Undead and Unwed: Cute and entertaining paranormal romance

Readers’ average rating:

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsMaryJanice Davidson Queen Betsy: 1. Undead and UnwedUndead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson

Betsy Taylor is having a rough week. First she gets fired, then she gets hit by a car, and then she wakes up in a coffin lined with plush pink satin (yuck!) wearing an unfashionable dress, cheap shoes, and the wrong color make-up. How embarrassing! After piecing together the clues and visiting a minister, Betsy realizes that she’s a very unusual vampire — she’s not affected by crosses, holy water, or sunlight. She does, however, need to drink blood.

Betsy is determined to make the most of her death by getting back to her normal life, but she soon discovers that the other vampires in town have expectations of her. Though she tries to stay clear of them, they will not let her rest in peace, and she ends up in the middle of a vampire clan war.

I thought that Undead and Unwed was totally not my kind of book. I don’t like sarcastic female protagonists and I don’t like vampires. I only picked up Undead and Unwed because it was cheap at Audible during one of their big sales and somebody needed to review it for this site. I was completely surprised, therefore, at how well it entertained me.

MaryJanice Davidson managed to make Betsy’s shallowness and over-concern about fashion amusing rather than annoying (“Being dead was no excuse to get sloppy”) and, though Betsy can be rather sarcastic, it’s mostly directed at the villains and it’s not the defining feature of her personality. The villainous vampire and his minions are completely over-the-top —the men in black tuxedoes, and the women in red lipstick and nail polish. Their leader sits on a gold-plated throne. This works so well here because the novel is aware of its campiness and Betsy is constantly commentating on their bad sense of drama and fashion. She has no respect for the vampire scene and its clichés and wants no part of their “little undead covens.” I found her to be genuinely funny.

Betsy has a couple of likeable friends who are eager to be her new sidekicks. There’s Jessica, the rich black heiress, and Mark, the gay doctor who is less disgusted with Betsy being a blood-sucking vampire than that she used to donate money to PETA. There are not many characters, but two are homosexual (one male and one female) and I can’t help but think that this is an easy way for the author to make some characters sexually off-limits. Maybe I’m wrong, and it doesn’t really matter anyway since Undead and Unwed isn’t asking us to take it seriously. Speaking of sex: it’s rather steamy.

I listened to Recorded Books’ audio version of Undead and Unwed, narrated by Nancy Wu. I didn’t like her at first because her reading started off choppy and I could hear her breathing after every sentence, but after the first chapter, she really did a great job. She doesn’t have the best male voices, but her performance for Betsy was brilliant, especially each time Betsy’s fangs started erupting.

Undead and Unwed is a cute and entertaining paranormal romance and I will pick up the next installment when I see it on sale at Audible.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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  1. Re; Undead and Unwed. Have read the entire series of Mary Janice Davidson – Queen Betsy undead series. The humorous author gets down and sexy with her vamp boyfriend while admiring her shoes. Great concept that had my daughter and I swapping books until we had laughed our way through them.

  2. Debbie, I was so surprised that I liked this book! I’m glad to know the whole series is good. I will pick them up as I see them on sale at Audible.

  3. Hi Kate, another funny one was ‘Naughty or Nice’ from her ‘The Wyndham Warewolf series. Now that one I also remembered and still smile when I think of it. She is a funny lady and an easy to read author. Cheers

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