Tuesday, April 22, 2008

High Stakes - Erin McCarthy


High Stakes
A Tale of Vegas Vampires
Erin McCarthy
Berkley Sensation

Paranormal Romance

Ethan Carrick is running for re-election as President on a sort of law-and-order platform. But he’s no ordinary politician. For one thing, no TV camera could photograph him. He’s a 900-year-old vampire and Vegas casino owner. His voters are members of the Vampire Nation, a group created to keep the vampire population under control, keep order, and teach new vampires how to sustain themselves without leaving a trail of bodies. The one thing he lacks at the moment is an appropriate First Lady. He thinks he’s found the perfect woman in dentist Brittany Baldizzi. He’s so wrong, in so many ways.

Alexis Baldizzi, Brittany’s older, and very protective, sister, is a prosecutor. She doesn’t find it at all humorous that her sweet, naïve, little sister is shacked up with some casino owner. When she arrives at the casino to drag Brittany home, she gets the vampire report. She doesn’t believe it, of course. It’s just a bunch of people who like to play dress-up and drink red wine. It’s not too surprising that gullible Brittany believes it, though. Then Brittany drops the next bombshell: she doesn’t want to leave. She wants to stay and save the vampires from themselves.

At the end of her rope, Alexis proposes a trade. She’ll hang out with Ethan and his role-playing friends for a week, provided Brittany leaves. And that’s where things really get interesting. Because Ethan and his friends really are vampires. And Ethan has a political adversary who doesn’t play nice. In point of fact, he hired an assassin. And Brittany just cannot resist the impulse to try and save the vampires. Let the games begin.

This is the first in a series of (so far) four novels. It’s an interesting take on vampires. While there is definitely some brooding going on, there’s a lot more humor, verbal sparring, and political maneuvering. Alexis is smart and stubborn and not prone to swooning, which is great in a paranormal romance heroine. Ethan is able to loosen up and see the humor in things through her. As a pair, they’re very nicely matched. There’s a very interesting subplot playing out, too. I’m hoping to see lots more of these characters in future installments.

Rating: 7
January 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-21978-2 (paperback)

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