Sunday, 1 March 2009

Darkness Calls by Caridad Pineiro

I felt sorry for the hero Ryder. Turned during the Civil War, he feels attracted to FBI Agent Diana, a woman who at 19 years old “recovered from the heartache of a long-term relationship gone sour” by going on a 6-month bender and getting a tattoo. Similar to 17 y.o Bella falling “irrevocably” in love with Edward. Ryder will probably struggle to cope with her yakking about inane trivialitities 24/7 on her cell. There’s a lot about 21st century living that really isn’t particularly attractive. But I suppose enough people are happy with it.

I stopped being a fan of cop shows ever since I read the pathetically low crime-solving statistics of most police forces. Which was after the first series of Law and Order which I loved. But also I behave in completely safe ways so I just don’t meet much crime. Most fictional agents I read about, like the heroine in this novel, have super-confidence in their abilities. And they show it. I prefer the subtleties of Colombo. Now he was confident enough to let the perps think he was a bumbling idiot. Great. Did I mention the Rampart business? Hilarious. Unless you’re in the position where you actually rely on these people to uphold the law.

No such nuances in this story. The heroine continues to be a pain. She feels instinctive trust for a man who socks her on the jaw…because he’s handsome. And then feels disappointed because he doesn’t follow through on a promise he clearly made under duress. Ryder isn’t a suspect. Yet her response to his non-appearance at the police station is to threaten a warrant of arrest. Being a cop of any sort requires a lot better people-skills than that nowadays. Diana’d struggle with any kind of big investigation. She’s totally one-dimensional. And for a cop to have a relationship with a possible suspect should be completely out of order.

I also hated the food scenes. Perfectly acceptable if you’re a successful middle-aged romance-writing blimp. But to eat “a plate of pasta swimming in olive oil topped with prawn-size shrimp” in your mid-20s is just too gross for words. An invitation to obesity. The way the vampire hero forces himself to chomp down garlic-bread (another hello to cardiac arrest in later years) because the heroine likes it made me lose empathy with the putz.

Generally this is a novel in which there is only minimal demarcation between work and personal life. So about half of the relationship building between Ryder and Diana goes on while she is miked up. And when those two get down to it for the first time; of course her work partner David knows she’s done the deed just by looking at her. Not that it’s really any of his business. I’ve met women like Diana. Having chosen a career in a predominantly male environment they slowly work their way through their colleagues and/or supervisors. One after the other. The work-place psychologist also gets told by Diana about her encounter with Ryder. I squirmed. In the end I just so wanted Diana to get fired or re-assigned to traffic duty. It was painful reading about her bumbling around the case.

I lost my remaining empathy for vampire Ryder when he drank from Diana during sex without telling her what he was doing. Dumb bunny Diana just accepted his story that she’d passed out from excitement!!!! Ok. She’s unlikely to realise Ryder is a vampire. But if she was any kind of real cop she’d have thought that maybe he’d given her some kind of drug and videotaped their session. Actually. From that moment on I thought Diana had a lot in common with the hookers the BDB used to drink from before they fell in love with their chosen females.

However I persevered with the novel. Until page 202 where the grisly torture of Ryder began. Isn’t it strange how modern female authors struggle to portray the deep emotion of love but are so effective at writing about excruciating pain. I don’t buy a romance to read that kind of thing. I checked out at that point. Silhouette should warn gentle readers such as myself about R-rated scenes appearing in their novels. They didn’t. So I will. Avoid like the plague unless you enjoyed the Hannibal Lector movies. But maybe that is the modern young female romance reader.( I wouldn’t be surprised.)

Final word. Of course a talented author could have carried me along to the end of the story despite the torture. But so much of the novel before page 202 was just cack. Ryder is an interesting relationship for Diana. That will probably last 1 year, max, and then she'll move on to the next relationship. Despite that. I can see why the book was successful. Vampires, sex, torture…all for 50c. Excluding p&p. From Amazon marketplace. (And 100% reliable so far…unlike abe where too often I get sent the wrong books.) Just didn’t like the characters much. …Now Melissa and Ryder would have had a much more interesting relationship.

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