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Holiday Romance Review – The Bite Before Christmas

The Bite Before Christmas by Heidi Betts


Review by reacherfan1909  




A Bite Before Christmas is a vampire romance anthology of three novellas using interrelated characters.  It’s quick, easy, holiday themed fare – light as fluff and just amusing enough to enjoy – that provides a brief escape from the hectic season.  Each novella can easily be read in 2 hours or so.


All I Vant for Christmas: Angelina Ricci is a vampire matchmaker.  Classy and beautiful, she a friend of very human party planner Jillian Parker.  With the market downturns and the cutback in corporate spending for Christmas parties, Jillian finds her calendar frighteningly bare for the holidays.  Connor Drake is a old and very wealthy vampire with two younger sibling trapped in what feels likes endless adolescent rebellion.  All Connor wants is an old fashioned holiday.  He tried that on Thanksgiving, and his rebellious brother and sister managed to ruin it for him.  He’s determined to have his old-fashioned Christmas – even if it means hiring an event planner to do it for him.

Angelina Ricci has just what Connor needs – the very human Jillian.  Vampires might have come out of the closet, or the crypt, sort of, but Jillian has a healthy dose of self-preservation when it comes to working for them.  Angelina is too important a contact for an event planner to ignore, so reluctance aside, a very nervous Jillian goes to the Drake mansion to see what wealthy Connor Drake wants.

It turns out Connor is handsome, stressed, and surprisingly ordinary – aside from the whole old vampire thing. His Goth sister and rebellious younger brother might be hellbent on defying him, but Jillian is a lot more nervous about her own reaction – one of attraction.  With a no limit contract, a client that won’t take ‘No!’ for an answer – AND insists she live at his mansion till the holidays!  No other clients in sight, and more drawn to Connor than she’d care to admit, Jillian finds herself suddenly negotiating things like a ‘no biting’ clause in her contract. 

A fun, lighthearted, and breezy story with just enough character for a quick, happy Christmas read.


A Vampire in Her Stocking:  Vivian Harrison is secretary to the very handsome – and very human – newsman Sean Spicer.  She’s never told him about being a vamp, but he has news for her – he’s leaving, and not for a better job.  Permanently.  Thanks to an inoperable brain tumor, Sean’s life expectancy is short indeed.  Vivian is devastated, but Sean would never want to save himself by becoming one of the undead, so she has to let her love go.  Easier said than done.  Tears and ice cream therapy with old friend Angelina don’t really help. 

Despite Vivian’s insistence that Sean has NO desire switch from being a dying human to the living undead, she wakes  to find Seam on her sofa wearing a big bow and card from Angelina.  Now Viv has the very unwelcome job of convincing Sean he’ll never again get a natural tan and will need a good supply of blood.

Sean wakes up on his secretary’s sofa and gets told a wild tale about how Viv’s friend turned him into a vampire to save his life.  He’s even wearing a red bow.  All these years and he never knew the lovely Vivian was nuts.  At least he thinks she is, but he’s hard put to explain the craving for blood.  Disbelief turns to anger at being unwillingly made into a thing he thought a fantasy, then anger goes to denial.  It’s when the sun burns his hands that finally sends Sean into blaming it all on Vivian.

Of the three stories, this one was stuck the best  defined characters and plot.  But keep in mind, these are novellas, so you don’t get the fully developed story arc or complex characters that you get in full novels.  For the format, A Vampire in Her Stocking was the most complete of the three.


It’s a Wonderful Bite: Angelina and her vampire lover, a Boston cop, Ian, return from a party hosted by Jillian and Connor from All I Vant for Christmas.  Angelina, the one character that ties the three stories in the anthology is the star of this entry.  A matchmaker for vamps, but unsatisfied with her own status quo.  She loves Ian, but she’s having trouble getting him to propose marriage.  It might seem a bit old fashioned, but that’s what she wants.

Problem for me was, the beginning was so tedious I got fed up with it rather quickly.  By the time Angelina wakes up and finds she and Ian, are now not only human, they’re detective partners who have their own kind of ‘benefits’ program – despite being married with kids.  (OK, does anyone else have a problem with this being ‘romantic’, or is it just me?)  Naturally, they end in in a life or death situation and it’s up to the now fragile and all too human Angelina to save them from fangy predators.

This is one of those borrowed plots that takes a big chunk Scrooge’s Ghost of Christmas and splices wit with It’s a Wonderful Life.  Married lover was a huge turn off, especially in a Christmas anthology and it weakened the book a lot.  Yeah, yeah, ‘dream sequence’ or not adultery is a tough sell in a lightweight and supposedly amusing anthology.



Unlike most anthologies being sold these days, a single author anthology has the advantage of a more cohesive style and related plots, which improves things.  The downside is, there still seems to be one lemon in every anthology and single author books are rarely exempt from this flaw.  It’s like the publishers order, “One bright and breezy fluff, one weepy with HEA fluff, and one with a big dramatic element.” The ‘big dramatic element’ all too often is jarring against the fluff, just like fluff is jarring when reading noir style anthologies.  Frankly, a more upbeat, story played for laughs would have been a better choice for a Christmas romance anthology.  Christmas cheer and all that.  My grade for The Bite Before Christmas is C+.







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