Friday, 22 July 2011

Book Review: The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters by Sierra Dean

Title: The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters
Author: Sierra Dean
Release Date: 19 July 2011
Number of pages: 79 pages
Publisher: Samhain
Series: Book #0.5 in the Secret McQueen series
Source: e-ARC provided by author
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon

Grade: 5 stars

Novellus perfectus!

Goodreads appetizer: Are blind dates supposed to be this bloody?

A Secret McQueen Story

They say it's impossible to find a man in New York City. Secret McQueen needs to find two in one night. Of course, it’ll mean pulling off the impossible—find and kill a displaced rogue vampire without disrupting the first promising date she’s had in ages. As a werewolf hybrid used to walking a fine line of survival in the vampire world, though, Secret eats impossible for breakfast.

Somewhere between hello and the first round of drinks, Secret makes her move. Her target, Hollywood’s biggest star, shouldn’t be hard to spot. Just look for swarms of fans. Except every time her vampire liaison, Holden, helps keep her mission on track, her date runs further off the rails.

Either Holden has a hidden agenda, or he knows more than he’s letting on about her quarry. One way or another, Secret is determined to get her man, and meet Mr. Right. Or die trying.

Warning: This book contains a sword-wielding assassin whose barbs are sharper than her blade, a vampire with serious brooding issues but a skilled tongue, and an A-lister with a bad habit of eating his fans. This novella takes place approximately one year prior to the events of Something Secret This Way Comes.

My Thoughts: As my enthusiasm was quite exuberant, you must know how much I luurved Sierra Dean’s debut novel, the first book in the Secret McQueen series: Something Secret This Way Comes (but if you somehow managed to miss it, you can find my fan girl-like gushing review here).

So after loving Something Secret This Way Comes to pieces I have to say it wasn’t easy for Sierra Dean to floor me as my expectations were skyscraper high, but she not only met but even surpassed them!

The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters reminded me after the very first few lines why I was that ecstatic after reading the first book. Everything which made Something Secret This Way Comes the outstanding read it is was back in The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters: Secret’s acerbicly sarcastic and dry humoured narrative, Sierra Dean’s fluent writing, the fast-paced action scenes, the chuckle out loud one liners, the ping-pong verbal repartees and of course the swoonworthy man candy :-D

Secret is a fantastic and very entertaining heroine. Her fresh and sassy narrative voice guarantees the reader will have a great time - just a few examples so you see I’m telling the truth:

When introducing herself and talking about her double (werewolf-vampire) heritage:

… my human cells were attacked and infected with the vampire disease. The trauma activated the werewolf genes already dormant within me, and voila- cute, perky and totally bloodthirsty.

I may have been a twenty-one-year-old woman, single in the city, but I douldn’t wrap my head around getting into the dating scene.
It wasn’t like I was worried about eating my boyfriend or anything.
Well, most of the time. Every girl has her days.

In The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters Secret goes on a blind date, but of course her life is anything but simple, so she tries to juggle exterminating a rogue vampire and charming the cute guy; well basically just trying to keep her professional and private life separate :-)

If I timed everything right, I would leave him holding our place while I looked for a bathroom, or some other invented distraction. Then I could run off, kill him and be back before Tyler made it to the front of the line. If I didn’t get too much blood on me, there might even be a good-night kiss in my future. I was a genius.

One of the things I loved the most about The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters was that a character who was rather a supporting character in Something Secret This Way Comes got promoted and got his time in the spotlight! And wow! I have to say with all the delicious men in Something Secret This Way Comes, I wasn’t that focused on Holden in the first book, but now I see him in a completely different light. I will not spoil anything if I tell you that he is the one whose skilled tongue you are warned about, and believe me that warning is needed! There is one scene, one very hot kissing scene which packs more heat and sparks than sex scenes do in other novels. It is a scene which will give you goosebumps and triple your heart rate. A scene which will make you pant and sigh. Yes, it is that good.

I also loved the thrilling action, the exciting fight scenes (come on: who wouldn't enjoy reading about a petite blonde girl battling 6ft tall bulky vampire body guards with a huge and mean looking katana (=Japanese sword)? Very very cool :-p ).

Verdict: What amazed me in The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters was that even though it is a novella it still managed to give an interesting plot, with the story having a beginning, middle and end part, as well as well fleshed out characters, which let’s be honest is no simple feat considering the length restrictions. I am usually left wanting and unsatisfied at the end of novellas, always feeling like 1) it was too rushed, or 2) that it wasn’t developed/detailed enough. I had none of these complaints with The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters. It was a story in its own right, and what a story!

The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters is not heavy on the past character introductions, you won’t feel suffocated by too much info-dump, and it can be read as a prequel without having any prior knowledge of the series and enjoyed by seasoned fans of Secret as well.

A must read for all urban fantasy fans!

Plot: 10/10
Characters: 10/10
Ending: 9/10 - I would have liked it to go on a bit more ;-p
Writing: 10/10
Cover: 10/10 - cover perfection! It doesn't get any better than this. Atmospheric to the story, true to the character, suits the novella wonderfully.

This review was originally posted on The Book Lovers Inc.

Order of the series:

#0.5 The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters
#1 Something Secret This Way Comes - read my review here
#2 A Bloody Good Secret - to be released on 20 September 2011

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