The Vampire Next Door
This third Ashlyn Chase book brings us two more unusual and quirky residents of the apartment building where the series began.
Sylvestro 'Sly' Flores, the vampire who lives in the basement (and the late father of Merry the first 'victim' of the love shack apartment on the first floor) rushes to the defense of a woman being attacked. When he bites her attacker though, his fang hits the heavy gold metal necklace...except it isn't gold, it's gold overlay on silver. Vampires are allergic to silver. It hurts like crazy and to make matters worse, it leaves Sly with a lisp. The only thing he can think to do is to ask Morgaine Marlowe, the witch upstairs, the one who's afraid of the dark and afraid of the outdoors.
When he sees her, however, he's surprised to see her previously black hair turned blonde and her goth dress softened with plum and purple colors. The makeover Morgaine received in the second book lets Sly see her as more than just the friendly witch he's known for several years. She's actually a pretty and charming woman. His daughter, Merry, notices his sudden interest in Morgaine and offers him the 'love shack' apartment.
But Sly is too proud to take charity. If he's going to use that apartment, he wants to pay for it. Unfortunately, his 'career' as vigilante vampire doesn't come with a salary so he's left trying to figure out how he can earn money. Morgaine's cousin, Gwyneth, suggests making moonshine in Sly's old vampire lair in the basement. Morgaine, wanting to find a 'cure' for Sly's vampirism remembers a vampire she knew several years earlier who sold a vampire wine that mimicked a cure.
Before they can check this out more, though, Sly's vampire-maker, Vorigan Malvant, finds Sly. Malvant, the evil vampire who forced Sly to accept being turned, wants Sly as his lover. Sly wants nothing to do with that but he's not strong enough to fight his maker so he, Morgaine and Gwyneth set about finding out where Malvant lives.
As the story continues, Morgaine and Sly fall in love. Even though there's the de rigour 'animal-monkey' sex, their love affair is more on the sweet and gentle side. As Morgaine works to help Sly, she fights her various fears, sometimes overcoming them, sometimes falling on her butt when she fails.
In this book, we have two new characters appear; Merman Jules Vernon and Dragon Lily Chou. Lily needs sex to keep from sneezing fire and Jules offers to help her out. We don't see a romance develop however. There's a bit more than a simple connection when Gwyneth discovers that Nathan, the shapeshifter, has a crush on her. Since this isn't their story, we don't see much of their developing love but they do make a cute couple.
While this is supposed to be another comedic story, the humor didn't hit me that strongly. Because the plot is so thin and the love affair between Sly and Morgaine doesn't have any real conflict in it, it appears the author is relying on a little slapstick action for humor. Unfortunately, for me, the slapstick doesn't equate to laugh-out-loud humor, but more a twitch-of-the-lips humor.
According to the Acknowledgements, the author took pains to make sure she had the Wicca details correct. I wish she'd done the same for the 'hillbilly' Southern dialect. I have roots in the South and Gwyneth's dialect drove me to distraction with the 'y'alls ' peppered in every other sentence. For the record, 'y'all' is used to refer to more than one person, not a singular person as Gwyneth often uses it. That said, her country-style aphorisms were kind of cute if a bit outlandish.
All in all, The Vampire Next Door is an amusing read. If you've read Strange Neighbors and The Werewolf Upstairs, you'll want to read The Vampire Next Door.