VRC: Vampire Related Crimes: How To Elude A Vampire by Alice Winters
When the vampire stalking me sent me a letter, I was prepared for my new life with the man I love to get thrown into chaos. But as the days stretch on and nothing happens, I become determined not to allow that monster to rule my life, and decide that Marcus and I will move on. We can’t always allow the past to haunt us. If that includes pestering Marcus and harassing my fellow detectives, they’d better learn to love it, because I’m not going anywhere even if they like to remind me I’m the only human working in a department filled with vampires. But Marcus loves me for who I am, even if he’s not crazy about the cute pet names I call him like McBitey. Being with him is more than I could have dreamed, and even with the trials thrown in our way, he never fails to make me smile.
When Finn joined the VRC, I never expected how everything would change. Now that he’s the brightest part of my days, I’m unsure of how I existed without him. Before Finn and I can settle into our new life together, we’re called in as lead detectives when a body is found in the river, and the case soon hits closer to home than we anticipated. I want to be by Finn’s side to keep him safe, but at the same time, Finn’s fighting for the freedom he’s always wanted after being forced to live a life of fear. What I do know is that my future is with Finn, no matter what happens.
How to Elude a Vampire is the second in the VRC series and contains a display of manly prowess that doesn’t go as desired, reluctant bonding with a new pet, interfering with a snarky Russian’s love life, misuse of office supplies, a vampire with a killer fashion sense but very little game, a total lack of ancient kung fu powers, a feisty human who almost always gets his way and the possessive vampire who adores him.
How To Vex A Vampire left us with a huge cliffhanger. As I mentioned in my review of the first book, I got too excited about the second book and read the reviews. I learned the name of Finn’s stalker is Dollmaker.
HUGE clue right there.
So I spent the sequel anticipating the big reveal because I knew I was right.
Far from feeling that the book was predictable, I was actually enjoying it more because knowing this guy was close to Finn most of his life only made it more sinister. Mostly, I wanted to see how it would play out.
How To Elude A Vampire picks up six months after the events in the first book. Marcus and Finn are happy and have everything they need excerpt for that looming threat. They are now staying with Finn’s father, Orin, because his house is the most secure. Or so they thought.
A series of murders connected to the Dollmaker, attacks right inside Orin’s house, more warnings from the stalker to quit the VRC, and overly protective vampires drove Finn up the wall. He’s tired of living in fear and feeling controlled.
Nightmares that were actually memories revealed past events that led to Finn losing his arm and leg. We finally learn about Finn’s past as well as the history of vampires.
I loved how the vampires rally to protect Finn. My boy Karsyn grumps his way through the book but you could tell he’ll die for his human friend if needed. There’s a great addition of Claude, Marcus’s outrageously dressed, outrageously flirty, surprisingly smart brother, who latched on to a certain snarky Russian vampire. These two!!!
And we have Marcus. I have a better appreciation of Marcus here because six month earlier, he would have wrinkled his nose at the mere thought of interacting with humans. Now, this big bad vampire is so completely head over heels over his tiny human that he’s willing to make a fool of himself just to make him laugh. Witness another Date. Also, a lot of adorable mushy stuff.
Marcus trying to impress Finn ♡ (≧◡≦) !!!
With Finn and Marcus as an establish couple, the primary focus was the mystery. There were several nicely deployed plot twists that I didn’t see coming. There’s still a lot of snark and gags that were sometimes repetitive. There were many scenes where they completely ignored the pressing issue at hand just to exchange snarks. However, the plot moved at a fast pace and laid out Finn’s troubles in a way that kept me consistently engaged.
The build-up, the showdown and the comeuppance played out quick but intensely suspenseful. All throughout the scene, I was at the edge of my seat wondering how Finn is going make it out of there alive. But the man is smart and resourceful and resilient as fuck. That and Marcus.
How To Elude A Vampire gives us a happy end to Finn’s stalker woes. I kind of wish Finn was turned into a vampire just so he wouldn’t be injured so easily (and spare Marcus the agony of seeing the love of his life live die of old age while he gets to live forever <– my main issue with human + vampire couples) but that epilogue was super sweet.
I’m glad the author did not drag this stalker business out for several more books. I felt as relieved as Finn and just as ready to move on to happier matters.
Namely, Karsyn and Claude.
The VRC books are not standalones and should be read in order. Witness how a short, sassy human charmed a grumpy, confident, 300-year old vampire into the best worst date ever in How To Vex A Vampire. Review here.
Posts on Alice Winters books here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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VRC: Vampire Related Crimes: How To Vex A Vampire – Alice Winters
Getting into the vampire-only detective unit was the easy part; what’s going to be more difficult is dealing with my new partner, an ancient vampire who keeps threatening to eat me. The unit has never had a human in it, and Marcus—or as I like to call him, Fangy McFangface—would really prefer to keep it that way. He’s grumpy, short-tempered, and broody, but I have a way with words and I know he’s starting to like me, even if he swears he’s not. But what he doesn’t know is that I didn’t join the unit because I was tired of being a homicide detective, I joined because there is someone after me. They’ve already taken enough from me and I’m afraid they’re going to take all of me if I don’t find someone to help. That’s all Marcus was supposed to be, but now, he’s so much more and I can’t imagine my life without him.
The moment the pesky human walked through that door, I knew I had to get rid of him. He’s charming and almost everyone else instantly loves him, but he doesn’t understand how risky it is being part of this unit as a human. But as I get to know the stubborn man, I learn that perhaps he’s not as naive as I once thought. And maybe he’s what I needed to realize there is more to life than just work and my dog. A group arises who is threatening to disrupt the alliance between the humans and the vampires, but Finn is the one who shows me how strong that alliance can be and reminds me why it’s worth protecting. When threats hit closer to home, I realize I would do anything for Finn because he’s brought so much joy to my life—and because he’s mine.
This 105k word book contains: A creative use for undergarments, unintentional splits, a wolfhound who just wants to be a part of things, a vertically challenged human who still manages to wrap every vampire he meets around his little finger, the best date ever, possessiveness, really awkward dancing, some workplace revenge, and just a bite or two. Or three.
I have read about three Alice Winters books so far, the first Hitman’s Guide story and the two In The Mind installments. I noticed that her pairings usually come in the form of a persistent, outgoing, flirty lead pestering a stoic, reserved, grumpy love interest who secretly enjoys the pestering but doing his manly best to resist. I’m enjoying the heck out of these chases especially when the other shoe drops.
How To Vex A Vampire is another paranormal offering set in a world where vampires are free to mingle among humans after a bloody history of persecution and deaths. The VRC is a police department who handles any case related to vampires.
Finn finally managed to get himself into the department, something he worked hard and schemed hard to achieve for entirely very personal reasons. He was partnered with the notorious Marcus Church, a vampire detective known for his gruff manners.
The book presents several mysteries. First is the case of a murdered female vampire and a drug that drives vampires into a feeding frenzy. There’s also a hooded ancient vampire stalking Finn for more than a decade. They know next to nothing about this entity but this is the only thing that puts real fear into the heart of the spunky Finnegan Hayes.
The two MCs hinted at some secrets of their own. Marcus’s true status as a vampire is not known to most. Finn had to make a few educated guesses. The biggest mystery of all might be Finn himself. What makes this little human so special that high-level vampires rally to protect him?
I love Finn! Finn is, in Marcus’s words, a tiny, fragile human. He lost an arm and a leg from a car accident. He now wears high-tech prosthesis, something Finn goes out of his way not to advertise. Our boy is out to prove that he can stand toe to toe with big bad vampires. He has proven again and again that he can. He’s a man on a mission to kill a very specific vampire. Meanwhile, he’s also hellbent on pursuing one other bloodsucker…
Poor Marcus tried to put up immovable walls but alas. As the two detectives go about finding the bad guys and before he even realized it, Marcus was swept away by the unstoppable force that is Finn. It was a lot of fun to watch! Check out The Date.
The book stands out for its humor. It does not have the exhausting hyperactive wackadoodle antics of The Hitman’s Guide. It has a more toned down but still OTT snark for snark exchange that is as funny but not as overwhelming.
There’s suspense and a lot of action but the focus here is on the character interactions and romantic development. The police procedural aspect might not be the most realistic or even accurate but still procedural enough for us to feel these guys are doing their jobs.
The VRC series has a great cast to work with, many of them memorable. So it’s no surprise that a couple of supporting characters have books of their own, like my grumpy Russian, Karsyn, and nice guy, DeGray. I’m excited to get to their stories.
This series opener ends with a cliffhanger so we will be continuing the hunt on the second book. Finn has now charmed enough vampires to form an army. One very vexed vampire is right in front, ready to tear the world apart for him.
Time to end this elusive ancient threat!
And so because I got too excited for book 2, I read some reviews and learned the name of this mysterious stalker vampire is Doll Maker. This is giving me ideas! Could it be him?!
Posts on Alice Winters works here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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Garnet Run: Better Than People – Roan Parrish
It’s not long before their pet-centric arrangement sparks a person-centric desire…
Simon Burke has always preferred animals to people. When the countdown to adopting his own dog is unexpectedly put on hold, Simon turns to the PetShare app to find the fluffy TLC he’s been missing. Meeting a grumpy children’s book illustrator who needs a dog walker isn’t easy for the man whose persistent anxiety has colored his whole life, but Jack Matheson’s menagerie is just what Simon needs.
Four dogs, three cats and counting. Jack’s pack of rescue pets is the only company he needs. But when a bad fall leaves him with a broken leg, Jack is forced to admit he needs help. That the help comes in the form of the most beautiful man he’s ever seen is a complicated, glorious surprise.
Being with Jack—talking, waking, making out—is a game changer for Simon. And Simon’s company certainly…eases the pain of recovery for Jack. But making a real relationship work once Jack’s cast comes off will mean compromise, understanding and lots of love.
Peopling is something Jack Matheson has no patience for. Social gatherings and small talks were things he particularly avoided. Betrayed by a friend and recently injured by a bad fall, he spent his days moping while his brother, Charlie tried to coax him out of it.
One day, Jack got on Petshare, an app that matches a pet owner to a person interested in helping out with pets. It matched him with one very intriguing person named Simon Burke.
Peopling comes hard to Simon Burke. Having crippling anxiety where words stuck in his throat whenever he tries to talk to new people pretty much guarantees a solitary life with his grandmother as his only friend in the world. It took all his courage to knock on Jack’s door so that he could walk the dogs. Little did he know, their grumpy human would change his life.
As somebody who’s as socially awkward as they come, Jack and Simon are my people so I was immediately drawn to them. Having preference for furry, four-legged creatures over walking, talking two-legged ones is another point in their favor.
Simon’s condition was difficult. The author really did a good job making you feel his struggle to say something as simple as thank you. While I was reading it, I wondered, how does one even handle that level of anxiety? The amount of courage to push through the fear is extraordinary. Simon Burke is one of the strongest book person I know. I also loved that this shy man who struggles with words has a delightful streak of snark.
Jack might have anger and trust issues but he is kind. He noticed right away that Simon has words roiling inside that he couldn’t get out. He found ways for them to communicate. He was patient and gentle. He knew how to listen to the unspoken.
The story has the right amount of slow burn to allow the attraction to blossom into a sweet romance amidst challenging circumstances. They were both fiercely independent individuals who’s trying to make it through life alone. I loved the way they gradually became part of each other’s lives.
Drawing is a key element in the story. Jack is a children’s book illustrator and Simon is a graphic artist. His friend’s betrayal affected Jack so much he has not drawn for 8 months. It was Simon who helped him get his mojo back.
One of the heroes of this book is Charlie. He and Jack were orphaned when he was 17. He sacrificed so much to provide for his younger brother. Even as adults, he still selflessly cares for Jack despite Jack’s surly attitude. He was patient with Simon. He understood what it’s like to wake up fearing the day ahead. He is a sweetheart and he deserves his own happy ending.
I am thrilled that my soft, magical boy, Corbin Wale gets a much deserved homage. Jack is a huge fan of him. The way Jack described his drawings takes me back to his amazing book.
Better Than People is set in the same world as The Remaking of Corbin Wale. It charms you with the same whimsical writing though less dreamlike. While The Remaking of Corbin Wale has a surreal, magical realism vibe, this book is more realistic and angsty. It is also did not have quite the same intensity. I love this book but I wasn’t as swept away as I was with its predecessor.
Nonetheless, I highly recommend reading this after reading Corbin Wale’s story. The two can be read as standalones but Roan Parrish creates wonderful stories of soft boys made of sighs, spice, and steel, it’s always a pleasure to meet them all.
Read my love for Corbin here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of Better Than People. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.