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Instead of using some fortuitous free days to write Very Serious Professional Book reviews, I wrote the following plot summary of [livejournal.com profile] blackholly's new book, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

IN A WORRRRRRRRRLD where vampires walk the earth and people have had to get used to this fact and deal with it, vampirism is not an instant result of getting bitten. First you get bitten, then you get infected--go "Cold"--then you get an insatiable craving for human blood. If you drink it, you die and go full-on vampire. If you don't, you endure a terrible lengthy recovery period full of hallucinations and shakes and eventually you get better. In response to massive outbreaks caused by a rogue vampire named Caspar Morales about ten years before our story starts, cities with high outbreak incidences were quarantined. These have remained so ever since, and are known as Coldtowns. Over the past ten years, they have become cities of the night, where vampires and humans have a spectrum of uneasy and mostly unhealthy relationships involving blood. Also they party a lot! The vampire parties are the subject of much curiosity, and some of them are streamed live on the Internet. It's a glamorous, exclusive world--if you can get in.

Our story starts at another party. To be precise, it starts the unglamorous morning after a party, when Our Heroine wakes up in a bathtub and finds all the other attendees dead as vampire-drained doornails. That is, all the attendees except her ex-boyfriend, who has clearly been nommed on a little and is tied up in company with an also-tied-up vampire. Night starts to fall! Murderous vampires are at the door! They want their vampire boytoy and their snack.

Tana, being a sensible heroine, fetches a getaway vehicle and rescues the boys by alternately untying them, shoving them out windows, and threatening to beat them with a tire iron.

AIDAN, THE EX-BOYFRIEND: I’m too pretty to d—wait, no, once I’m dead I’ll be extra pretty and glamorous and also a vampire. Please let me drink your blood? So I can be beautiful and undead?
TANA, OUR HEROINE: So help me, before I let that happen I will beat you to death with this tire iron and then you won’t even be pretty.
TANA: We’re going to the nearest Coldtown, where you can either sweat out the infection or at least not be a menace to society when you succumb to it.
GAVRIEL, THE VAMPIRE: lol, he can have some of my blood until we get to Coldtown, it won’t turn him. Please don’t hit me, I am already exhausted and injured. I mean, I’m pretty sure I could still duck in time, and also I could tear your throat out at any moment, but I’d rather you didn’t.
TANA: Fine, but Aidan’s driving so I can keep an eye on him. And you’re riding in the trunk.
GAVRIEL: ROAD TRIP!

GAVRIEL: What I’m not telling you is that I’m the legendary Thorn of Istra—kind of like a vampire assassin, I’m supposed to be policing unauthorized new vampires—anyway I spent the last ten years being imprisoned and tortured for not killing the vampire who got out of hand and started this whole epidemic. So I’m highly dangerous and more than a little insane. Quite the looker, though!

TANA: What I’m not telling you is that as we were escaping out the window, I think one of the hostile vamps got me in the leg and I’m probably going to go Cold any time in the next forty-eight hours and start demanding blood too. My mother went Cold when I was a wee child and tried to eat me and I really, really don't want to be a monster.

With the specters of Aidan’s bloodlust and Tana’s impending Coldness hanging over them, to say nothing of the vampire in the trunk, they commence a road trip to the nearest Coldtown. On the way, they pick up twin hitchhiking bloggers named Midnight and Winter (of course they are).

MIDNIGHT: We’re going to become vampires! And we’re going to liveblog the process!
TANA: Are. You. Completely. Insane.
WINTER: It could be worse. At least we won’t be sixteen forever. Instead, we’ll be almost eighteen. Forever.
TANA: I’m going to leave you to your madness and try to find some clothes that aren’t covered in blood.

(In the Last Truck Stop Before Coldtown, with a booming vampire tourism vibe, finding clothes that aren’t covered in blood is harder than you might think.)

They present Gavriel to the Coldtown guards in exchange for one Get Out of Coldtown Free token, just in case Tana isn’t infected after all, and hit the Coldtown streets at dawn.

GAVRIEL: I must leave you now, that I may take my revenge on the one who betrayed me. But--one kiss ere I go?
TANA: Revenge is sexy, in a simmering kind of way. Are you really a crazed assassin? …actually, I totally believe that you are a crazed assassin.
TANA: I’m a little disturbed by my predilection for things dark and dangerous, but what the hell. Kiss me again, you vampire fool!
GAVRIEL: I am also a little disturbed by your predilection for things dark and dangerous! But it cannot be denied that you are an exceptionally good kisser. Gavriel out!

In the one flaw in this otherwise magnificent book, Gavriel stays out for the next two hundred pages, except in flashbacks that don’t have Tana in them. I’m certainly not complaining about the heroine-performing-heroics-and-trying-to-save-people-and-not-becoming-a-monster plot; I’m just saying that the romance suffers a little bit when your romantic leads spend more narrative time apart than together, and not in a pining kind of way.

On the other hand, the whole no-pining business is super refreshing. And anyway, Tana’s more than got her hands full dealing with Aidan and the would-be vampire bloggers (that’s a terrible band name) and their internet friends.

INTERNET FRIENDS: You can totally stay at our place! Have something to drink. Sit down and stay a while! Enjoy being locked in a room with Aidan the blood junkie!
INTERNET FRIENDS: Once he’s drunk your blood and become a vampire, he’ll bite us and we can become vampires too!
TANA: Oh my God, this is why you shouldn’t trust everyone you meet on the Internet.
MIDNIGHT: It’s a great plan! What could possibly go wrong?

(Later)

MIDNIGHT: Shit, I just drained my brother. There goes my sanity.

Luckily, Tana has by this point escaped out the skylight and made some new friends in the form of a self-appointed helper of strays named Jameson and his crush Valentina, a transgender thrift shopgirl. Unluckily, she has left her Get Out of Coldtown Free token with Aidan and now has to get it back. Where to look? Why, the most decadent, the most dangerous, the most live-feed-watched party of all. The mansion of Lucien Moreau. Dun dun dun!

TANA: Well, shit.

And then shit, as they say, gets real.

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