Club Dead  - Charlaine Harris

Sookie and Bill's relationship has always been fraught with issues - she's a telepath and he's a vampire - but when Bill leaves out of town, things are about to get even stickier. Sookie learns that Bill has been working on something big in conjunction with the Queen of Louisiana but is missing. So Sookie does the only thing she can: she goes to Eric, Bill's sexy boss, to ask for his help in finding Bill.

I want to give out my utmost apologies in advance, because this is going to be a rather boring review. Not boring as in "This book is boring, proceed with caution", but boring as in "This book was a lot of fun, just like the others, so if you've read those reviews, well, you know what I'm going to say already". If I were into plagiarism, I'd probably just take my previous reviews of the earlier books, tweak a few things and post them here. But I'm not, so please excuse this probably dry, boring review.

Anyway, the Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse series is a guilty pleasure. It's not the most brilliant of books I've read, it's not the most unique or clever, but it is FUN and it is ENJOYABLE. And sometimes you don't want to read some groundbreaking, earth-shattering, mind-blowing work of art (or a bunch of broody people brooding around in their broodiness); sometimes, you want to read about quirky characters doing sometimes silly things and laugh your butt off. And that is what Sookie Stackhouse means to me.

This book is different from the earlier ones in that the inciting event isn't a murder but Bill's disappearance. Sookie must take matters into her own hands to find him, showing she's got guts to back up her character (NEVER a bad thing for a female character, who often tends to be at the whim of her possessive, domineering boyfriend). And what she ends up finding are some pretty shocking things that force some even tougher (though badly needed) decisions.

Besides the characters we've come to know and love (Sookie, Bill, Sam, Eric, Pam, Bubba, etc.), we get the brand-new character of Alcide, who may very well be my favorite character next to the charming Bubba. He's sexy, he's polite, he's everything I'd like in a romantic interest - although I don't know if he is going to be an official romantic interest for Sookie at this point (though I wouldn't mind!!).

The other good thing about this is book is that we get to see more of Eric. Eric in the earlier books was kinda enigmatic to me. He was broody and in the background. Here, we get to see the chemistry between him and Sookie - and it's pretty hot. He also seems to respect Sookie more than the territorial Bill - something that has troubled me a bit about Bill from the beginning.

But the biggest different (and probably the most shocking) is what happens to Bill. Apparently, he was seeing Lorena (another vampire from his past) and was going to break it off with Sookie. Not to mention, once Sookie gets Bill back, he basically drains her blood and rapes her (has sex with her when she is saying, very clearly, "NO!") - something I do NOT like seeing in my romantic heroes!! And this comes from someone who was OK with Bill in the beginning - I even kinda liked his Southern gentleman charm. But when he forced himself on Sookie, I was just like, "NO! You do NOT DO THAT. Even if you are 'out of sorts' and starved".

Now, I did find this book to be slower to get through, but I wonder if that is just me or that I am nearing what I call "series burnout" - what happens when I read too many books in the same series (regardless of whether I like the series or not). Since my work has been crazy, I'll err on saying that it was more of my fault for not getting through this and less of the book's fault.

I'm glad that I've found a vampire/paranormal romance/urban fantasy series that I enjoy. For awhile, I was afraid I was just not a vampire/werewolf girl. But really, it all comes down to finding something that floats your boat. No, Sookie Stackhouse won't win awards for Best Writing or Most Unique Take on Vampires or anything, but it's enjoyable and fun, and honestly, could I ask for anything more at the end of the day?