So, if you’ve read any of my reviews over at Goodreads, you might be aware that I love me some vampurrs. I have been fascinated with them ever since reading Dracula in high school, followed by Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles (there were only three when I first started reading them – yes I’m old).
In fact, The Lost Boys was the first rated-R movie I saw in the theater and I spent days (who am I kidding, it was years) afterward in a fangirl daze, going over it in my head. Kiefer Sutherland and his gang of evil vamps were just super-hot bad boys. I also loved Near Dark and Fright Night. Chris Sarandon as Jerry Dandridge was totally swoon-worthy. That scene where he and Amanda Bearse are dancing in the night club?
It blew my teenaged mind away. Just in case you need a reminder of the other films I mentioned, here is The Lost Boys:
Oh, and I can’t forget the amazing Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Drool Factor 5000 activated.
Well, a bunch of years passed, and I got away from the whole vampire fangirling thing (what happened during my 20s is a whole other story and one that might best be kept a secret). Then Twilight happened, and I was one of those people who used to make fun of it, sparkly vampires, etc. etc. One night I was bored and decided to watch the movie. I LOVED IT. Then, I read all the books and bought all the DVDs. What was it about these books that appealed to so many people?
I have no idea. But whatever Stephenie Meyer did, it worked. I recently tried to re-read them, and while I still really enjoyed the first book, the others had a bit too much angst for my evolved (middle-aged) tastes.
However, Twilight still goes on my list for favorite vampire books. The Cullens were the coolest vampire family ever, especially Alice and Jasper. Edward, okay so he was a bit of a stalker and control freak, but I still thought he was pretty great for a vampire lead. (I mean, come on, you expect this out of vampires. They are grabby “mine” types and territorial.)
Next up is Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris, and this is mainly because it’s Eric Northman’s book, and he is hands down my favorite vampire of all time (and yes, I admit this is heavily influenced by Alexander Skarsgard’s portrayal of Eric Northman on the TV series adaptation of the books, True Blood). Although the series fizzled out on both TV and in print, this character still packs a punch with sexy charisma and intrigue that flies off the pages.
Another vampire book that made a huge impression on me was Dark Lover by J.R. Ward. This was my first foray into “erotic” romance and I just discovered it back in 2011 or so. The book is over ten years old now and holds up well, in my view. Wrath and his brothers are the hottest warriors around. These guys are panty-melters.
A best-of vampire books list is not complete without an Anne Rice book. I’m going to put Queen of the Damned on my list because this book had a massive influence on me. Lestat was my first “book boyfriend” and this book expanded the world a thousand-fold and introduced several new vampires and their origin stories. I’m not quite sure that anyone has done this type of story-telling since. She nails sensual historical vampire fiction.
This brings me to a newly discovered favorite of mine: The Companion by Susan Squires. The series is also historical fiction, but is darker and more erotic. Instead of females getting kidnapped and abused, you see a lot of this directed toward males (which is something different). The vampires are definitely not sparkly and there is a good blend of plot and romance. The romance is not the main focus in other words. I have found the series overall to be uneven, but this is a stand-out and completely under-rated.
If you’re a vampire romance fan, no list would be complete without mentioning the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. Bones, Ian, and Vlad are incredible characters and deserve a place on this list. While I don’t think the series holds up quite as well as some others, and I didn’t care for Vlad’s spinoff (sorry!), these men are unforgettable!
For new favorite vampires, I quite enjoyed The Black Lily by Juliette Cross. I’ve read it twice now and have an ARC of the next book (The Red Lily) to read, which is due out in June 2017. This series has vampire tyranny with a backdrop of a “peasant” revolt and has a great blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and romance. There is plenty of plot and the vampires are delicious! This is how I picture the first two male leads:
The Marnie Baranuik Files by A.J. Aalto is a favorite urban fantasy series. It has the inimitable Harry in it, who I can’t help but picture as Tom Hardy. Every scene is a favorite with this well-dressed and witty powerhouse, and there are plenty of unforgettable quotes. (I really wish there wasn’t a love triangle, though, grrr.)
I’m going to put the Kate Daniels series on here by Ilona Andrews just because it is never wrong to put anything they have written on a “Best of” list. These vampires are SO not sexy, but it’s superior urban fantasy (and this is coming from someone who tragically feels like urban fantasy is mostly dead – yes I said it).
I’m also going to put one more Young Adult series on this list: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead. It’s all because of Adrian. I loved that vampire. I had some personal issues overall, but he still deserves a spot on my list.
I’ll add The Hollows by Kim Harrison because of KISTEN – can I get an amen? The other vampires I could take or leave, but there was amazing world-building in this series (loved those demons too, but that is another blog).
Honorable mentions: The early books in The Chicagoland Vampires (ETHAN SULLIVAN) and The Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian.
That’s it for now. You’ll be seeing more from me on vampires since every day, week, and month is vampire day, as far as I’m concerned.