Genre: Urban Fantasy
Let me repeat that. Yay! YAAAAAAY!
I’m a huge urban fantasy fan. It’s one of my favorite go-to genres whenever I want a good story to read; and yet, I often hesitate over certain types due to the overwhelming number of mediocre books pushed out to ride the success wave capped by the likes of The Dresden Files and Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. Not all urban fantasies are built alike, and all too many have the same bland flavoring.
Dark Dates is a refreshing step away from the imitators; it steps squarely into its own spot as a good story, with a funny, cheeky protagonist and humanized sidekicks.
Cassandra Bick is a Sensitive who runs a dating service for Others. Some people use their gifts for saving the world; Cassandra just wants to run a business and have a little fun in the process. And until a certain vampire walks into her life, she’s going pretty well.
And oh, what a delicious vampire Laclos is. I’m not normally keen on vampires in UF’s—they generally fall into pigeonholes that leave them either entirely defanged or so badass that a hero’s fight seems unbelievable. Sinclair manages a nice balance of feral and sensual, with the ability to laugh the sweet icing on the top.
Then there’s Cassandra’s lover, Cain. Did I mention he’s an angel? A hot, badass angel who isn’t exactly what you’d expect from heaven. There’s enough hanky panky going on between them to keep you grinning, and enough tension between Laclos and Cain over Cassandra to keep her quip quota filled.
Now, all of these things we’ve seen in other urban fantasies, but it’s Cassandra who pulls it all together and keeps the story fresh. She’s sassy without being bitchy, strong but not absurdly so, and at her heart, a bit of a geek (if you doubt me, wait ‘til you see all the nerdy TV pop culture references) and all around wonderfully realistic woman. She reminds me of the good, light-hearted Sookie Stackhouse before that series ruined itself by getting too serious (and messing up the world-building, but that’s another story), but with Cassandra’s own distinct voice.
I’ll grant you, pop culture reference humor might not be for everyone. But as someone who loves Buffy, Supernatural, Dr. Who, and a host of other sci-fi/fantasy series, I enjoyed how much it struck just the right chord. I actually jumped on Amazon to see if there was another book, and was sad to see there wasn’t another book, although there are two short stories out.
Anyone looking for a solid urban fantasy without most of the usual twists, and who are looking for a relatable and strong female lead should definitely check this out. I know this series is on my read list.