Finn is a homicide detective, but he really wants to be a part of the Vampire Related Crimes Division. The VRC doesn’t take humans, but Finn is a stubborn guy and he is not letting that stop him. When he manages to get brought on board for a trial run, Finn is determined to prove his worth, even if that means dealing with his prickly vampire partner, Marcus. Marcus is broody and grumbly and doesn’t think Finn belongs at the VRC, nor is he a big fan of humans in general. But Finn is positive he can win Marcus over.
The team is called in to investigate a murder, and it leads to the discovery that there is a group trying to destroy the tentative peace between vampires and humans. They are trying to provoke vampires to attack, hoping that will throw the truce into chaos. The more Marcus and Finn dig, the more twisty the plot becomes and both men are putting their lives on the line to figure out who is behind it all.
As the men work together, Finn is determined to win Marcus over. At first, Marcus wants nothing to do with Finn, even as a partner. Once the men begin to establish a good working relationship, however, Marcus is still putting up walls despite their mutual attraction. He knows that humans can be fragile, and he is fearful of getting involved with Finn. But Finn’s good humor and persistence has him charming his way into Marcus’ heart despite himself. However, a man from Finn’s past who has been a grave threat is back hunting him and Finn is hoping working at the VRC will help him stop the ancient vampire who is after him. Marcus is determined to do all he can to help protect Finn, but with a vampire this strong, Finn’s life continues to be in danger.
How to Vex a Vampire is the first book in Alice Winters’ new Vampire Related Crimes series and I just adored it. This book has everything I love about a good Alice Winters’ book, including lots of laughs, fun banter, thrilling suspense, and great characters. This book is totally the “grumpy one has a soft spot for the sunshiney one” trope, something Winters does so well. Marcus is gruff and growly and determined to resist Finn’s charms, yet he finds himself unable to deny the man anything. It is fun to see the stoic Marcus slowly relax and have some fun. As an older vampire, he is so used to everyone treating him so formally and with so much respect that it is kind of a nice change for him to have Finn not take him too seriously. These guys have all the banter and humor and playful teasing that is one of Winters’ hallmarks. And yes, I will admit that if you have read some of her other series (particularly In Darkness), Marcus and Finn’s dynamic will feel somewhat familiar. But I didn’t care one bit because I was totally all there for it. This is so my type of story, I just adored these guys together and loved watching Finn slowly burrow his way into Marcus’ heart.
Winters does a really nice job here with her world building into this vampire world. There are some interesting elements and unique takes on vampires that make the story creative and engaging. The case the team is investigating is nicely twisty, and it’s complex without being overly complicated. The investigation takes things in a variety of directions and it comes together in some interesting ways. The end felt a little bit like it just dropped off, but overall, I found the suspense side of things really great. I particularly liked how we see how well Finn can hold his own as a member of the team. There is a lot of focus on how humans are weaker than vampires, and Marcus’ fear of the risks that places on Finn. On top of that, Finn is an amputee (one arm, one leg) and wears some fancy prosthetics. Not to mention he is a bit “height challenged.” So there is this perception from others that he is weak and needs protecting, and I loved the moments where we see how bad ass he really is.
Overlaying the mystery element is another thread relating to the vampire who is after Finn. It runs as an undercurrent throughout most of the book, and we know the guy is out there, but not what he wants. Slowly, we learn more about his past with Finn and the threat he poses. I do wish we got a bit more explanation about who he is, as well as more detail on his attack on Finn. But this storyline isn’t resolved here and will presumably carry over the series.
So this was a great start to a new Alice Winters series and I couldn’t be more excited. I know the second book is on the way and I can’t wait!