Dark Thirst by Sara Reinke ****
A supernatural romance novel about a deaf vampire. A deaf vampire! How awesome is that?! This is a great antidote to that namby-pamby Twilight; if only this would get made into a movie instead. In this take on the old trope, the vampires, who call themselves the Brethren, live isolated in Kentucky farmland, in a series of family compounds that seem like a polygamous Mormon sect, only with lots of money and without religion. Brandon, who was left deaf and completely mute as the result of a brutal assault when he was four, grows up isolated and scorned in a community that only values strength. His father brings in a deaf tutor for a time, who teaches Brandon ASL, but the rest of the family don’t want him mingling with humans. Brandon runs away to New Orleans (why are all vampires stories set in New Orleans?) to try to find his old tutor, but instead finds the tutor’s sister, a cop named Lina, who offers to help him. This is a terrific and really unusual romance. First of all, Lina is a few years older than Brandon, she’s African-American, and more athletic and boyish than most romance heroines. She’s much tougher than Brandon, who was not only tortured and abused by his family, but is inexperienced in the real world. Second, the depiction of deafness is compelling and believable. It makes sense that Lina is fluent in ASL, because her brother is deaf. The vampires are all telepathic, but because most of the scenes are between Brandon and Lina, there are lots of descriptions of sign language, and the author describes real ASL signs. The supernatural element adds a nice twist—he’s scared to have sex with her because he might accidentally kill her—but when they do give in, the sex scenes are HOT. The only downside is that it’s the first in a series, and ends on something of a cliffhanger….
Dark Hunger by Sara Reinke **
This is the sequel to Dark Thirst, and as you might guess from the unimaginative title, it’s not as good. The main problem Devo Girl has with this book is that it follows the romance convention of having the sequel be about a different couple, and in this case, the new couple is far less interesting than the first one. Come on! So what if Brandon and Lina finally got together as a couple, they’re still on the run from the Brethren, the story’s not over yet! But no, this book focuses on two others who are on the run with them: Brandon’s twin sister Tessa, and Lina’s former police partner, Rene, who is also half-vampire. Rene is also a RAK amputee, wounded by a gunshot in the line of duty and forced to retire. There are a few good scenes of him in the shower, and the sex scenes are pretty good, but unlike the first book, this one falls into the old gender stereotypes. Rene is a smug asshole, and Tessa is a beautiful, delicate ballet dancer. Oh and of course, she is fleeing her abusive husband, blah blah blah. We want more Brandon!! But no, not only is he hardly in this book at all, there are some hints at the end that he may be magically cured. The book ends with a horrible twist and a cliffhanger, that just was really unpleasant. The publisher has not picked up the series, so don’t expect part three anytime soon. On her website, the author claims she has found another publisher, but the third book will again be about a new couple, this time Rene’s long-lost half brother, or some such nonsense. Very disappointing. Maybe it’s time for some deaf vampire fanfic.