Lisa Sharkey: What is it really about vampires that makes them so alluring? Is it the piercing dark eyes, or their pale white skin? Perhaps it's the mysterious world they inhabit or the forbidden romance we secretly desire. Or maybe it is their ability to have what we cannot ... eternal life.
If you are obsessed with "Twilight" (I even begged my husband to dress as a vampire for Halloween this year, and he did) and cannot get enough of the bloodsucking world, then sink your fangs into a few more secretly steamy, underworldly novels. Here are some books that readers are also finding on their bedside tables, or hiding in their underwear drawers.
If You Like 'Twilight,' You'll Love These
Dead Witch Walking, by Kim Harrison
Rachel Morgan is a runner with the Inderland Runner Services, apprehending law-breakers throughout Cincinnati. She's also a witch, one of the many Inderlanders who revealed themselves after a genetically engineered virus wiped out 50% of humanity. Witches, warlocks, vampires, werewolves -- the creatures of dreams and nightmares have lived beside humans for centuries, hiding their powers. But now they've stopped hiding, and nothing will be the same.
On the run with a contract on her head, Rachel reluctantly teams up with Ivy, Inderland's best runner ... and a living vampire. But this witch is way out of her league, and to clear her name, Rachel must evade shape-changing assassins, outwit a powerful businessman/crime lord, and survive a vicious underground fight-to-the-death ... not to mention her own roommate!
Once Dead, Twice Shy, by Kim Harrison
Madison Avery's junior prom killed her -- literally. She doesn't know why a Dark Reaper came after her, but that didn't stop her from stealing his amulet, which she discovered allows her soul to continue living on in a temporary body. But now she's being babysat by a disgruntled Light Reaper who's supposed to be training her, while angels try to figure out what's supposed to happen to her next. But Madison can't stay out of trouble for long, so along with her prom date, Josh (who is getting cuter by the minute), and her guardian angel, Grace, Madison takes matters into her own hands -- only to discover that she is fated to become one of the most powerful leaders in the realm of the dark and light reapers. Well, if she believed in that stuff.
Nightwalker, by Jocelynn Drake
A fast-paced supernatural debut -- think "Underworld" meets "Alias" -- about a globe-trotting vampire enforcer who discovers a terrible secret about the triad that raised her, and the vampire hunter who is stalking her.
Mira has been a nightwalker for centuries, traveling the globe as an enforcer for a secretive, powerful organization. But this vampire has a secret that makes her a valuable target: the unheralded ability to create fire. And after many centuries, she's finally met her match in Danaus -- a vampire hunter with his own mysterious past.
But the cat and mouse game between nightwalker and hunter quickly turns into something far more deadly. For a portal has been opened to other worlds, and the ancient, immortal enemies are returning to the world. And the web of lies and secrets leads directly to the vampire triad who raised Mira.
After a brutal betrayal, Mira has only one choice: hunt ... or be hunted.
Night's Cold Kiss, by Tracey O'Hara
The tension between the Aeternus, an ancient vampiric people, and humanity has been mounting for over a century. But when rogue vampires begin to drain humans in order to achieve an illegal blood-high, all bets are off.
After the death of her parents, Antoinette Petrescu devoted her life to becoming one of the top Venators, the elite hunters who destroy the rogue Necrodreniacs. Her kill count is legendary, and her skills superb.
But now the serial killer who killed her parents has returned. And to stop him, Antoinette must join forces not only with the Aeternus, but also their most legendary killer. One that is both dangerously attractive, and involved in buried secrets of her past. More dangerous still, a dark attraction grows between them -- one that could doom both races.
The Scent of Shadows, by Vicki Pettersson
Fans of Kim Harrison and Laurell K. Hamilton won't want to miss this action-packed, supernatural debut featuring a young woman who discovers she has the ability to detect evil, and a perilous destiny as a member of the enigmatic Zodiac.
Joanna Archer knows all about darkness. Raped at age 16, she's spent the last 9 years watching the dark side of humanity. By day, she's an heiress and photographer in Vegas. By night, she prowls the forsaken streets looking for revenge ... and the chance to exorcise the demon within.
Until a chance date turned horrific reveals a world beyond the bright lights and big action of Sin City -- an otherworld filled with supernatural forces where Light and Dark war with each other. Only the brave members of the Zodiac -- twelve men and women endowed with magical abilities -- can keep evil at bay. And with a mysterious legacy from her mother and preternatural fighting skills, Joanna could be one of them ... if she survives long enough.
Because the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powers of darkness want her for their own.
The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry
"My name is Towner Whitney. No, That's not exactly true. My real first name is Sophya. Never believe me. I lie all the time ..."
Towner Whitney, the self-confessed unreliable narrator of "The Lace Reader," hails from a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns in lace, and who have guarded a history of secrets going back generations, but the disappearance of two women brings Towner home to Salem and the truth about the death of her twin sister to light.
"The Lace Reader" is a mesmerizing tale which spirals into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies, and half-truths where the reader quickly finds it's nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction, but as Towner Whitney points out early on in the novel, "There are no accidents."
Barry creates brain-teaser puzzles for Smart Games, and she drew upon this talent in the construction of "The Lace Reader."
The Strain, by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
A heart-stopping thriller -- the first in a trilogy -- about an invasion of vampires by one of Hollywood's most popular and imaginative storytellers: the creator of the Oscar-winning "Pan's Labyrinth."
A Boeing 777 lands at JFK after a flight from Berlin and is on its way to the gate -- when it suddenly goes dark. Just stops dead. The control tower loses contact with the pilot and all electrical activity shuts down. No movement or communication from inside. Nada. An emergency crew gathers, everyone watching the silent plane now bathed in floodlights. Then a sliver of black quietly appears on the fuselage. It's a door opening from within.
Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of the CDC's New York team, enters and finds the cabin looking like a winged graveyard, where everyone appears to be dead. As he begins to remove bodies for transport to the morgue, four victims are discovered miraculously alive -- and relatively unscathed, apart from complaints of disorientation and a strange soreness.
But this is just the beginning.
At the same time, Eldrich Palmer, director of the global Stoneheart Group, monitors the JFK scene on TV from his sickbed in Virginia. Pleased with what he sees, he sends for a helicopter for immediate transport to a Manhattan penthouse. In Queens, Eph's ex-wife Kelley and their 11-year-old son ready themselves with the rest of the Eastern United States for the first total lunar eclipse in more than four hundred years. In a pawn shop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Nazi concentration camps named Abraham Setrakian takes it all in. He knows that his time has come, that a war is about to begin, and that the Master is here.
So begins an escalating battle of epic proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected the four survivors begins to ravage the city. Eph -- guided by Setrakian, and joined by Vassily, an exterminator, Nora, Eph's CDC colleague, and Gus, a Harlem gangbanger -- fights his way through the next horrifying days, determined to save his ex-wife and son before the Master succeeds in his unholy mission.
How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire, by Kerrelyn Sparks
So what if he's a bit older and usually regards a human female as dinner, not a dinner date? Yes, Roman Draganesti is a vampire, but a vampire who lost one of his fangs sinking his teeth into something he shouldn't have. Now he has one night to find a dentist before his natural healing abilities close the wound, leaving him a lop-sided eater for all eternity.
Things aren't going well for Shanna Whelan, either ... After witnessing a gruesome murder by the Russian mafia, she's next on their hit list. And her career as a dentist appears to be on a downward spiral because she's afraid of blood. When Roman rescues her from an assassination attempt, she wonders if she's found the one man who can keep her alive. Though the attraction between them is immediate and hot, can Shanna conquer her fear of blood to fix Roman's fang? And if she does, what will prevent Roman from using his fangs on her ...
The Undead Next Door, by Kerrelyn Sparks
Jean-Luc Echarpe needs to go into hiding, just long enough so that people will forget what he looks like ... because when you're a vampire, the fact that you never age is cause for scrutiny. Exiled to a small town in Texas, life is almost bearable when he meets lovely Heather Westfield. Then an old enemy resurfaces, determined to destroy Jean-Luc and everyone he loves. Now Jean-Luc must find a way to protect Heather while keeping his true nature a secret -- but time is running out.
All I Want for Christmas Is a Vampire, by Kerrelyn Sparks
Vampire Ian MacPhie has a new face and a new mission -- now that he looks twenty-seven instead of fifteen, he's on the lookout for true love. He claims that all he wants is another vampire ... until Toni Duncan comes along. Toni's best friend is locked up in a psycho ward, deemed insane when she confesses that vampires attacked her. The only way to get her out is for Toni to prove that vampires exist. So Toni comes up with a plan: make Ian lose control, and beg him to transform her. He's reluctant -- for he's deeply in love with Toni, and doesn't want to act too fast -- and a passionate chase ensues.
Bite Me If You Can, by Lynsay Sands
Lucian Argeneau may be a vampire, but he's also a bit of a grump. Hundreds of years spent hunting rogue immortals will do that to a man. The last thing he expects is to find a reluctant vampire who's having a bit of a tough time adjusting to her new life. Lucian hasn't had to interact with a woman this closely for thousands of years, and he had no intention of starting now. But the best-laid plans ...
Leigh has been through a lot, but nothing quite prepared her for the situation she finds herself in. Thrust into the world of immortals and forced to absorb an astonishing amount of information, Leigh thinks that her tutor might exhibit a little more patience and a little less attitude. Of course, that doesn't stop her from finding him far too attractive for her own good. But Leigh, Lucian, and their new relationship will be put to the test when a very real threat enters their lives ...
The Accidental Vampire, by Lynsay Sands
Victor Argeneau leads a simple life, perfectly content as an enforcer for the Council. Who has time to look for love when there are rogue vampires to track down? Victor thought he'd seen it all, but when he finds his latest quarry, life gets a whole lot more complicated.
Elvi Black isn't sure what's going on -- one day she's driving her car, the next she's a knockout with a strange craving for blood. She knows she's somehow become a vampire, but she doesn't know how -- or why she's not feeling that "evil dead vibe." Her first encounter with Victor opens her eyes in more ways than one, but can an accidental vampire and a career-driven confirmed bachelor ever make it work?
Vampires Are Forever, by Lynsay Sands
Ines Urso is not pleased. After dragging herself out of bed and running to the airport at 5 AM, Thomas Argeneau has the nerve to ignore her! Here she's gone through all this trouble, and disrupted her carefully planned life, and he acts like she's not even there. Once she tracks him down, she's going to give him a piece of her mind -- if she can ignore his charming good looks long enough.
When Thomas opens his hotel room door to an irate woman, he knows he's in big trouble. But it's not his fault no one told him he was going to have a partner! He's determined to make it up to her though, because he's starting to believe she's going to have a permanent place in his life. On a wild search to track down his aunt, and with his entire family descending upon them, Thomas and Ines are finding out that when it comes to happily ever after, no one does it quite like the Argeneaus.
Halfway to the Grave, by Jeaniene Frost
Catherine Crawfield has more than a few skeletons in her closet. Most people just think of her as a loner; the illegitimate daughter of the town floozy. But Cat has a good reason for keeping her father's identity a secret. Being the child of a vampire isn't something you want to broadcast around town. So Cat keeps to herself during the day, and at night, she patrols the darkest parts of town, slaying any and all vamps that get in her way, determined to take revenge on the creatures who ruined her mother's life.
But when Cat is captured by Bones, it's clear that the master vampire has a few things to teach her. Teaming up with one of "them" wasn't in her plan, but Cat is never one to miss an opportunity, and this partnership will definitely work to her advantage. Now that the stakes have been raised, Cat and Bones are faced with the most difficult fight of all, as they battle their enemies -- and their attraction for each other.
Destined for an Early Grave, by Jeaniene Frost
After their recent war with rogue vampires, Cat thinks a little rest and relaxation are in their future. But she's plagued by dreams of a master vampire who claims to be from her past. As the dreams intensify and the shadowy figure in them proves to be more than a figment of her subconscious, she realizes there are parts of her past that have been hidden. To unlock these memories and deal with a growing danger to herself and Bones, Cat may have to venture all the way into the grave. But finding out the truth could rock what she knows about herself -- and her relationship with Bones.
Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter, by A.E. Moorat
Following in the bloodied footsteps of the hugely successful "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," we see the well-known historical events of Queen Victoria's early life and Albert's death given a hilarious, demonic twist. The novel takes you to the smoggy, cobbled streets of Victoria's vile and villainous Britain, but not as you know them ... A layer of horror will be seamlessly woven in to comedic effect: you'll meet a group of demonic, feral chimney sweeps, who first appear to victims as angelic, Christmas-card versions of urchins, before transforming into agents of death, swarming over their victims; and Prince Albert as the repentant servant of darkness; and Queen Victoria, not as the bitter old widow forever draped in black, but young, newly crowned, and transformed into an ass-kicking killer of evil creatures.
It will be so scarily convincing that you'll be certain that in the dark days of Queen Victoria, Jack the Ripper, and 19th century foggy London, it was more than just the pickpockets you had to look out for.
|Lisa Sharkey is Senior Vice President and Director of Creative Development for HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide. Sharkey also served as Senior Producer for ABC's Good Morning America. Lisa and her husband, architect Paul Gleicher, completed one of the country's first total Eco Houses, a "green" brownstone in Manhattan where they reside with their three children. They are the authors of Dreaming Green: Eco-Fabulous Homes Designed to Inspire and have a web site DreamingGreenBook.com|