Queen Betsy: MaryJanice Davidson

#1 Undead and Unwed: Betsy Taylor is not the typical vampire queen. And her superficiality is hysterical. The cast of characters introduced here are pretty funny. I didn’t think this was the typical para-romance. It was a lot lighter on the romance then some of the stuff I have pulled out of the Sci-Fi section of my book store. It’s great to see the uniqueness of the queen in relation to the other vamps here – so that’s a nice change of pace. Normally, it’s pretty difficult to find unique points to the stories in this genre.

Seeing how Betsy becomes queen was interesting. It was also nice to not have that whole “I think I love you but am too traumatized by something terrible in my past to admit it/you could never love a monster like me you’re too fragile and beautiful” dialogue going on over and over (like most of the books in this genre). At the same time, that pulled some of the romance out of it.

The group that becomes Betsy’s entourage are great peripheral characters. We get enough about them to feel invested in them and to like them. The “good vamps” are endearing – even if “good” really isn’t the right word for them. As for the bad guy – Nostro – well, we don’t really get enough development to feel anything about him, so we have to take it for granted that he really is a bad guy. But it’s not hard to accept based on what we are told about them.

The writing – it’s funny. But definitely not the worlds greatest novel. These are some of the quickest reads ever. And I did find myself sometimes skimming paragraphs that were too outrageous, even for the world’s most vain vampire. And the shoes thing… well… I totally don’t get that. It makes Betsy pretty unique, but seem like one of the most moronic main characters to ever take center stage in one of these books. The fact that they are told in from her first-person point of view makes her a little tough to read sometimes without simply skimming.

I think she is funny enough to keep reading the series though. And I am eager to see what happens between her and Sinclair. There is clearly more to him and what he knows then what is revealed in this first book.

#4 Undead and Unreturnable:  One of the things I like best about this series is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. That, and they are really quick reads. I read this yesterday. The whole thing.

The more we get to know the characters here, the more I love them. And this book does a great job giving us more to know about the characters.

Betsy reminds me me of someone I knew growing up – someone who could always make absolutely everything about her. No matter what. And Jessica is the friend who is there for Betsy no matter what, and even though she totally is aware of Betsy’s shortcomings. TIna is awesome – she’s one of the characters though that I wish we knew a little more about. Sinclair is awesome. The mental picture I have of him from the description…. yum. And he is so complex and so simple all at the same time. It’s great. Marc… love Marc and his ability to totally not care about the fact that he is living with a bunch of vampires. The Ant… well, I am actually a little disappointed that she and Betsy seem to be working out a “civil” sort of behavior towards the end of this book – but her evilness and ability to totally not care about her infant is one of the things that makes me love how Betsy tortures her. One of my favorite things to read is when Betsy explains to the reader how the Ant was possessed by the devil for a year (or thereabouts) and no one noticed. It cracks me up every time I read it! Because we are given just enough of the Ant by this book to totally sympathize with Betsy over her relationship with her evil stepmom.

In this installment the plot seems even more light (not sure that is the right word) then the first 3. Despite the fact that there is a serial killer on the loose. I have to say that this felt a little like one of those filler/set-up books. But it was still worth the read. The big “oops” moment where Betsy tells Sinclair that she can read his mind was great. And I like how he sulks because of it. I also really like Betsy’s sister Laura. Seems like there’s going to be a great showdown (when ever that comes) between Bets and Laura.

I will say that I thought there would be much more to the serial killer plot then there was. I mean it was a big part of the book, but it wasn’t really the driving factor. In fact, I would call it more of a sub-plot then the main plot (despite what the jacket leads one to believe). That said, this book did feel more like a bunch of sub-plots without a main plot. Unless the main plot is simply “Betsy is the Queen Vamp”. Which is ok with me. And come to think of it, that is sort of how I felt in the last installment of this series too. But each of the sub-plots is entertaining enough and fun enough that it doesn’t really bother me.

As always, the writing is more like a real conversation I could hear my friends and I having. The swearing isn’t too much – but is to me, always a perfectly real response to something. The love scenes between Bets and Sinclair are getting a little more in depth (and steamier and juicer as a result) but aren’t too much to alter the overall tone of the book. I think the tone the writing sets is one of the most appealing things about this series, and this installment lives up to the standard set by the first few. One of the things I like best is when Betsy’s fangs pop out, the writing of her speech is phonetic so it’s fun to read (although there wasn’t a lot of that here).

Ms. Davidson knows how to take a peripheral character and build on them, to develop them over time. I really like George. And I hope that we’ll see a lot more of him in the future books. The whole idea of the queen having the attitude Betsy has is a great and refreshing way to look at the Vamp romance books. This series to me is not “serious” reading – what I mean is, it is something to keep me occupied when in line at the grocery store or to read while eating lunch as a break from a very serious job. Fun. Not something I need to take notes while reading to make sure I catch all the clues and foreshadowing and where I am debating on a podcast where the series will go next (I read those too, and love them, but from time to time, I need the pure fun of books like these).

I also love the artwork on the covers. I am trying to snatch up as many of these in this series as I can before some genius decides to change the artwork on the books. I hate it when publishers do that. And I think the light hearted artwork is perfect for this series. It would be a real bummer to me if that changed (and I think it has… I saw on amazon the pic for the latest book – and it is a totally new “theme” (is that the right term?) and that makes me sad).

I really enjoy this series. And I picked up the next one right away… definitely ones to enjoy on vacation since they are such good fun!

#5 Undead and Unpopular:  Betsy is back. And this time she’s decided to give up drinking blood. And she has lots of unscheduled visitors to her home at all sorts of hours and it’s great.

Still more like lots of little sub-plots, but I am also still glad about that. I read this one in a little more then a lunch hour.

I am a little bummed that there is apparently a short story between the last one and this one – which explains Garrett (formerly known as George the fiend) and Toni the werewolf’s relationship. And as a result of Toni, we saw basically no George. Which mad me sad. I don’t want another peripheral character to come into the picture if all said character is going to do is take one of my favorite characters out of the picture.

To even that out, we get quite a bit of Cathie – the ghost from the last book. And I am not so sure I like her. She reminds me to much of the way the Ant interacts with Betsy and one character being that way is enough.

I am glad Jessica gets some more time in this book, but I was sad that it was done via an illness. I guess the idea of Betsy turning one or more of her friends had to be addressed at some point and this was a way to do it. But hearing that Jess is cured at the end would have been really nice.

The “European” vamps were poised to be scary but totally weren’t. That’s keeping in line with the fact that these books are definitely the lighter side of vampire para-romance (versus the dark series like BDB and Midnight Breed, etc. or even for as poorly as they are written the Sizemore Prime books). I was a little shocked by the Zombie sub-plot. Not so much the existence of it, but the way it was resolved. I expected there to be more to it. But maybe more will come of the existence of Zombies in general in the next books.

John’s book subplot was really the worst part of this book. I get that John is likely to get his “Bees” (as Betsy calls them) back together or he’s going to try for revenge against Betsy as a result but please don’t subject me to that. Leave this subplot in the dust of this particular installment? Please? I would rather see way more of Sophie and Liam (although the way Liam handles that situation leaves me with questions…) Although, it was kind of funny to see that the title of the book was “undead and unwed” hehehe!

The steaminess continues to get better as the series progresses. It’s still no BDB, but they are enjoyable little scenes. And I like the development of Betsy – into someone not quite so “blond” (as another reviewer put it).

I also love the references to modern popular culture. I know some don’t – and some author’s don’t like to do it because it dates things (like one of the last of the “Prime” books I read had mention of a discman – wow, did that take me back!) but I loved the reference to Korben Dallas and the Fifth Element (I love that movie and am not ashamed to admit it!) – that earned a little ear marked page and I never ear mark pages!

I am looking forward to the wedding in this Series – maybe after that, we can get more romance for the other characters. Or just more “screen time” for the ones that are going on now (Jess and Nick would be a great perspective to see).

The writing is consistent with the rest of this series – I wouldn’t say it’s any better or any worse. The book was light hearted, funny, and a great escape from the seriousness of the contracts I was reviewing this morning. I am really bummed though that, from what I understand, undead and unwelcome is a new cover theme. I love the artwork on the series so far and I am totally NOT a fan of the cover I saw for that one.

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