La Vida Vampire by Nancy Haddock

(Oldest City Vampire, #1)
Paranormal Romance

First in a delightfully irreverent new series-and second to none when it comes to beautiful 227-year-old career women.

Being dead isn't all it's cracked up to be. Take it from Francesca Marinelli, trapped underground for over 200 years and rediscovered during the renovation of a Victorian mansion in historic St. Augustine. A tourist attraction herself, she's well suited for a job as an Old Ghost Town Tour guide. Francesca's due for a new lease on afterlife-and with enough sunblock, she can finally live it.

Unfortunately, everything she learned about men is a little dated. And when people in her tour group turn up dead, naturally the police suspect her. After all, she is a vampire. Which is why a crazed vampire-hunting vigilante squad is out to get her as well. Between the dead bodies, the stalkers, and a seriously non-existent love life, she's starting to wish she was dead. Or at least buried, where she was safe.

My best friend Melissa brought these back from a trip to St. Augustine, Florida. She's fascinated by the city, as almost everyone in Florida is. It's stunning, rich with history and antiquity, quiet and peaceful, loaded with ghost tours, ghostly legends, and a quaint charm that comes naturally to it. Nancy Haddock created a vampire trilogy set in this neat city, focusing on a vampire that had been buried for over 200 years, and now has been unearthed to live in modern society.

At first I was hesitant. Being called "Princess vampire" on the back cover blurbs was a turn-off. Sounded much too cute and cheesy to me. Thankfully this is sort of a joke and the story of it is explained. She is no way considers herself a "Princess" at all.

It took me a chapter or two to really get into the story, reminding me a bit of cutesy paranormal romances. I found myself genuinely laughing at several scenes as the characters personality really is amazing. Heroine is almost too pure, but I did enjoy her outlook on things and find her amusing. Her friends help make the book shine as all sidekicks and friends were well designed, interesting, and dimensional. Saber as the introduced detective is simply HOT. Their interactions were the funniest, more enjoyable aspects of the book.

 So yes, the story is a cutesy one; however, it's not cheesy or over-the top and makes a fun, summerish read. Romance is a big deal for the story, but Haddock doesn't damper the plot at all to make this so. The relationship actually has a depth, and the book dishes out a decent mystery story with various layers. Also, there are several plot elements at once working in full force. The main mystery at hand, the danger of the looming covenant and its zealot follows, the dangers of vampire clans in nearby cities, and the mysteries, bizarre Pandora and hidden wizard Cesca knows nothing about. There's also a hint of someone from her past returning, with plenty of mystery wrapped around that.

I was a bit let down with who the villain ended up being, as they let that out too early in the story. Typically it was then time to stun the audience into realizing it was someone ELSE. This way the suspense was let out a little and it ended up a bit too easy.

The ghost tours were such fun with the ensemble of paper people Haddock invented. You could feel the fun, southern charm. Loved how Haddock uses the settings and rich history of St. Augustine, Florida, for these novels.

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