As I loved Sierra Dean's debut novel 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 with 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 fan!
The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters just as Book #1 deserves the 5 stars honours!