I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Vampire's Sunny Sweetheart by Kristen Painter
Genres: Magical Realism
Published by Author on June 13, 2022
Source: my own shelves
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Also by this author: House of the Rising Sun, City of Eternal Night, Garden of Dreams and Desires, Book Review: Miss Frost Solves a Cold Case, All Fired Up, "Prologue to The Vampire's Mail Order Bride", The Vampire's Mail Order Bride, The Werewolf Meets His Match, The Gargoyle Gets His Girl, The Professor Woos the Witch, The Vampire's Fake Fiancée, The Shifter Romances the Writer, "The Witch's Halloween Hero", The Dragon Finds Forever, The Vampire's Accidental Wife, The Reaper Rescues the Genie, The Detective Wins The Witch, The Vampire's Priceless Treasure, The Werewolf Dates the Deputy, "When Birdie Babysat Spider", Miss Frost Ices the Imp, Miss Frost Saves the Sandman, Miss Frost Cracks a Caper, "The Werewolf's Christmas Wish", The Vampire's Cursed Kiss, Her First Taste of Fire, Moody and the Beast
Fourteenth in the Nocturne Falls magical realism series and revolving around a special town that celebrates Halloween all year long. The couple focus is on Sunni Wells and Ren Robillard.
Cute. Sunni likes to smell like happiness, and she sure doesn’t have a problem spending money with all the lotions and shampoos as well as those cute outfits. So, it doesn’t ring particularly true when she starts to cry poor mouth. As for Ren’s aliases . . . What was the point? They’re never used.
Painter uses third person dual protagonist point-of-view from Sunni’s and Ren’s perspectives, which tips us off to how they’re thinking, feeling, and what they’re each experiencing.
While I do like Sunni, I have to wonder why she never even tried to explore those shadows she sees. They never seemed to do anything, just be there, so why she’s been so frightened is beyond me. Then there’s her initial “interview” with Alice where she’s holding back. Why? It’s why Sunni’s here.
I do like Elenora’s support for Ren, and it’s indicative of the family warmth and closeness that she and her grandsons favor helping him.
It was a nice switch, having Ren assess Sunni as a harmless woman who probably needs his help. Then he discovers differently. However, it was too easy. It’s another switch when we read of Aunt Alice’s assessment of Sunni. Bad news that leaves Sunni wondering how she could possibly fit into her witchy family.
It is kismet when this child rescuer discovers a preschool teacher who loves kids, lol. And very convenient. Painter is also setting us up for Elenora’s and Alice’s stories. I’m looking forward to those.
The main events are all pretty obvious, although it takes the characters awhile to figure it out, and yet it’s sweet, cozy, and an everyday life (taking into account vampires and supernatural events) of family and friends.
It was a tricky retrieval, and Ren realizes he needs to hide out until the heat cools down. He’s got a little extra “help” most vampires don’t have, but Wilhelm Schuss is a particularly nasty enemy.
Nocturne Falls seems to be his best choice as a place to lie low, and it’s been some time since he visited his Aunt Elenora.
As for Sunni, her powers are finally emerging but no one can make any sense of them, and a few weeks with Aunt Alice are necessary for her to learn control.
Sunday “Sunni” Wells is a preschool teacher at the exclusive Parkhurst Preschool in Comfort, Texas, haunted by a shadowy problem. She has two brothers, twins, Tim and John. Her dad died when she was young. Aunt Marie Jean is a green witch; her mother, Rachel, and grandmother are general practitioners. Great-aunt Alice Bishop is a powerful witch who lives with Elenora.
Lorenzo “Ren” Ellingham Robillard, Elenora’s vampire great-nephew, rescues paranormal children. Some of his aliases include Peter Morgan and Nickolas Hudson. Johanna, Elenora’s sister, is Ren’s many times removed grandmother. Clara is Ren’s half-sister and the inspiration for his career.
Nocturne Falls is . . .
. . . the town that celebrates Halloween 365 days a year. The tourists think it’s all a show: the vampires, the werewolves, the witches, the occasional gargoyle flying through the sky. But the supernaturals populating the town know better.
The town was founded by Elenora Ellingham, a former duchess and a vampire, as a safe haven for supernaturals. Wentworth is her butler. Frauke is her amazing cook. Her grandsons (Ren’s cousins) include Hugh, Sebastian, and Julian. Allard Desmarais is Elenora’s sire.
Hugh is married to Delaney, who owns the scrumptious Delaney’s Delectables, and they have a son, six-year-old George (The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride, 1). Sebastian is married to Tessa, a Valkyrie (Kettlingr is her sword; The Vampire’s Fake Fiancée, 5), and they’re adopting a two-year-old dhampir, Ellie. Greaves, a rook, is Sebastian’s valet and butler. Duncan is Tessa’s cat who is spoiled thoroughly. Evangeline had been Sebastian’s first wife. Julian, the playboy of the family, is happily married to a pregnant Desdemona, a former Las Vegas headliner (The Vampire’s Accidental Wife, 8). They plan to name him Lucas.
Stanhill, Hugh’s rook and former valet, and Corette, a witch (“The Witch’s Halloween Hero“, 4.1), are out of town.
Sheriff Hank Merrow (he’s married to Ivy whose son, Charlie, he’s adopted; their own Hannah Rose is two now; The Werewolf Meets His Match, 2), Bridget’s brother, and Aunt Birdie Caruthers (“When Birdie Babysat Spider“, 4.5), who works as a dispatcher/secretary in the sheriff’s department, are both wolf shifters. Titus Merrow, another brother, is the fire chief (The Werewolf Dates the Deputy, 12). Remy Lafitte is one of his vampire deputies. Judge Minton comes in handy.
Dexter “the Wrecking Machine” Guildman runs Guildman’s, a menswear shop. He certainly knows what he’s doing! Bridget Merrow (“The Werewolf’s Christmas Wish“, 4.6), a wolf shifter, owns Howler’s Bar and Grill where Jolie is a server. Misty Connors owns Misty’s Boo-tique which has some great clothes. Guillermo’s is a nice Italian restaurant where Luke is their server. I Scream is an ice cream shoppe. Illusions is a jewelry shop run by a fae (The Gargoyle Gets His Girl); she’s married to Nick Hardwin, one of their gargoyles. The Basement is to Nocturne Falls what Disney’s underground complex is for the park. Insomnia is a supernaturals-only nightclub. Dr Shawn Deegan, a werewolf, works at the hospital. Salvatore’s is a pizza place. Harmswood is a local private school where Tessa is the Dean of Library Studies. The Sunny Day Preschool is a new project.
Sunni’s students include Freddie Nelson, who barks; Charlotte Mae Johnson, who likes to point her finger; and, Tucker Pierson, who claims his dad turns into a dinosaur. Sunni lives in a small apartment over Mrs Needlemeyer‘s garage. Scotty was Sunni’s last date.
Velvet Vanders, a.k.a. Valentine, a vampire, owned a nightclub in Manhattan and dated Ren for awhile.
Madeline Schuss, alias Michelle Chastain, is divorced from Wilhelm Schuss, a powerful vampire who runs criminal enterprises in Europe. The six-year-old Lizbeth Schuss is her daughter and is, was, part of a shared custody agreement. Kazimir Dvorak is one of Wilhelm’s people.
The Cover and Title
The graphic cover is a rainbow of color with its wavy sunset sky of deep blue to royal blue to purple to violet to pink to fuchsia to orange to red to yellow forming the background. A silhouette profile of Sunni and Ren standing palm to palm is a metaphyiscal shadow of the two of them facing us, hand-in-hand. The blonde-haired Sunni is in her blue gingham dress and cowboy boots while Ren, on the right, is casual in a black T-shirt and khakis. It’s their walk in the garden, a lion statue on the left, evergreens on the right, and the trademark pumpkin above a brown sign with the series information in yellow between them. The title is at the top in white with a black shadow. An info blurb is at their ankles with the author’s name below that; both are in white with a black shadow.
The title is too true in two ways, for Sunni is Ren’s, The Vampire’s Sunny Sweetheart.