As I write this it’s the 5th of January, the clock is ticking down on the weekend and I am wishing that the chest infection that decided to set in just after Christmas would just go away.
However, that’s not what I am here to write about. This is the first of 2020’s book reviews, and an accompaniment to my brand new vanity project, Raye’s Reading Room.
As with the last five years, I have again signed up to participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. If you don’t know what this is about then I am happy to share my little knowledge…At the very beginning of the year, Goodreads invites you to share how many books you would like to read in the coming 12 months. For some it’s a great way to just expand on their existing book count, and for others it’s a way to encourage more books.
I am definitely one of the latter, someone who wants to read more and find more new authors and move into different genres if I can. I love the challenge and I really enjoy pushing myself to do better than the year before.
In 2019 I signed up to read 25 books. I decided that between starting a new job and beginning the process of setting up a Romance-focused podcast (it’s called Romance isn’t Dead and is really good fun if you want to listen), 25 was enough for the year. Of course, I obviously felt that wasn’t enough as by the end of the year I had finished 42 books and as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve I was actually just starting what would be book 1 of 2020.
So, this year I have signed up to read 52 books, I won’t be including the 12 books I am reading for the Romance isn’t Dead podcast in that count…so in total I am looking at a total count of 64 books. I don’t think that this is an unrealistic number, to be honest…I have read more!
Let’s get on with book one. This one was an unintentional choice, I actually picked this book up off the shelf a few weeks ago, after recording the last episode of 2019 of R.i.D in which we discussed A Quick Bite, the first Argeneau book, Sally, my co-host, mentioned that she would like to read more about Lucien, the patriarch of the Argeneau family. I remembered that I had it on my bookshelf and thought “That would be a good way to spend some time”, so picked it up, put it on my coffee table and then allowed Christmas plans to interfere with my reading plans!
So, what is the book I am talking about? It’s the 6th book in the Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands, A Bite to Remember. It was originally published by Avon Books in the US back in February 2007, so it’s not a new book, but when you’re reading (or rereading) a series you have to go back to the beginning.
So, here is my honest review of Bite Me if You Can, the 6th book in the Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands…
I enjoyed it! No, I promise that’s not the whole review!
There’s something really appealing about the male and female protagonists in the book. Lucian initially seems arrogant, entitled and incredibly sure of himself. He knows what he wants, he knows what his responsibilities are and he finds the antics of the younger immortals in his circle a little confusing and amusing. He lost his first life-mate during the fall of Atlantis and believes that he is going to survive alone for eternity (or until someone beheads him or burns him alive!).
Leigh is independent, she’s sure of herself and determined that she doesn’t need anyone. She was in an abusive marriage with someone who told her she would be killed if she left. So, she leaves and spends a lot of time running. Until she is the unfortunate victim of a rogue immortal who is determined to build an army of bloodsuckers who depend on him for their very survival. Luckily for Leigh, she’s incredibly strong-minded and isn’t with Morgan (the rogue) for very long, and she has befriended two hunters who save her from doom.
One of the things that I love most about this book is the fact that none of the characters are one-dimensional. And, yes this includes the characters who are in the book for moments. Everyone has a bit of a back story, everyone is an individual and no one is treated as insignificant. They’re not all foreshadowing something, but they are in the book for a reason – even Julius the dog and the two cleaners (who also get names).
Lucian has layers of human clumsiness to his character. Once he acknowledges that the unsuspecting and relatively unwilling Leigh is actually his life-mate, the one woman meant to be for him (after thousands of years of being alone) he is endearing. He is still gruff and growly, but he has elements of humanity about him that are unexpected.
When he finally realises that he actually does want Leigh, and the reason why he is starting to experience things like cravings for coffee and food he takes things into his own hands. He doesn’t want advice from his younger relatives, he’s determined that he will find his own way (he is incredibly stubborn). So he goes to a bookstore. This scene had me giggling…even though it does show how insecure he is about his very rusty abilities when it comes to talking to women, especially ones he’s attracted to. The fact that he is a handsome man has no bearing on his ability to actually converse with Leigh now that he has admitted he is attracted to her and she is meant to be with him.
He is somewhat vulnerable, especially when he realises that Leigh may not want him to be her mate, that given her past experience with an abusive husband, she may want to go it alone, continue as the independent and single woman she was before she was turned by the psychotic and megalomaniacal Morgan for the deluded and possibly misguided Donny.
There are several things about the way that Sands created her immortals that I really enjoyed and felt were encouraging messages to send out into the world. So many books focus on how perfect their female leads are, they’re slender, fine boned, beautiful and can help contribute towards a very unhealthy self-image.
In Bite Me If You Can there is a scene where Lucian makes comments about how the nanos work in keeping each immortal at their peak physically. He uses his niece-in-law Rachel as an example of why perfect is different for everyone.
“Rachel was disappointed she didn’t suddenly turn stick thin, but she wasn’t meant to be. Now she’s secure in the knowledge that she’s a perfect Rachel.”Lucian Argeneau, Bite Me If You Can
I think that this statement points out that not all women are the same and that what is right for one is not necessarily right for another. Rachel – Etienne’s wife – didn’t lose all the weight she felt she needed to when she became what the Nanos believed to be the perfect shape for her, so stick-thin isn’t what she was meant to be, nor is it always ‘perfect’.
One thing that I really enjoy about this book, and the others in the Argeneau series, is the fact that it isn’t just about the man rescuing the woman, or the cliche of the helpless woman who needs a man. These life-mates claim each other, it isn’t just him claiming her, or her claiming him, they belong to each other, they’re equal partners.
As with previous books in the Argeneau series, the plot twist/action takes place incredibly close to the end of the book. However, this doesn’t bother me, I like the fact that the majority of the story is about the two life-mates, Lucien and Leigh getting to know each other. Their story is a mix of comedic and tragic. Comedic because Lucian is so unsure of himself and so lacking in confidence when it comes to the idea of wooing the one woman meant for him, and tragic because the reason he’s been alone for thousands of years is that he watched his wife and children die. That’s not to say, of course, that Leigh’s own life has been less tragic. Losing her parents young, being brought up by her grandfather, losing him when she was just starting out on her own, marrying a man she thought she loved only to discover he was an abusive and manipulative potential killer.
All of these things give both characters depth that they need in order for me, as the reader, to find some empathy for them. Lucian in other books, is grumpy, gruff and the controller, the one who is in charge, who the rest of his family turn to when they need a problem solved. In Bite Me if you Can, he becomes more human, or at least less of an untouchable.
Another really cute touch when it comes to my particular copy of the book – a US paperback from 2007, has tiny black and white sketches of Julius, Marguerite’s dog at the start of every chapter.
All in all, I would recommend this book to you if you love the more light-hearted paranormal. It’s not heavy, or serious but it is an enjoyable read and I liked it as much this time as I have the six or so other times I have read it in the past.