Friday, March 21, 2008

Dead Perfect by Amanda Ashley

Shannah Davis is dying. She's left home so she won't have to torture her parents or friends with a long, slow, agonizing death. She's wandered aimlessly and come to a small town in Northern California to wait to die. But while she's there, a man strikes her interest. She only sees him after dark, and he's always dressed in all black. She wonders about him and decides to follow him around. To the Post Office where he picks up his mail and up, down and all around town. She never sees him eating. She never sees him during the day. Finally, she packs up her things and camps out across the street from his house, in the woods.

Very soon, she is convinced that the man is a vampire. So, she goes to his door and knocks, accusing him of being a vampire. But when she sees him in the afternoon sunlight, she is convinced she has made a terrible mistake. She apologizes to him, then faints. The man, Ronan, catches her and brings her into his house where she can recover.

Ronan, however, really is a vampire, and he's been wondering why this pale, thin woman with the beautiful blue eyes and ashy skin tone has been following him. When he takes a little of her blood, he can feel she is dying, and decides to help her out by giving her a little of his blood, so she can live a little longer without the symptoms that are killing her.

Shannah, when she wakes up, feels better, but notices that Ronan doesn't have any food in his kitchen, or even pots and pans. She is dubious when Ronan claims to have had pests and had to throw out all of his food, but he convinces her to stay a while, as he is having her clothes cleaned. More food is delivered for her, and while she is exploring the house, she discovers that Ronan is the writer, Eva Black. Recently, his editor and publisher, who he has only contacted via e-mail or snail mail, wants to put a picture of "her" on the back of "her" books, and to do a publicity tour. Since Ronan is a vampire, this is impossible for him, but he tells Shannah that he doesn't want his fans to be turned off by discovering that he is a man. He asks her if she will agree to pretend to be "Eva Black" for the publicity photos and press tour. Though Shannah doesn't think she can do it convincingly, she agrees.

Ronan takes her on a whirlwind shopping tour, picking out a number of outfits for her. He convinces her she will be fine, and whenever she becomes sick again, he gives her more of his blood, and imprints the information she needs to know into her mind. Soon, Ronan realizes he is falling in love with her, and he will never be able to let her go. But though she once thought him to be a vampire and followed him in hopes that he could save her life, Shannah has since given up that thought. Now that she seems to be getting better, can Ronan confess and tell her what he is without her becoming disgusted and rejecting him? If she does, how can he ever let her go?

This was a really enjoyable romance. Ronan saves Shannah and only after living with her for a week or so, realizes he can't live without her sparkle, passion and sense of fun. Shannah goes from believing Ronan is a vampire to thinking he is just a mysterious man, and actively rejects the idea that he is a vampire. Of course, that only digs the hole deeper for him later, when he wants to make her a vampire to save her, and she won't believe he is one.

Still, the speed at which he falls in love with her seems suspiciously short, but then, Ronan, as we learn, hadn't ever really been in love before, not even with the woman he was married to when he was alive. He's also been living the life of a hermit for many years, and when Shannah gets past his studied defenses, he's lost. Shannah, for her part, thought him handsome even before he saved her life (which he does throughout the book over and over and over again... but to be fair, she wouldn't have been in those situations if it wasn't for him in the first place).

Ronan comes across as very attractive. Even though he is a vampire, he doesn't kill people routinely to feed. Indeed, he can live on very little blood, and doesn't kill the people he feeds upon, though he has killed in the past. Part of the conflict of the early part of the book deals with how Ronan will tell Shanna what he is without driving her away from him. The middle and later parts have outside conflict in the form of two vampire hunters out to kill Ronan and save, or possibly kill Shannah, too. It's an enjoyable read, and well worth looking out for.

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