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Monday, October 1, 2012

‘The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires’ Half Moon Hollow #2 by Molly Harper

From the BLURB:

Iris Scanlon, Half-Moon Hollow’s only daytime vampire concierge, knows more about the undead than she’d like. Running all their daylight errands—from letting in the plumber to picking up some chilled O neg—gives her a look at the not-so-glamorous side of vampire life. Her rules are strict; relationships with vamps are strictly business, not friendship—and certainly not anything else. But then she finds her newest client, Cal, poisoned on his kitchen floor, and only Iris can help.

Cal - who would be devastatingly sexy, if Iris allowed herself to think that way - offers Iris a hefty fee for hiding him at her place until he figures out who wants him permanently dead. Even though he’s imperious, unfriendly and doesn't seem to understand the difference between "employee" and "servant," Iris agrees, and finds herself breaking more and more of her own rules to help him - particularly those concerning nudity.

Turns out what her quiet little life needed was some intrigue & romance—in the form of her very own stray vampire.

Iris Scanlon likes her life to be organized, clean and managed. It comes after a life of curveballs – like her parent’s sudden death, and becoming her younger sister, Gigi’s, sole guardian. So in all things, Iris prefers organization over chaos . . . Which is how she fell into her current business, Beeline. It’s all about management and arranging other people’s lives for them; vampire’s lives, to be more precise.

Iris is a personal daytime assistant to all of Half Moon Hollow’s vampires – she takes care of those pesky labourers who insist working daylight hours, and delivers bloody snacks. Then there’s the occasional oddball request, like dietary condom requirements. But those are as curvy a curveball as Iris can handle these days, thank you very much. That is until she, literally, stumbles across Cletus 'Cal' Calix, passed out and poisoned on his own kitchen floor.

As it would turn out, Cal is a vampire who specializes in finding and figuring things out. He has been called to Half Moon Hollow to investigate a slew of incidences in which humans have been attacked by otherwise friendly vampires. Cal was suspecting poisoned blood so, lo and behold!, when he finds himself poisoned he knows he’s on the right track . . .  unfortunately, advertising his near-undeath experience (and rescue by Ms. Scanlon) would be the quickest way to derail his investigation.

So Cal comes up with a plan. A plan to stay with Iris Scanlon, lying low at the (very) humble home she shares with little sis, Gigi. While there he’ll continue conducting his investigations, in secret, and with minimal distractions (like some pesky villain trying to kill him). The one thing Cal didn’t exactly count on was Iris becoming a very pesky, pretty, and perfectly delicious distraction. . .

‘The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires’ is the second book in Molly Harper’s ‘Half Moon Hollow series’, a spin-off of her ‘Jane Jameson’ series.

Oh, wow. What a shock. Molly Harper has written yet another brilliant and hilarious chuckle-fest of epically awesome proportions. Colour me surprised . . . Or, not, sine I decided about six books ago that Molly Harper could do no wrong and was physically incapable of writing anything subpar. ‘The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires’ is just another notch in Harper’s continually impressive comedy belt.

Iris Scanlon is a familiar face, to those who are making the trek from ‘Jane Jameson’. She was the wedding coordinator who helped tone down Jane’s matrimonial farce from horror-story to love-story in ‘Nice Girls Don’t Bite Their Neighbours’. And she was mentioned in the first ‘Half Moon Hollow’ spin-off ‘Driving Mr. Dead’, Miranda Puckett worked as chauffeur for Iris’s Beeline company. So Iris is long overdue for her page-time, and let me tell you she was well worth the wait. . .

Iris is a really interesting character and old before her time. She’s had to grow up fast, since her parents died leaving her little sister, Gigi, in her care. She doesn’t have a lot of time for things like fun, relationships or relaxation. Her Beeline business is barely breaking even, and even though Gigi is her top priority, university fees are creeping ever closer. So when Cal proposes the ludicrously dangerous proposition that he hide out in her home, along with the lucrative offer of monetary compensation, she agrees, but only begrudgingly.

Iris and Cal were fantastic together. He’s very much a stone-faced, no-nonsense investigative vampire. In fact, he was a Spartan in another life (or, as Iris likes to think of it, his life was like the movie ‘300’ – complete with flattering diaper-wear). Iris, on the other hand, while very straight-laced and organized, is also a chocolate-hording, pop-culture referencing tour-de-force. She’s hilarious, and when paired with Cal’s straight-guy they get a fantastic routine going and some wonderful repartee. They’re especially interesting because, while Iris works for them, she hasn’t ever really spent a lot of time in the company of vampires. She’s inordinately fascinated by Cal’s many stories of years gone by;

“You’re telling me that the guy who wrote the Iliad is a vampire?”
“Yes, and he has been writing all these years. He makes a very nice living out in Los Angeles, working on television shows.”
“If you tell me that Homer wrote for Two and a Half Men, I will throw myself out of that window.”
He chuckled. But I noticed that he did not answer.

Funny as they are, Cal and Iris’s laughs are only matched by their heat. These two are adorable; an unlikely, opposites attract can’t-deny-this-feeling-any-longer relationship that’s seriously hot when it gets going.

Iris and her sister, Gigi, are the other laugh-riot of this novel. They’re a nice change from the other sister relationship Molly Harper writes, between Jane and Jenny – who have battled about everything from Jane’s vampirism to who gets their grandma’s estate once she dies. Iris and Gigi only have each other left, so they have come to treasure one another and create this great amalgamation of a sisterly relationship that’s sometimes parental but mostly about them being best friends. And they share some of the best scenes in the whole novel, like the following debate about Iris’s unhealthy, blind obsession with Gerard Butler;

“I have an inappropriate loyalty to Gerard Butler,” I grumbled, shutting the door behind us.
“OK, but did you have to buy it on DVD?” Gigi chuckled.
“It was a Christmas gift. Uncle Clark grabs the DVD with the silliest cover and wraps it,” I shot back, climbing into the driver’s seat of the Dorkmobile. “I am willing to admit that Gerard Butler has single-handedly murdered the romantic comedy.”
Gigi snickered. “Gerard Butler took the romantic comedy to an orgy, accidentally strangled it during an air game, panicked, and dumped its body in the woods.”
I stared at her, gobsmacked. “That may be the funniest thing I've ever heard –” I spluttered. “How the hell do you even know what an air game is?”
Gigi preened. “Just because you put the parental locks on HBO doesn’t mean I can’t get around them.”

Ohhhhhh, Molly Harper. I have such a literary crush on this gal, and with every new book I just fall a little more in love. ‘The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires’ continues the love-fest.


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