Posted on September 10, 2007 by Flames
Erin McCarthy’s Bled Dry, falls into the vampire chick-litesque category of paranormal romance. It chronicles the relationship between Brittany Baldizzi, a dentist, and Corbin Jean Michel Atelier, a french vampire DNA scientist who was turned in the 19th century, and has spent the last century or so looking for a cure to his vampirism. The novel is set in Las Vegas, a good choice for those with a nocturnal lifestyle, but McCarthy could have taken more advantage of her setting. Very little of the novel takes place in the swinging, neon-tinted, desert-heat-and-floorshow Vegas that I expected from the cover.
Brittany very much thinks of herself as the one mundane person surrounded by magical, unusual, exciting beings. Brittany is used to being in her sister Alexis’s shadow, a mere dentist to Alexis’s butt-kicking ex-prosecutor vampire. Alexis is married to Ethan, a politician vampire, who owns a casino on the Vegas Strip, and is running for the presidency of the Vampire nation.
Brittany is suddenly thrust into the spotlight when she learns that she’s pregnant. This would not be unusual, except that she has only had sex once in the past six months—a one-night-stand with Corbin, which should not result in pregnancy, since Corbin is a vampire. Corbin and Brittany have to then learn to communicate and make their relationship work, and save their baby from bog-standard gangster vampire baddies. Several major plot twists hinge upon Corbin’s ability to do DNA testing, revealing information about Brittany’s own parentage, and her baby’s abilities. Horror content is fairly minimal in this novel, with nothing more graphic than a run-of-the-mill Buffy episode.
This was a difficult novel for me to review, because although I enjoyed it well enough while reading it, the more I thought about it afterward, the more dissatisfied I grew with it. I found it very difficult to engage with the main characters. Perhaps this is because the plot demands that they be separated through much of the novel, for Brittany’s safety and that of her unborn baby. When they are together, they are rather awkward, which is to be expected to a certain degree, but their communication, as two very educated adults (a scientist and a dentist), should be better than it is.
Most romance heroes are “alpha male” types, whether through brains or brawn. Corbin is decidedly not an alpha male, and may indeed be the least dark, safest vampire out there, which makes sense since his greatest wish is to become human again. This may not be a problem for some readers, but Corbin was just too cute and fuzzy for me; I prefer my vampires to have a bit more of an edge. Brittany quite frankly annoyed me. McCarthy continually described her as being very independent and impulsive, but she only shows that impulsiveness when dealing with people she knows well. She spends much of the novel waiting around for Corbin to do something, rather than doing it herself, which works against describing her as independent. Her main goal is suburban bliss, settling down with her nebbish scientist ex-vampire husband, which is fine and worthy, but the novel is set up with the expectation of something a bit more escapist and exciting, and pulled in a far more conservative direction by the end.
The sexual tension that purportedly drives Brittany and Corbin together is lacking unless they are actually having sex, and they didn’t have sex often enough to keep me engaged. The sex scenes themselves are very well written, with one scene in the dressing room of a maternity store worthy of mention as particularly satisfying. Brittany and Corbin’s one night stand, we are told, was mind-blowingly good, but we aren’t shown the encounter itself until much later in the novel, in a truncated flashback.
To be fair, Brittany and Corbin weren’t my cup of tea; I was much more interested in Alexis and Ethan, whose story is told in her first Vegas Vampire novel, High Stakes. I’m guessing I’d like that book better, and I plan to check it out. It may well be that Bled Dry needs to be read as part of the series, which I failed to do. Bled Dry may be enjoyable for fans of the genre, but my feeling is that there are better examples out there. If you buy it, buy it for the sex scenes and skim the rest.
Reviewer: Lynne M. Thomas