Sometimes in life, the stars align, everything you love about reading falls into place and lands on your e-reader. That happened for me way back in 2016 with Runaway Vampire by Lynsay Sands. The twenty-third book in Sands’ Argeneau series combines my two favorite subgenres in romance, seasoned, mature characters and paranormal. Seriously, if Runaway Vampire had some Harry Styles references and was sold with cupcakes and champagne, it would be the perfect book for me! Let me tell you why.
It is not uncommon for paranormal books, especially vampire-centric stories, to have older characters, significantly older characters well past the agreed-upon “seasoned” status of 35. Many of these vampires we read about are hundreds, sometimes thousands of years old. It’s easy to overlook that because they almost always look like the perfect age, somewhere around an ideal 28-ish. Great skin, perky boobs, toned abs, perfectly fit and durable, glossy hair, and obviously, pearly white, and pointy teeth are the de rigueur. And oddly enough, we never have trouble with a barely twenty-something human hooking up with an immortal that’s 100+ years old, but that’s probably an article for another day! I’m pleased to report, Lynsay Sands blew all of those stereotypes out of the water when she gave us Runaway Vampire.
Mary Winslow is a sixty-two-year-old widow trying to get her life back in order after the death of her husband. Traveling to their favorite campsite, she encounters Dante Notto, the insanely handsome and ridiculously naked young man that clamored into her RV and insisted they were meant to be. Mary is pretty sure the injured, and did I mention the very naked young man, must’ve taken a nasty blow to his head – she’s sixty-two for Pete’s sake! Let me say that one more time for the people in the back, Mary Winslow, our heroine is 62 years old. When I read that, I literally leaped from my couch and cheered.
Mary agrees to help Dante hide out from the bad guys that had been holding him captive but draws the line at his implication that there could be some sort of romantic connection between the two of them. She’s not dead; of course, she notices how gorgeous and kind he is, and she feels an odd sort of attraction to him that she can’t explain away. Dante knows immediately they are fated to be together, but he also, in impressive hero form, respects her concerns. Sands deftly handles all of Mary’s insecurities and writes some of the sexiest, slow-burn consent I’ve read in a very long time. Mary has all of the signs of healthy aging a woman of sixty-two would experience. Wrinkles, achy joints, gray hair, all of it, but again, she’s not dead yet. The attraction she feels for Dante is palpable, he sparks a sexy feeling she thought was long gone, especially after the death of her husband. Her hesitations and insecurities are what any mortal woman would experience but amplified by what she thinks is an age difference. There’s an age difference, alright, just not the way she’s doing the math. Oddly enough again, would we even notice or mention a sixty-two-year-old man and a 28-ish-year-old woman? I digress again.
With the bad guys being super bad and hot on their trail, Mary finally listens to Dante’s explanation of their fated relationship and agrees to undergo the reverse change, you know the vampire change. If only! In a stroke of writerly genius, we get to experience Mary’s point of view as a mature minded woman with a new younger, perky woman’s body! Talk about a self-esteem win, AND she gets the hot vampire, too! Somebody send that woman some Harry Styles music and cupcakes to celebrate!
The beauty of Sands’ Argeneau series is, the books can each stand alone, for the most part, at least. If you’d like to jump in on book #23, you can do so, and you will not be disappointed!