Sex, Lies, and Vampires by Katie MacAlister

Content Warning: sex described with more euphemism than descriptive diction, falling in love with the captor, sex in inappropriate places, and tons of lying (if that sort of thing bothers you like it does me).

Oh, Katie. Can I call you Katie? Probably not. Katie MacAlister’s 3rd book in the Dark Ones series is largely a rehash of what was contained in the 2nd book. Well, except the female protagonist has even less personality. Nell Harris is a medieval history professor in the United States. When a woman in Prague calls with the promise of a 14th century artifact, Nell hurries over. Except the woman, Melissande, tricked Nell. Somehow, Melissande knows that one time her in life Nell tried to charm a curse, so, naturally, Nell is the right person to help Melissande track down her nephew, who is missing. Right? Right.

lies and vampires
Do you not see one thing . . . and then see something way more, uh, intimate? Stand back, like you’re looking at a Monet.

Melissande is a “dark one,” which is Katie MacAlister’s version of a vampire. They don’t do sun, and they have to drink blood, but other than that, these dark ones are described very, very much like humans. They brush their teeth, for goodness sake. Where’s the fun in that? Some dark ones are made, others are born, but for some reason they all stop aging right around the time they hit smoking hotness.

Melissande and Nell go to the castle of Christian Dante, the lead male in book 2 and a medium-sized character in the 1st book. Nell has no idea who Christian is, but readers will get antsy knowing that we’re supposed to love Christian and who is this Melissande trickster!? In the castle, Nell is abducted by our male protagonist for book 3, Adrian, a dark one who kidnaps other dark ones and sends them to a demon god to be tortured and killed. She falls in love with him almost immediately . . . because she’s scared of the dark. That’s all the plot you really need to know, dear reader.

I’m a-scared!

Although we know Nell is a college professor, she has the personality of a 15-year-old high school girl. Her life in the United States is completely ignored, meaning her PhD smarts aren’t even useful to the dark ones. Odd, because they were largely born during the period that Nell studies. She likes to irritate people. Like, purposefully. She calls all dark ones “vamps,” a word that twanged a murder synapse in my brain each time. She — just like the leading lady in book 2! — tries to make up pet names for her dark one lover. And not good ones, friends! Terms like “lambikins.” Every time, Adrian rages that he is the powerful undead, feared because he betrays his own kind, which leads Nell to keep trying out new names. It was an aggravating shtick.

pet names

The way Nell shows her affection is repetitive, too, and I would argue babyish. How many times did I need to read that she was “…nuzzling the sweet spot behind his ear.” Friends, go test out your significant other. Does he/she have a “sweet spot” located behind the ear? Is it just hair gel residue and ear funk? I thought so.


She’s also constantly “kissing the tip of his nose.” Have you ever kissed someone’s nostrils? How about the side of the nose, where skin oil collects? No? So the description — tip — is redundant, but I also ask: are such chaste kisses really the vibe readers want in what’s supposed to be a sexy romance novel? This book does get super intimate. At one point, Adrian licks under Nell’s breast and she professes, “Oh, god, this must be illegal!” Errrr . . . in what country? I’m back to the image of the 15-year-old girl. Not a good one. The only time Nell sounds like an adult woman is when she and Adrian walk into a brothel for ghosts. One room has been enchanted to make ghosts feel sexy and want to strip off their clothes (ghosts have clothes, I learned), and Nell actually says, “I want you inside me.” I was impressed! It’s a short-lived scene, though.

Nell never grows up, though. And her inability to mature is compounded by the fact that the leading lady in Book 2 is almost exactly like her. This nondescript woman Katie MacAlister keeps conjuring is the Peter Pan of romance. After another dark one tries to kill her beloved Adrian, Nell calls the thwarted murderer a “poop.” There you have it. A poop. I’ll say no more.


  1. I felt your dismay immediately with those opening lines. Vampires brushing their teeth. It actually seems like a smart move and I wonder why I never thought of it. This line, “they all stop aging right around the time they hit smoking hotness” is spot on. Do unattractive vampires exist? Oh, the romance sounds abysmal. There’s so much here to feel weird about…nose kissing and ghosts with clothes. Is this the bad bad bad series you were talking about?


  2. “Some dark ones are made, others are born, but for some reason they all stop aging right around the time they hit smoking hotness.”
    -Isn’t that the rule for vampire novels? (My knowledge of vampire novels begins and ends with having seen clips of Twilight, which led me to believe that the main quality of vampires is that they sparkle). Your review made me laugh-adult women who act like children are a particular bugbear of mine with fiction, though I think it is a bit more common with films than novels (or maybe I’m just watching the wrong films).


    • I think in a lot of romance films the women behave like children. Hollywood seems to think the only way to “mature” these women is to have them sleep with everyone. In your typical vampire narrative, a human is bitten and turns into a vampire. In the Anne Rice world, vampires will choose which human to turn because the human is nearly suicidal or dead or owns land that the vampire can take over, but vampire blood cures all bodily ails and the new vampire looks like a figurine.


  3. XD XD XD You *must* be kidding me. Who insults people by calling them a poop?! Wowza, Melanie… This series sounds like it’s really picking up. O_o Will you keep reading? How many more books are there?

    Now, I don’t want to come across as judgemental. I’m currently reading some pop-YA-fiction and I’m loving every second. So, bad characterization (and writing?) aside, if you’re enjoying it, by all means continue! It just sounds like you’re… um… not.


  4. Dang 😀 first of all! Time flies, and I have missed some great content on your blog. Opened a bunch of tabs just now! It’s great to catch up.
    Two: why did you read this? 😀 I clearly missed the reviews of the first two parts, which might have contained the reason, so you might have to just spell it out for me. WHY??! 😀
    Also? I really enjoyed this review. Perfectly picked GIFs. Utter hilarity. This is great content here.


  5. Well…I don’t even know what to say here. This sounds horrendous, but at least it gives you content for humorous reviews? I don’t think most teenagers would even call someone a “poop.” Sigh.


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