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.
Anybody who has read my blog can probably figure out that I have developed an obsession with the writing of Ms. Molly Harper. Her creative world-building, fascinating characters, and wonderful sense of humor are just perfect for my taste. Then you add the epic narration from Amanda Ronconi and this book is a match made in heaven for a reader/listener like me.
The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires is the second book in Harper's spin-off series to her very popular and recently concluded Jane Jameson series. Basically, this series focuses on the citizens of our favorite small town, Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky, and how they react to the influx of vampire activity after the Great Coming Out in the late 20th century. Harper's vampires are fairly traditional in their mythology with the no sunlight, supernatural abilities, and blood drinking. But, what makes these creatures stand out is their ability to still interact with the human community. Most of the vampire characters are striving to live a normal life despite their undead status which makes for some interesting social commentary and, of course, tons of laughs.
Our heroine for this book is Iris Scanlon who was a minor character in the last Jane Jameson book, Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors. Iris is a resourceful young woman who has taken advantage of the emergence of the vampire community and set up a concierge business focused solely on vampire needs. She does everything for her clients from wedding planning to paper pushing to blood delivery. Another key part of Iris's character is that she has been raising her younger sister, Gigi, since their parents death five years earlier.
I loved Iris! She was so sarcastic and funny yet vulnerable which made her very relatable. The things she is forced to do in this book pretty out there and she deals with them in a fairly calm, rational manner that I admired. I love reading about normal people who are thrust into bizarre situations and Iris is a great example of that. Her intelligence and patience work wonders in her business and provides long-time Harper readers with a different kind of heroine from the lovable, but impulsive Jane.
The male protagonist for Care and Feeding... is an ancient vampire known as Cal who comes to the Hollow as a freelance consultant for the Council (the governing body for vampires). He comes into contact with Iris when he is poisoned by a batch of bad blood and must seek refuge from possible assassins. I really liked Cal with his snarky attitude and protective nature. He isn't going to replace Gabriel Nightengale as my favorite Harper boy, but he is up there. I loved seeing how close he got to Iris despite his claims that he is very good at remaining neutral while on a job.
As a couple, Iris and Cal were a blast to read about. Their chemistry is obvious from their first (bizarre) meeting and it just escalates from there. I love "cabin romances" when couples are forced to interact within a confined area for an extended period of time and this book provides a great example of that dynamic. While the attraction is pretty immediate, I liked how Harper showed these two getting to know each other as people. They reveal things to each other that were pretty intense which provided evidence of their growing intimacy. Despite their species difference, I can really seem them working as a long-term couple which is all I ask for in a romance.
And I would be amiss if I didn't mention another reason I really liked this book: Gigi Scanlon. Gigi is Iris's teenage sister and she was a hoot! She had her typical teenage girl drama moments, but readers can really see what a mature and intelligent young lady she is. Her relationship with Iris is very sweet and realistic. They get on each others' nerves, but, at the end, they are still family. Gigi's relationship with Cal is also pretty fun. I especially loved when his gets all "overprotective parent-like" when Gigi goes on a date.
The basic plot of the book, besides the romance, is trying to figure out who poisoned Cal. This involves a bigger storyline about vampires being overstimulated by a new blood substitute which causes tragic violence. Cal is hired to check out these attacks and is concerned that someone is trying to thwart his investigation. There were a lot of twists in this book and I was surprised by the ultimate culprit though it made sense in hindsight. This was definitely a page-turning plot that balanced well with the love story.
Overall, a great comedy with fun characters in a crazy world with plenty of intrigue and romance to make any paranormal fan happy. Great job, Ms. Harper, and I can't wait to see what you come up with next!
0.5. Driving Mr. Dead
1. The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires
1.5. "Undead Sublet" in The Undead in My Bed anthology
Jane Jameson series by Molly Harper
Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost