The Romance Reviews

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hold the Sparkles, Please

“You’ve seen too many Hammer films.” (Franz Ragoczy, as quoted in “Cabin 33” in The Saint-Germain Chronicles by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)

So, I wanted something a little different to read the other day, while at the same time being familiar. I started looking through my books and was dismayed to discover that I couldn’t find the six books by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro that I SWORE I had put away in boxes marked “Lynda’s Favorites: KEEP.” I’ve had these six books since before my son was born. I passed many an hour with severe morning sickness (more like all day long sickness) reading these books.

I tore the house apart looking for those six books. I was getting physically ill, wondering what I could have done with them. And I broke down when I couldn’t find them and went to Amazon to see if they were available in e-book format and if not, if I could find them for a relatively modest price through the “buy used” option. I was stunned to learn that there aren’t six books in this series now, there are 26 and the 27th is coming out in December of this year. And I thought when I had purchased Tempting Fate lo those many moons ago that was the end of the series. Apparently CQY couldn’t bear to let her most beloved character go.

I was delirious with happiness—until I realized I had twenty books to read to get caught up with the life and times of one Franz Ragoczy, le Comte de Saint-Germain. Other than Sustenance, which is being released in December, I was able to find the books either in e-book format or for pennies from used book sellers and most of those used books are former library books. Of the five I’ve received already, four of them still have their dust jackets intact. To a book-ophile…it’s heaven!

Since Sunday night, I have read four of the books in the Saint-Germain series. I LOVE these books. The historical detail makes me swoon. The plotting is incredible, and le Comte…oh, dear…

Anyone who knows me fairly well knows I loathe the Twilight series. I grew up in the glory days of Hammer Films and Christopher Lee as The Count. I don’t like my vampires sparkling (head desk). I like them suave and debonair. I didn’t like the fact that The Count held the brevity of a human in contempt, and that always bothered me about Dracula. So when I first read Hotel Transylvania way back in 1983, I fell in love with vampires, and one in particular.

Here was a vampire who treasured the brevity of the human life, went out of his way to protect those around him that he loved—even knowing that most of those humans would be gone in the proverbial blink of an eye. Here was a vampire who was not a monster, while the majority of the humanity around him was monstrous. (Yeah, even then, I was a geek and digging deeper into literary texts.) And, yes, even then, I got the eroticism and the sexual nature of the vampire, because after all, isn’t a bite a form of penetration? (All my Freudian friends are now skipping merrily along.)

If you want a vampire that doesn’t sparkle, doesn’t troll the local high-school (seriously, Edward—you’ve been dead for more than one hundred and fifty years and you’re still after high-schoolers? Not to mention, Eddie, you’re a terrible person to the oh-so-shallow Bella), doesn’t hold humanity in contempt (sorry, Vlad—but I’ve got to call ‘em as I see ‘em), and yet still maintains almost all of the archetypal characteristics of a vampire, start reading Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Saint-Germain series. This is a vampire who gets queasy when on, near, or forced to cross running water, prefers not to be in full sunlight, lived his breathing days in the Carpathian Mountains in what later became Transylvania, is so suave he makes James Bond look uncouth, and is human enough to realize his early days as a vampire give him pause and even cause him regret.

Start with Hotel Transylvania. Then, pick your next read in the series. They all stand alone. I just recommend Hotel Transylvania as a starting point because so many of the following novels incorporate Madeline into them as Saint-Germain’s confident.

Give me a non-sparkly vampire ANY DAY of the week. 

Oh, and I finally did find five of the original six books. Somehow, they'd been put into the books boxed up for a yard sale. They're now back on my book shelves.

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