by Katie MacAlister, Jennifer Ashley, Minda Webber

October 2006
ISBN: 0-505-52659-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Lovespell
Mass Market Paperback

From the stylish, and somewhat whimsical cover, readers will know that they are in for a treat. Just One Sip takes a contemporary peek at modern-day vamps and the women who love them.

Author Jennifer Ashley kicks off the anthology with Viva Las Vampires, and what a fantastic beginning. Meredith Black hopes to gain an interview with the reclusive Stefan Erickson, a powerful businessman who has made a fortune from our fascination with vampires. His Transylvania Castle’s resort is a huge success, and the studly Vegas Vampire revue brings in droves of eager women every night. When she immediately receives a dinner invitation from Stefan, she hopes that he has changed his mind about the interview. Stefan, however, has something different in mind.

Known for her historical novels, Ms. Ashley displays a fine hand with this story of vamps in Sin City. Her world building is sound, and she explains her twist on vampire lore without fanfare. Her characters are memorable and I hope this means that she may dabble on the dark side again.

Author Katie MacAlister is up next, with her kooky tale of revenge in Bring Out Your Dead. Ysabelle Raleigh is a volunteer counselor for newly-risen zombies or revenants, as they prefer to be called. But the gig doesn’t pay the rent, so she takes a tutoring position to help defray her expenses. Accompanied by her spirit guide, Sally, Ysabelle finds herself trying to protect her student from his father’s enemy, and trying to protect herself from a demon who is trying to capture her soul. When a tall, dark and dreamy man comes to her rescue, Ysabelle has no idea how complicated things are going to be.

With her tongue firmly planted in her cheek, Ms. MacAlister spins this story with the funny side up. Where else would you find vegetarian zombies and precocious vampire offspring? I must admit, however, that I did not care for Sally, whose constant butchering of French was truly annoying. I found myself wishing she would just shut up. I am certain that it kept me from enjoying this crazy story as much as I should have. I also felt like I had stepped into the middle of a series or something where I did not know the rules. She threw a lot of terminology at the reader, without too much explanation.

Author Minda Webber takes a good poke at talk-show hosts with Lucy and the Crypt Casanova. As the host of the Twilight Zone, Lucy Campbell has seen just about everything. Unfortunately, her shows seem to disintegrate into chaos, and her boss is on the warpath. Lucy hopes that her plan to find the incubus who is preying on young women will redeem herself, but it also puts her in close contact with the one man who broke her heart – New Orleans detective Val DuPonte. When she caught the sexy vampire in the arms of a vampiress, she dropped him like a hot potato. She loved him, but she couldn’t trust him any more. Val is insulted and hurt that she would not allow him to explain the circumstances, but believes that she never really loved him if her trust was so weak. Now she is sticking her nose into police business, and he has to stop her before she is the next victim.

I found this story to be a bit wearing. Lucy and Val sniping at each other, and both of them displaying a real lack of maturity. Lucy is unfortunately a klutz and a little on the dingbat side, so it doesn’t come as any surprise when she finds herself in trouble. Frankly, I wondered why Val would even bother with her, but love is blind.

So with one big hit, and two so-so novellas, Just One Sip is an entertaining read with plenty of humor.

Reviewed in September 2006 by Paula.