Over My Dead Body, Michelle Bardsley

7 May

Over My Dead Body, by Michelle Bardsley

The fifth installment in Ms Bardsley’s Broken Heart, Oklahoma series, Over My Dead Body tells the story of single-mother-turned-vampire Simone Sweet and man of mystery cum mercenary Brady Hayes. I would call these novels paranormal romantic comedies with an increasing element of suspense running through as an overall plot arc.

While it is possible to read and enjoy these books as stand alones-for example, I have yet to read the first two (and my anal retentive tendencies make that a constant itch, by the way)-I would definitely recommend starting with the first novel, I’m the Vampire, That’s Why to follow the progression of the overall story arc (more on this at the end of the review).

Unlike many other back cover blurbs, the ones for this series manage to encapsulate the novels quite well. Here’s the one for Over My Dead Body:

Reality truly does bite.

With my ex-husband out of my life after attempting murder (on me!), and my little daughter, Glory, having not uttered a word since that awful night, Broken Heart, Oklahoma, seems like the perfect sanctuary for us. And I, Simone Sweet, am ready to start a new life. I just didn’t figure it’d be an eternal one.

But then local hunk Braddock Hayes turns my undead world upside down. He’s the only one who seems me as I really am, and let me tell you, he makes my fangs quiver. But if he finds out the truth about my past, it would just about kill me (if I weren’t already dead, that is). Luckily, no one knows better than me that things aren’t always as they appear.

The series is in the first person, with each book narrated from the point of view of its heroine. As I mentioned in my review of Wait ‘Till Your Vampire Gets Home, characters from previous novels manage to retain their uniqueness even though the book is told in another character’s also unique voice. I really like this. In this book we also have short passages from Brady’s diary. These are quite important not only to fill the reader in on his story, but also to provide information about the larger picture in the series.

I find myself torn as I write this review.

I like Ms Bardsley’s writing voice. A lot. For example, Simone’s internal dialogue is both realistic-in the sense that I can imagine her thinking/feeling these things-and funny. Plus her feelings for Brady and how their relationship develops are just wonderfully rendered. There are many moments during the first half of the novel where I stopped to re-read a phrase and smile.

The pacing is very well done. It starts in a very tense, pivotal moment, then goes back a few days to set the stage. Each chapter is more intense than the last, so that by mid point in the novel it’s almost impossible to put the book down-what happens now???

The characterization is also quite good, and I fell hard for several of the secondary characters introduced in this book. Simone’s Gran and her beau George. Tiny snotty pixie Flet and quiet Glory. Characters introduced in previous novels-Dr Merrick, Zerina, Ruadan, Damian-play small rôles with more about their pasts being revealed as events unfold.

The ending, even though it has an epilogue feeling to it, suits the story, and left me smiling, hopeful that things would be good for these characters that I like so much, and happy that there were so many positive resolutions to rather tricky situations.

All this is good, right?

My problem comes from the… well, increasing complexity in the series’ universe. Vampires and lycanthropes, the Consortium of parakind, the Ancients-all these were established in the earlier books. In the third book, pixies are introduced, and dragons in the fourth, along with the mystery that informs Brady’s background. Now, we also have Fates in the picture, and the world of the novels is getting quite crowded, frankly.

There are new rules or ways to bend the existing ones, along with more powerful beings making their appearance in successive novels in the series. There are some sequel baits dropped here and there (see Dr Merrick, Ruadan, Damian, etc above). There are questions left unanswered-characters who are presumed dead or gone, but who may or may not come back three or five books from now.

These things make me uneasy, and I couldn’t completely shut the niggling feeling of unease off as I read the novel. Obviously, while all these inform my grade, they may be utterly irrelevant to other readers, so please keep that in mind.

Over My Dead Body gets a 7.50 out of 10 from me.

Reviews for book 3, Because Your Vampire Said So, and book 4, Wait ‘Till Your Vampire Gets Home.

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