book cover image for how to vex a vampire.

Book Review: How to Vex a Vampire

Title: How to Vex a Vampire

Series name: VRC: Vampire Related Crimes Book 1

Author: Alice Winters

Genre: MM Paranormal Fantasy


Getting into the vampire-only detective unit was the easy part; what’s going to be more difficult is dealing with my new partner, an ancient vampire who keeps threatening to eat me. The unit has never had a human in it, and Marcus—or as I like to call him, Fangy McFangface—would really prefer to keep it that way. He’s grumpy, short-tempered, and broody, but I have a way with words and I know he’s starting to like me, even if he swears he’s not. But what he doesn’t know is that I didn’t join the unit because I was tired of being a homicide detective, I joined because there is someone after me. They’ve already taken enough from me and I’m afraid they’re going to take all of me if I don’t find someone to help. That’s all Marcus was supposed to be, but now, he’s so much more and I can’t imagine my life without him.

The moment the pesky human walked through that door, I knew I had to get rid of him. He’s charming and almost everyone else instantly loves him, but he doesn’t understand how risky it is being part of this unit as a human. But as I get to know the stubborn man, I learn that perhaps he’s not as naive as I once thought. And maybe he’s what I needed to realize there is more to life than just work and my dog. A group arises who is threatening to disrupt the alliance between the humans and the vampires, but Finn is the one who shows me how strong that alliance can be and reminds me why it’s worth protecting. When threats hit closer to home, I realize I would do anything for Finn because he’s brought so much joy to my life—and because he’s mine.

This 105k word book contains: A creative use for undergarments, unintentional splits, a wolfhound who just wants to be a part of things, a vertically challenged human who still manages to wrap every vampire he meets around his little finger, the best date ever, possessiveness, really awkward dancing, some workplace revenge, and just a bite or two. Or three.

While the plot of the first book is tied up and completed, there’s a minor cliffhanger that will be tied up in the second book.

“It’s funny how this little human has so many high-level vampires ready to tear the world apart for him. And there I am, right at the front of his mini army.”

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What I fell in love with:

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a vampire-human male-male paranormal romance with a police procedural plotline threaded through it. The main characters work in a fictitious police unit called “Vampire Related Crimes” (or VRC). The idea is that Finn joins the VRC as the first ever human to be a part of the all-vampire unit. He’s partnered up Marcus, an ancient vampire working as a lead detective in the unit.

It was cute and surprisingly sweet read. The characters, even the secondary ones, were absolutely wonderful. The detective story was decently engaging for most of the novel. I’ll admit that, based on the blurb, I was expecting Marcus to be more of a cynical hard-boiled detective and for the overall plot to be more like an old black and white film noir movie, but I wound up pleasantly surprised because it’s a lighter and more upbeat read
than that.

Despite that, there’s definitely some sunshine and grumpy happening here between Finn and Marcus, which is mostly fun to read. There’s a LOT of snark in the book. Most of this comes from Finn, who is essentially a loveable drama illusionist. I really enjoyed this for about the first half of the book, but it ended up getting to be a bit too much (for me) a little over halfway through the story.

The romance between Marcus and Finn was very slow-burn and sweet, as opposed to steamy and filled with angsty melodrama and conflict. I personally enjoy “easier” relationships in my romance, but I also know my tastes aren’t for everyone, which is why I’m mentioning it. The characters DO definitely get frisky with each other a few times, but it’s also not the whole point of the book. It happens at a point in the story where it feels very organic and natural for them to get it on; it reads as an extension of their growing feelings for each other.

The characters do end up repeating themselves quite a bit, especially in the middle of the book. I forgave this pretty easily because the story was so enjoyable otherwise, but it was my only other real beef with the writing.

There is a unique physical characteristic that Finn possesses that, in my opinion, Alice Winters handles very well. This aspect of Finn’s body plays heavily into who he is as a character, and I found it very authentic and believable. It went a long way towards helping me really connect with who Finn is and what he’s been through. I don’t want to give any spoilers here, which is why I’m being vague, but suffice to say that I’ve honestly never seen this included in any other romance and I wasn’t at all mad that it was there.

If anything, it drove home for me that our bodies don’t need to be stereotypically “perfect” (whatever that even means) for us to be beautiful and whole. Further, we can give and receive love exactly as we are.

Real talk, this is something I know that I’ve struggled with in the past and, honestly, I imagine a lot of us have (because we’re human beings with lots of messy and complicated emotions and stuff). So, in that respect, I have to give Alice SO MANY PROPS for including this in the novel in a thoughtful and empathetic manner. Admittedly, I can’t directly relate to Finn in a 100% analogous way, but I can absolutely relate to times where I’ve struggled with hang-ups about my own appearance, especially when I’ve been intimate with someone. Despite that this story involves vampires, this element of the story felt very poignant and true. Others may have a different take on this, but there’s mine.

Moving on, the vampire universe that Alice has created is wonderful. It’s almost reminiscent of the Sookie Stackhouse series, in that the existence of vampires is well known by the human world and there are tensions between the species as a direct result of that. There’s a lot of vampire mythology introduced here as well. We’re got vampires who are made, vampires who are born, half-vampires, and the long-term effects of exposure to vampire blood. There’s a fairly complicated and consistent social structure to vampire society as well. The picture painted here is honestly really intriguing and I would have liked more about how vampires became introduced to society in the first place. I’m assuming that’s what the other four books in the series are for, though.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this story. Alice is a wonderful writer, and it was a very sweet, easy read. I would definitely recommend this for others, and I plan on reading the rest of the series soon.

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