With Kerrelyn Sparks' vampire stories you know what you get - a group of nice and honourable vampires, many of whom are Scottish, working against the 'Malcontents', a rival group of vampires who are killers. You also tend to get a heroine (or in one case hero) who is human and who doesn't get turned into a vampire by the end of the book because they don't want to be one (rather awkward when each book sets out the advantages of vampirism). As this is book number 5 in the series the cast of characters has widened and we meet most of those from previous books, catching up a little with their lives, but this story is written in such a way that a reader could start with this book and still follow what's going on.
Ian MacPhie had rather a problem in the previous books - the fact that he was turned into a vampire aged 15 and so has permanently youthful looks. However, as briefly mentioned in a previous book, he has realised that Roman Draganesti's "Stay-Awake Potion" (which enables a vampire to stay awake during the daytime but has the side effect of aging them a year per day) might help him to look older and so he's been taking it. In this story we learn that Ian has had 12 days with the Stay-Awake potion and now looks like a 27-year-old. This causes some confusion as many people don't recognise him but it also has another unexpected benefit - that women start chasing him around.
Ian's not looking for a short-term relationship, however; he wants what some of his friends have got, a long-term permanent relationship. Only he knows a relationship with a mortal won't be satisfactory so he joins an online dating site to try to reach vampires. As most of the calls are from humans and come in during his daytime sleep one of the daytime guards, newly-appointed Toni Davis, ends up having to deal with telephone calls and women camping outside to get a glimpse of him.
Toni's motives for becoming a daytime guard are somewhat suspect and Ian begins to wonder if there's more to it than she explains. As Ian and Toni spend time together he realises she has secrets, ones she isn't willing to share with a vampire. Toni's friend Carlos is also rather unusual. Can Toni rescue her friend Sabrina with Ian's help? Can Ian find the perfect Vampire consort? Can Toni's lifelong dreams be accommodated to her new reality?
As with the other books, this is a light but pleasant read. The Christmas theme in the book is fairly understated and in fact could have been dispensed with altogether without anyone noticing. The actual plot in this story at times dragged a little and the bad guys were forever teleporting away when things got interesting, but overall it was a good enough read for a relaxing afternoon.
Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2008