Each story begins with the text of the ad leading to the initial blind date between the principals. While at least one of the parties involved always has *something* unusual about them, vampirism is only one of the possibilities. Some tales are told from the viewpoint of the person placing the ad, some from the opposing view, and some by interested third parties.
The four ads incorporated into the cover art of the first U.S. paperback printing are from actual stories herein.
Braunbeck, Gary A.: "Starless and Bible Black" have been the colour of many nights in Wayne's life; his parents are gone, he's never had a steady girlfriend. But he's conjured one woman's image in his dreams so vividly, for so long, that she's become *almost* real - she just needs his help to take the last few steps...helping her free herself from the handful of others whose shared image of her helped give her substance.
Crowther, Peter: "Bernard Boyce Bennington and the American Dream" revolves around a neighbourhood bar in New York: the Land at the End of the Working Day, where the regulars know how to drown out unwanted sounds. "No sound truly dies - particularly the sound of an unanswered question." The title character is looking for a woman from the personals who promises change, but won't take anyone back after dropping them.
Davis, R.: "A Kiss at Midnight" The narrator has responded to a personals ad from an attractive single woman looking for a one-night stand. He should've asked why she needed an *ad* for that, but as a widower who can't stop looking for a relationship to match what he lost, he's deliberately seeking to guide his expectations into more reasonable channels. To make matters interesting, both parties have misjudged themselves and what they want, while being honest in answering their respective ads.
de Lint, Charles: "Trading Hearts at the Half Kaffe Cafe" Lyle wants to meet someone for whom each day is important, someone who isn't as jaded as the other werewolves he knows, so he's heading out for his first date with Mona. (It's fun to watch their respective roommates kibitzing as they get ready; in Lyle's case, Tyrone a) thinks this is a bit perverted, and b) helpfully mentions that Lyle's teeth start morphing a little when he gets nervous. And you thought *you* had first date nerves. Mona's roommate is full of how-to-make-conversation advice from her current reading.)
Friesner, Esther M.: "Werotica" As usual, Friesner's entry is the likeliest to make you laugh. :) Many of the other personals ads in this collection feature people sending coded messages to each other, but Weylin's ad's hints about werewolves were unintentional. Chanetta, unfortunately, is a werewolf groupie, and won't be satisfied until she sees Weylin's *true* self. Weylin's a mundane financial analyst, but Chanetta has given him some very memorable evenings in their brief relationship; what can he do, since she won't believe his protests?
Hoffman, Nina Kiriki: Brenda (the narrator) and her friends read the personals for laughs, but on a whim they take "Secret Identities" and answer one of them ("Wizard Seeks Witch") to settle a disagreement over which girl will get an answer. Brenda's answer contains some hidden truths she's not ready to discuss with her friends, though.
Huff, Tanya: After ending his relationship with Vicki, Henry Fitzroy places an ad seeking "Someone to Share the Night". There *really* ought to be a special section of the personals for the people of the night...
Reichert, Mickey Zucker: "Personals Wishes" begins with a meeting between strangers on a train, but in this case, the mysterious stranger's question is, what would the personals ad of your fantasy mate look like? (Told in 3rd person but inside the viewpoint of one character at a time, through 3 viewpoints in all.)
Rusch, Kristine Kathryn: "Folk Lure" Told in 1st person by the next-door neighbour of the woman responding to the ad, a PI who uses the personals extensively in his own bread-and-butter work of divorce investigation. But why would gorgeous M Folklorist use the personals?
Sinor, Bradley H.: "Fireflies" is a metaphor appearing often in this story. Miranda, a member of the Pack living in New York, sees both the lights of Manhattan and the lives among those lights as fireflies - brief lives that vanish once touched. But Miranda's personals ad in the EAST VILLAGE WEEKLY wasn't placed out of loneliness, but exasperation from too much intrusive company, deliberate provocation to the Elders and their rules. But Kyle turns out to be the greatest of rarities, someone with whom she can be herself. Unfortunately, her gesture included openly announcing her intentions beforehand to the biggest gossip in the family...
Waggoner, Tim: Connie appears to have been looking for a "Fixer Upper", someone she could help reach his 'full potential.' But Brad still seems way out of her league: chain-smoking, therapy for chemical dependencies - in short, he can't believe his luck. And amazingly enough, he seems to be turning himself around under Connie's influence. What is her secret? (Good story, but jumps from the first few months of the relationship to a much later timeframe in the epilogue. Would work better in a longer format or if the later changes in the relationship were otherwise shown rather than summarized.)
West, Michelle: "Deja vu" The unnamed narrator sustains herself on human memories - those soaked with grief at the loss of a loved one, in particular. She herself didn't place the personals ad; an old, old friend attempting to nudge her into rejoining the world did that. They aren't vampires - they consider them wasteful. See if you can deduce how they interact with their human companions by story's end.