Thursday, February 16, 2023

Lynsay Sands - The Trouble With Vampires

For close to three thousand years the imposing, impossibly handsome Santo Notte has fought in armies across the world and battled his own, more personal enemies. Of all the places he might expect to encounter his life mate, a quiet corner of upstate New York doesn’t seem likely. But as soon as he makes contact with history professor Petronella Stone, while hunting down a suspected rogue immortal, he knows that she will be the greatest adventure of his eternal life.
He expects her to be surprised, confused, even overwhelmed. What he doesn’t expect is that Pet has a secret history of her own. There’s no mistaking the mind-blowing, mutual pleasure they share. But as Pet struggles to protect her nephew from a danger lurking too close to home, Santo realizes there’s another threat to her safety—him. And claiming their passionate future will be impossible until he leaves his past behind, forever…

Comment: This is installment #29 in the Argeneau series. This PNR series focuses on the Argeneau family and how they find their life mates. The first book (not in chronological order) was published in 2003 and it's still ongoing. 

In this book we have Santo Notte's story. He is one of the multiple cousins we keep hearing about and who has been in several books as a secondary character, only now it's his time to find his life mate. While investigating something with Marguerite, Julian and others, Santo meets Petronella, who is babysitting her nephew. He realizes she is his life mate and is quite thrilled, but she is hiding a secret, which can both work for and against the possibility of her accepting a possible relationship with him. At the same time, the investigation points to the fact perhaps dr Dressler, the enemy on the run for a few books so far, might be near. Could it be they will finally have enough to catch him?

After so many past installments and other comments on previous books and even available information in several sites about this series, I won't go into it again, but let it be said that nothing really changes from what one would expect of this series in terms of formula and development. I suppose that, at this point, a new reader won't be truly impressed and a fan would like it anyway or read it out of dedication/familiarity. Still, I did find one little element which made this romance slightly different, but at the same time I don't think the execution was as well done as it could.

Usually the formula goes very simply: immortal character meets human life mate, has to convince that person to love them and to accept turning immortal as well, and most of the plot is about this, with some bad guys causing problems and being hunted to add drama or move things forward. In here, I was surprised that although Petronella is human she is aware of the immortals existence and doesn't even assume they are vampires, as anyone might do.

It's indeed refreshing but the way this information is given to us seems to happen at a weird time, way after Petronella got aware of the immortals and since the narrator is third person, the reader would have been made aware of this fact way before. But this didn't happen so when Petronella shares this with Santo I was a little surprised with the timing, it felt very off. I suppose the author had other plans and then wanted to write other scenes before this had to happen but I feel it wasn't the best choice because it made the sequence of events a little nonsensical.

Apart from the disjointed elements, I also think the romance between Petronella and Santo wasn't as alluring as it could. In the beginning, the stories were pure comedy and the romance cute and funny. Then some stories started to have stronger or darker elements, which would obviously add those tones to the overall effect, and I don't mind it really, but there was a shift in how the author conducted things. The (several) past installments have things so obviously divided into romance and plot that some romances just seem to go through the motions, like this one, even considering their personal backgrounds being different from what other couples faced.

Petronella has a truly bad experience in her childhood, regarding her biological parents' fate, and Santo is an immortal who had a lot of tragedy....of course it's good to see they kind of moved on but the only personal developments to speak of between them was when they shared some details and all the sex stuff we came to expect about life mates. I don't think there's a true advance in why their personalities matter to a good dynamic between them or why they work as a couple and can be life mates.

At the end, more sudden and life altering things happen to more than one character, more characters certainly will pop up in future books because of this or linked to this situation and the cycle is never ending. 
I guess it wouldn't matter that much of the romances kept on feeling like inevitable. As soon as we know they can be life mates that's it, I guess it would be more interesting to develop characters beyond that as why they would work as a loving couple.
Grade: 6/10

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