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Undead & Unwed - Book Review

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by WN548303 (subscribe)
I'm no longer involved with Weekend Notes. It was a wonderful experience, and I highly recommend it to everyone.
Published September 23rd 2014
Romance isn't dead it's undead
Undead and Unwed
Trashy Romance at its Best

Men, like women, have their superficial moments. As a guy, we randomly assign 'man points' to each other - usually in our own heads, sometimes out loud. You're wearing a pink shirt? Brave. Minus 10 man points. You waxed your chest? Really brave. Minus 100 man points. You moisturise? Minus 1,000 man points.

I don't know how women assign these random nonsensical judgements, but we guys can be ridiculously and amusingly arbitrary.

When you ride motorbikes, own a ute, your best mate is an American Staffy, and you have a lot of tattoos, other men assume certain things about you and assign you a boat load of man points. What I am about to admit is possibly going to lose me every single one of them.

Yes. This is serious stuff. More serious than liking Celine Dion (which I don't) or admitting you cried while watching the Titanic (which I did).

Here it comes...

My secret guilty pleasure is... wait for it...

I love the "Undead" series of trashy vampire romance novels by MaryJanice Davidson. Yes, that's MaryJanice as one word with two capitals.

There. It's out. It feels good to have shared that. Cool! I'm really starting to get in touch with my feminine side!

Damn. There goes another boat load of man points!

Three years ago a dear friend and fellow writer dropped the first of MaryJanice's 'Undead' series, 'Undead and Unwed' on my lap. Her words to me were "if she can do it, we can do it." We'd both been struggling to write our books for ages and I guess this trashy romance novel was meant to serve as inspiration for me.

I looked at it, threw it back at her, and told her 'Twilight' had forever killed vampires for me. I'm sorry. It has. I want Buffy the Vampire Slayer to stake the undead crap out of that Edward guy. I sincerely apologize to all of you 'Twilight' fans, but vampires don't sparkle. They rip your throat out and bathe in your blood.

My friend insisted, so doing what any man would I showed my absolute contempt for the subject matter and gave it a shot... on the toilet. I thought if it was as bad as I expected it to be I could always use it instead of the toilet paper.

Don't bag me out for reading on the crap-catcher until you try it. It's a time honoured male tradition, and if you don't let us do it in our own homes, we'll do it at work or any other place we can find that has a toilet, a newspaper, a magazine or a trashy romance novel nearby. It's in our DNA. We either read on the toilet or scribble dirty jokes on the toilet wall. You tell me which one you'd rather we do in your bathroom?

Within the first two chapters (they're pretty short) I was literally laughing out loud, and 'Undead and Unwed' was saved a less than desirable critique.

I need to point out that this book is not great literature in any way shape or form. The only thing it has in common with great literature is it uses words.

This book is trash, and it knows its trash. It's not trying to be anything else and that's kind of refreshing.

The author is obviously having fun, and as a result, if you can put your expectations aside, you have fun too.

The story flows nicely, there are no glaring grammatical or spelling errors and you do find yourself rooting for the unexpected hero when she faces off against her nemesis in the last few chapters.

The book does take a bit of work at times. There are multiple points throughout where you want to scream at our heroine Betsy (Elizabeth) Taylor (don't go there) because man can she complain, and when her love interest shows up you really want to punch him in the face (an urge that hasn't left me, and I've read 11 of these books) but you forget about all of that within a paragraph or two because Betsy says something that has you giggling like a school girl at a One Direction concert.

MaryJanice knows this strange world she has created inside and out and she understands the personalities she's chosen to populate it, and that helps you get lost in the madness.

The book starts with our reluctant heroine being hit by a garbage truck while trying to find her cat on a cold winters night.

That shouldn't be funny, but it really is, and anyone who has ever owned a cat is going to be smiling despite themselves.

From there, the book just gets funnier and funnier.

This is a tiny bit of a spoiler, but it's the only thing I'll spoil. In the first couple of chapters the author does a series of flashbacks which show us how Besty is infected by the 'vampire virus', and how an all you can eat buffet resplendent with enough garlic to kill a lumberjack saves Betsy from being ripped apart by a gang of rabid vampires.

MaryJanice sticks to all the vampire tropes that have captivated readers and viewers for decades (unlike a certain author who shall remain nameless) and gives a satisfactory explanation as to why Betsy is different.

There are a few things that are just too convenient and might annoy you a bit, like Betsy's mum accepting her daughter is now a vampire (and that vampires are real) without batting an eyelid, and the fact that Besty's best friend (who just happens to be richer than Bill Gates) conveniently saves her from homelessness and the mundane need to pay bills and hold down a job.

Plus everyone is just too beautiful, and too tall, and too in love with fashion, but it is obvious this series of books is a little bit about wish fulfillment for both the author and her readers.

Fair warning - there are sex scenes a plenty. It IS a trashy romance novel at heart. There is also a fair amount of naughty language, so if you're not a fan of sex and if you're afraid of words you might want to ignore this book completely. I have to admit, I've NEVER read a book with sex scenes in it. I love horror novels, science fiction, mysteries and books about the plight of the environment or humanity and they usually don't have a lot of sex in them so this was pretty new to me, and it was okay. The sex scenes weren't too graphic and they built on the story and enriched the characters. They had a place, and weren't just there to titillate. The only thing I did have a problem with was Betsy's love interest (Sinclair) proclaiming his love for her when they're in the middle of it all. It's ridiculous. Really stupid. It's the only thing that really bugs me about the book and its sequels.

Maybe this is a failing of my Y chromosome, but do women really want that?

"I don't want to shatter any illusions here, but when we're doing the horizontal rumba we are not carrying on with crap like "oh my own, my love, I love love love love you..."

I assure you, we are loving you with every fibre of our being and nothing else in the world matters but you. We are totally consumed by you. But we're not going to talk about it, and we're definitely not thinking about it. We're thinking about how amazing your body feels and how damn amazing we feel, and we're having the best time ever. If you were to stop us half way through and insist we take a survey on how we feel about you, we probably couldn't put anything into words and would just stare longingly at your boobies.

The best thing about this book is its humour. It really is funny. The character interactions are wonderful, in later books a few genuinely creepy things happen that give you a chill, and now and again there is a really good mystery woven in that keeps you turning the pages.

The series' unexpected quality is maintained for the first handful of books, but there are one or two plonkers around book nine and ten.

I call this book a trashy romance, but in many ways it actually defies any label. In places, the books have genuine pathos in them. There are some interesting as well as fun insights, and there are always new characters being introduced as MaryJanice builds on her mythology. One of my personal favourites is the Prince of Darkness. Satan makes multiple appearances in the series, and looks surprisingly like Lena Olin... and has a wicked shoe fetish that puts Betsy's to shame.

If you're looking for something light to while away a couple of hours one weekend, give this book and its sequels a try. If you're part of a face to face book club, suggest it to your friends - you can make a pretty awesome drinking game out of the number of times a shoe designer's name is mentioned!

An added bonus is that the books are an education for those of us who are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails.

For example, I never used to notice women's shoes. Now I do. And if I comment, I get massive brownie points. Plus, I now know that Manolo Blahnik is a guy that makes shoes and not weapons of mass destruction.

MaryJanice's 'Undead' novels are available on Kindle and on iBooks for $11.99, and for varying prices at most book stores.

Book 12 was released last year in August, with Book 13 due out soon.

Give them a try, or if you have a shoe loving girlfriend who likes to read, suggest she give them a try. If you're willing to suspend disbelief and have a dirty little literary secret, the 'Undead' series won't disappoint.

If you'd like to learn more about the author and her books, you can visit her at She's also on facebook, search for her as MaryJanice Davidson.

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