When I started reading Stealing Time by Elisa Paige, I wondered: is there any life left in the undead? After all, in today’s paranormal book world, vampires have become pretty clichéd. It seems like nearly every paranormal series out there has its own version of the dreamy, sexy, and probably angsty, male vampire. I get excited when I see a series without those dreamy, sexy vampires, simply because I know I’ll be reading something different than everything else out there.
That said, I wasn’t really looking for something original when I read Stealing Time. It was a cold winter night, and I wanted something relaxing and easy, some literary comfort food. If dreamy, sexy vampires work for you, and you don’t mind something that feels a bit derivative, Stealing Time won’t disappoint.
The blurb, courtesy of the Carina Press website:
It wasn’t that she wanted to live forever. She just didn’t want to die.
When artist James Wesley realizes Evie Reed is dying, he is so moved by the beautiful reporter’s determination to live that he makes her immortal—a vampire, like him. She’s the woman he’s been waiting over 150 years for. Though initially shocked by the change, Evie quickly embraces her second chance at life, and love.
Just as James and Evie begin to define eternity together, a zealot breaks an ancient treaty, threatening a peace between humans and vampires that has stood for a thousand years. And when he focuses his hatred on Evie, the immortal lovers find themselves swept up in a deadly supernatural war…
James is the prototypical vampire hero in the post-Stephenie Meyer age: soulful, artistic, self-denying (he doesn’t drink human blood), a little self-loathing at times. Yet these qualities never devolve into the maudlin extremes I’ve seen some authors take it. He knows what he wants, and he goes after it: when Evie is dying of her injuries, he doesn’t hesitate to turn her, and doesn’t self-flagellate about the consequences. He is also strong, extraordinarily sensual, and not reluctant to exhibit either one of those qualities. To me, that’s always a good thing in a romantic hero.
Evie is the more interesting of the two. We get to see her grief over her illness, and her determination to live. Though she mourns the life she left behind, she never lets herself become depressed about being a vampire. Although she’s powerless in the highly rigid hierarchy of the vampire world, she does her best to maintain her independence and autonomy, not to feel helpless.
The scenes between them are both steamy and romantic. Paige writes a hot sex scene, and I love the way she plays the character’s fears of submission and dominance off of their interactions.
Overall, though, I found myself more interested in the side characters, who become more prominent as the plot thickens. There’s Kate, Evie’s college roommate who finds herself inadvertently dragged into the vampire world. Gage, the surfer-boy turned newbie vampire who still has trouble controlling his bloodlust. Jack, the southern vampire who may or may not be playing both sides against the middle. Siska, the ancient vampire tracker, and Nic, the descendant of an Indian line he’s responsible for protecting. The side characters were my favorite part of the book. Interesting and quirky, with several more possible relationships lingering for future sequels. I am looking forward to see where Paige takes them.
My biggest problem with the book, though, what kept it from going from “pretty good” to “great,” was exactly what I said from the beginning: it just feels too derivative to me. Many of the vampire characteristics feel too similar to other books that I’ve already read. James refuses to drink human blood (Twilight); only vampire teeth can tear vampire skin (also Twilight); vampires are not harmed by going in the sun, but a physical characteristic will give them away as inhuman if they do (again, Twilight, though Paige’s vampires have telltale eyes instead of sparkliness); and their bloodlust is so uncontrollable that any contact with humans is dangerous (what do you think?). The strict vampire hierarchy feels like a combination of Jeaniene Frost and J.R. Ward’s worlds. And the psychic link that James and Evie share after James claims her has been done in so many different paranormal books that I’m not even going to begin rattling them off.
I enjoyed this book. It delivered exactly what I was hoping for at the time: an easy, fun-to-read romance about vampires. If that’s what you’re looking for, than this is a good book for you. But if you’re not like me, and you can’t devour vampire romances by the dozen, I can’t find any reason to recommend this book over all the other alternatives out there—especially when I can rattle off several off the top of my head that I simply liked better.
Note: I received this book as an ARC courtesy of NetGalley. Stealing Time will be available as an e-book from Carina Press on January 31.