any other paperback originals that promise "a world of peril and pleasure that will leave readers panting for the next installment."

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